Teams helped, hurt in BCS race

After a month, Notre Dame is in title talks while FSU has a steep climb

Updated: October 1, 2012, 2:05 PM ET
By Brad Edwards | ESPN Insider
Manti TeoAP Photo/Joe RaymondCould Manti Te'o and the Irish end the season as the No. 1 team? It's in play.

In the first month of the college football season, there were only two major events in the BCS national championship race -- losses by USC and Oklahoma -- but plenty of subtle shifting also took place.

Here's a look at the teams whose pursuit of the crystal football trophy has been either most helped or most hurt by the first five weeks of play.

Most helped

These teams weren't generally thought of as national title contenders a month ago, but their play in big games has vaulted them into position to make a run.

1. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

The Irish weren't even ranked in the AP Top 25 to start the season (24th in the coaches' poll), but wins against the Big Ten trio of Purdue, Michigan State and Michigan have elevated them into the top 10. Although those victories may not look quite as impressive in the rearview mirror, Notre Dame is ranked third in the nation in scoring defense (9.0 ppg allowed) and has managed to convince voters that it might finally have a front seven capable of competing against college football's big boys.

• Analyzes college football and the CFB Playoff as part of ESPN's Stats & Information Group
• Analyst for both College GameDay on ESPN Radio and the ESPN College Football app