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Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - If you think you're seeing a lot of Notre Dame now, wait until next year and the year after and the year after.

I'm not sure how much more Irish we can get - every game they play, home or away is shown nationally - since they have their own network for home games, but the TV folks will try and find a way.

Notre Dame is polarizing and polarizing brings eyes to television sets. They are loved or hated and no other college football team can say that.

You may love Alabama or Oregon, but unless you live in the southeast or in Oregon, few others hate them. Instead, the rest of us across the country are pretty much ambivalent.

The only equivalent, on a smaller scale, is probably Duke basketball. Nationwide, most people have an opinion on the Blue Devils, but they're about it. Two teams, out of hundreds playing college football and college basketball that all folks can get worked up about.

For the lovers of Notre Dame, what the Fighting Irish did on Saturday, beating Southern California with the help of a goal line stand for the ages, will never be forgotten.

More importantly, it won't be forgotten by the 17- and 18-year-old high school football studs out there watching.

Those are the ones that will keep Notre Dame front and center.

Those kids don't remember, or don't care, that the Fighting Irish haven't been relevant for 20 years.

What they do know right now is that Notre Dame is good, really good, and if you decide to go to school in South Bend the chances are you're going to be on a team that's right near the top of things and always on television.

For two decades, Southern Cal, Penn State and the Michigans of the world got the recruits that Notre Dame craved.

Yes, the Irish were in the running for plenty of top-level talent, but they also seemed to just miss.

That blue chipper or three that they needed to sign on the dotted line, put on the hat of somebody else in his high school gymnasium on signing day.

Close is nice in a lot of things. Getting close in recruiting isn't nice.

Getting close, as a coaching staff in recruiting, gets you fired. Every time.

That all changed when Notre Dame held off the Trojans. And because they got lucky against Pitt. And were able to keep Stanford out of the end zone (Cardinal fans can whine, but they weren't in the end zone at the end).

It all adds up to an undefeated record and a date against either the Crimson Tide or Georgia in early January in Miami.

The Irish could be playing anybody for the national championship and the networks and college football in general would have been ecstatic. ESPN, in particular, because they have the game, will truly be pumped.

And if the opponent were East Jerkwater State, it wouldn't have mattered. All that mattered is that Notre Dame is a part of it.

Love 'em, or hate 'em, the Irish deliver the audience and it will be an enormous one tuning in on Jan. 7.

But what's going to make the Irish even better in 2013 and especially in 2014 and 2015 is what happens between now and Jan. 7.

They have nearly six weeks to pump out their chest even more than usual to attract the best players from across the land. Notre Dame has always recruited nationally, but now they can do it with more bravado.

And, of course, the Irish would love to win the national title, but just getting to the game is enormous.

From unranked and an afterthought before the season (well, as much of an afterthought as Notre Dame can be) to No. 1 with a bullet? What a story.

And what an opportunity to keep it going.

Drew Markol has been a sportswriter and columnist for several Philadelphia-area newspapers for over 25 years.

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