Indiana native Cutler pulling for Notre Dame

Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, a Santa Claus, Ind., native, said Monday he grew up a Notre Dame fan and is rooting for the Fighting Irish to win the national championship.

Notre Dame moved up to No. 1 in the BCS rankings after last week's games and will close out its regular season against USC on Saturday. The Irish likely will play in the national championship with a win.

"I grew up a huge Notre Dame fan," Cutler said on "The Jay Cutler Show" on ESPN 1000. "I wanted to go there. I wanted to play football there. Never got an opportunity.

"I think it's good for college football to have them back. I think there are a lot of people who dislike Notre Dame, but a lot of people dislike the Miami Heat and the (Los Angeles) Lakers. It just kind of comes with goods team that win and that have got tradition. ... I would love to see them in the national championship."

Cutler also believes Notre Dame would have a chance if it faced Alabama in the title game.

"It's one game," Cutler said. "It's not like hockey or basketball. It's one game. If you get hot that game, anyone can win. They're more than capable of winning the national championship. But they got to get through USC first. They can't overlook anybody."

Cutler was also sure to congratulate his own college team, Vanderbilt, which defeated Tennessee last week, improved to 7-4 and will be headed to another bowl game.

"It's hard to change a mentality of a program in two years, but somehow (Vanderbilt coach James Franklin's) been able to do it," Cutler said. "Hats off to them. I enjoy watching them play. They're fun to watch. It used to be watching Vandy we were always overmatched talent-wise, had to be lucky, had to catch a few turnovers, out-scheme some guys. Now you turn them on and week in, week out they're right there with the SEC. It's cool. I'm real happy for them."