From Comcast SportsNetNEW YORK (AP) -- Notre Dame is a victory away from playing for the BCS title. Alabama and Georgia each need two, and could have to go through each other.A day after Oregon and Kansas State lost to give up control of the BCS race, the Fighting Irish (.9973) moved into first place in the standings for the first time."Now we don't have to answer questions about style points or politics," Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. "Now we have a chance to play for the national championship this week."Notre Dame (11-0), ranked No. 1 in both polls and by the computer ratings, needs only to beat slumping rival Southern California on Saturday in Los Angeles to earn its first trip to the BCS title game.Alabama (.9333) and Georgia (.8763) also have rivalry games Saturday. The Crimson Tide hosts Auburn and the Bulldogs play Georgia Tech at home.If the favorites win, the Southeastern Conference championship game will be a national semifinal of sorts, with the winner advancing to the BCS title game.If form does not hold, and there are more upsets such as the ones that took out Oregon and Kansas State on Saturday night, there are a handful of teams that could be in the mix.Florida (10-1) is in fourth heading into a huge game at 10th-place Florida State. The Seminoles (10-1) also will have an ACC title game to play.Oregon (10-1) dropped to fifth and Kansas State (10-1) was sixth.Notre Dame, which last won a national championship in 1988, has lost nine of the last 10 against USC, the lone victory coming in 2010, Kelly's first season as coach.But the Trojans have been a major disappointment this season, starting it No. 1 and dropping to 7-4 after losing Saturday to UCLA. They also will be without quarterback Matt Barkley for the matchup with the Fighting Irish. Max Wittek will make his first career start after Barkley was injured at the end of the UCLA game.If Notre Dame loses, it could leave a muddle of one-loss teams vying for a spot in the BCS title game, even opening up the possibility of a second consecutive all-SEC national championship game.
Having destroyed three highly regarded opponents in their toughest week of the season, the Warriors on Sunday face an altogether different kind of challenge.
This time, it’s simply waking up.
The Warriors will pursue their seventh consecutive win, facing the Orlando Magic at Amway Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 9 a.m Pacific., the earliest game of the season for the Warriors.
The last time the Warriors (37-6) played such an early game in the Eastern Time Zone was March 26, 1995, also in Orlando.
The Magic (18-27) will want to be on alert for Warriors star Stephen Curry, who torched Orlando for 51 points last Feb. 25, his last visit to Amway Center.
Warriors by 12.5
MATCHUP TO WATCH:
Kevin Durant vs. Aaron Gordon: It’s the most efficient high-producer on offense (Durant) vs. one of the top five athletes in the league (Gordon). Durant is taking apart all defenders, and Gordon isn’t known for his D. No, the South Bay native is most known for his ability to fly. Durant’s task will be to minimize lob attempts while keeping him off the offensive glass for easy put backs.
Warriors: F/C David West (L thumb fracture) is listed as out. G Shaun Livingston (rest) is listed as out.
Magic: G Evan Fournier (R foot soreness) is listed as questionable. G Jodie Meeks (R thumb sprain) and G C. J. Wilcox (L Achilles tendinitis) are listed as out.
Warriors: 9-1. Magic: 3-7.
The Warriors have swept the Magic in each of the past three seasons, compiling a six-game win streak during which they’ve won by an average of 10.8 points per game.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH:
EARLY FOCUS: After such astonishing success in a grueling week, with three emotional games, the Warriors may be susceptible to a letdown against inferior competition. Will they be able to summon the intensity from the start?
THE BIG MEN: Zaza Pachulia will have his hands full with Nikola Vucevic, the USC product who is one of the league’s more skilled scorers in the paint. Vucevic is not much of a defender, though, so Pachulia may find a few opportunities via the back cut or the pick-and-roll.
INSIDE D: If ever there were an offensive team begging to be defended by a zone, it is the Magic, who are 25th in field-goal percentage and, even worse, 28th in 3-point shooting percentage. The Warriors should be in good shape if they limit penetration.
MORAGA -- Saint Mary's guard Joe Rahon shook his head in disbelief and shrugged his shoulders while running back on defense after getting blocked by Pepperdine's Chris Reyes midway through the second half.
It was one of the few things that didn't go Rahon's way in the Gaels' second straight blowout win.
Rahon scored 17 of his season-high 22 points in the first half and No. 23 Saint Mary's beat Pepperdine 85-65 on Saturday night.
"Our team's all about the open guy takes the shot and tonight I was able to get in the lane and make a few layups to get a rhythm going," Rahon said after shooting 9 of 13 with three 3-pointers. "That's kind of what makes us good offensively. We're unselfish and we don't really care who gets all the credit."
Rahon had plenty of support while helping Gaels coach Randy Bennett to his 350th career win.
Calvin Hermanson added 19 points and Jock Landale had 15 points and 10 rebounds as the Gaels (17-2, 7-1 West Coast Conference) led by double figures nearly the entire second half.
It was also a nice bounceback for Saint Mary's, which lost to Pepperdine twice during the regular season in 2016 before knocking the Waves out of the postseason conference tournament.
"Our guys definitely knew that," Bennett said. "We respected them because they'd gotten us three times in the last three years. Not many teams have. They have."
It wasn't as close this time around despite another big night from Pepperdine's Lamond Murray Jr., who scored 29 points on 12-of-20 shooting. It's the fifth consecutive game in which Murray has had at least 23.
The Waves (5-15, 1-7) couldn't keep pace with the Gaels' big three of Rahon, Hermanson and Landale. The trio accounted for 66 percent of Saint Mary's points and teamed for 18 rebounds and 11 assists.
After Pepperdine pulled within 72-63 on Murray's basket with 4:48 remaining, Rahon made one of two free throws, Emmet Naar had a 3-pointer and Rahon scored on a driving layup to help the Gaels to the win before a packed house at McKeon Pavilion.
"That's where playing together all last year helps," Rahon said. "You've been in the situation so many times that you look around and no one's rattled, no one's losing their confidence. We just have a lot of composed guys on our team."
Rahon, whose previous season high was 14 points, made seven of his first nine shots to eclipse that mark before halftime. Hermanson added 15 points, including an emphatic dunk on a baseline drive while Landale scored 11 points to give Saint Mary's a 47-33 lead.
Bennett has never coached Murray, only against him, but the Gaels coach sounded like a proud father after watching the Waves' leading scorer repeatedly torch his team's defense. "He's a really good player now," Bennett said. "He's as good a scorer as there is in our league. I think he's the best scorer in the league. It's just fun to see guys improve like that. He's made a big jump."
Pepperdine: The Waves have lost five straight and 14 of 15. ... Nolan Taylor's 3-pointer in the first half was the first of the season for the 6-foot-7, 250-pound freshman forward. ... Two days after becoming the school's career assists leader, Major was held without one for the first 14 1/2 minutes against Saint Mary's.
Saint Mary's: The Gaels responded to last week's loss to No. 4 Gonzaga with a pair of blowout wins at home, exactly the way Bennett expected. They have one more home game before playing four straight on the road. ... The 85 points are the Gaels' second-most this season.
Saint Mary's is likely to move up a few spots after three of the eight teams in front of the Gaels lost at least once this week.
Pepperdine: Returns home to host Portland on Thursday night.
Saint Mary's: Closes out its three-game homestand against San Francisco on Jan. 26. The Gaels won the first matchup between the two teams earlier this season 63-52 at Memorial Gym.