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College Football Schedule 2012: Notre Dame can clinch BCS title berth with victory

The Irish look to maintain their No. 1 ranking, while Northwestern goes for their ninth win of the season in a matchup with Illinois.

Matt Cashore-US PRESSWIRE

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are now one win away from securing a spot in the BCS Championship game, but as Kansas State and Oregon will attest, that victory is no sure thing. Helping matters for the Irish that USC Trojans quarterback Matt Barkley will miss the game after injuring his shoulder in last week's loss to the UCLA Bruins.

Under center for Lane Kiffin's squad will be redshirt freshman Max Wittek, who has experience replacing Barkley -- he took over for him at Mater Dei High in Orange County when Barkley left for USC. When he came out of high school in 2010, Wittek was rated by Rivals as the third best pro-style quarterback recruit in the country behind current Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel and fellow Trojan Cody Kessler. He will take on the Irish defense in the first start of his career on Saturday night at 7 p.m. CT on ABC.

Meanwhile, the Northwestern Wildcats will be going for their eighth win of the season when they host the Illinois Fighting Illini in Evanston. With a win over the Illini (2-9. 0-7) the Wildcats will put themselves in good position for a New Year's Day bowl, and will give them their first nine-win season since 2008. The game will kick off at 11 a.m. CT on the Big Ten Network.