The Notre Dame-USC matchup on Saturday evening that saw the Fighting Irish prevail 22-13 to win their 12th game of the season handed ABC the best ratings they've had for a game this season, drawing a 10.3 overnight that has crushed any game broadcast on any network this season, besting CBS's Alabama-LSU matchup from three weeks ago, which drew a 7.0 rating, by nearly 50%.
Not only did Saturday's clash give ABC its best ratings of the season, it gave them their best Saturday primetime rating since its genesis in 2006. It's also the highest rated regular season game on ESPN's family of networks since a matchup between #1 Ohio State and #2 Michigan, both undefeated, in November of 2006. Perhaps ironically, it was during that 2006 season in which Notre Dame last played in a BCS bowl game, falling to LSU in the Sugar Bowl 41-14. Florida won the national title that year, the first of six straight national championships for the SEC that either Alabama or Georgia will look to increase to seven against Notre Dame in January.
But the ratings success of the Notre Dame-USC game wasn't the only good news for the day for ESPN. Ohio State and Michigan's battle on ABC in the early timeslot drew a 6.3 overnight, the fourth-best for any college game this season and a double digit jump over each of the last two seasons. Finally, the late afternoon game between Florida and Florida State drew a 5.6 overnight, the sixth highest rated game of the season, a 75% jump over last year's comparable matchup of Virginia Tech and Virginia.
While it's still a question of whether or not the Fighting Irish will be able to prevail over their SEC foes in the BCS championship game, Notre Dame is still an unquestioned success when it comes to television ratings. The national title game could destroy records with the way this season has gone so far.
[Sports Media Watch]