Coming into the BCS National Championship Game, Notre Dame was ranked No. 1 in the nation and had a chance for their first national title in years. The Fighting Irish were dismantled by the Crimson Tide to the tune of 42-14, but end their season in the top five of both major polls.
Notre Dame dropped to No. 4 in the AP and No. 3 in the USA Today Coaches Poll, which did not rank the 12-0 Ohio State team that finished No. 3 in the AP Top 25. Alabama finished as the unanimous No. 1 team in both polls, while Oregon (12-1) finished at No. 2 in both polls. Even with the disappointing end, 2012 marked Notre Dame's best season in nearly 20 years.
The Irish were not the only area team to finish in the top 25. The Northwestern Wildcats finished at No. 17 in the AP Top 25 and the No. 16 in the USA Today Coaches Poll. Northwestern won their first bowl game since 1949 with a 34-20 victory over Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl and finished at 10-3. Northern Illinois came in at No. 22 in the AP Top 25 and No. 24 in the USA Today Coaches Poll. The Huskies finished their season at 12-2 after losing to Florida State 31-10 in the Orange Bowl.