Even though Notre Dame turned in a fairly underwhelming performance in Indianapolis on Saturday, the Irish found themselves back in the top 10 for the first time since 2012 on Sunday thanks to some upsets to top 10 teams on Saturday.
Notre Dame entered the weekend ranked 11th in both both polls but moved up to 9th in both the AP and Amway Coaches Poll following their 30-14 victory over Purdue at Lucas Oil Stadium thanks to upset losses by #9 Georgia and #10 USC. Georgia lost a nail-biter to SEC rival #24 South Carolina. USC on the other hand was upset on the road by unranked Boston College.
With a bye week on tap this weekend the only hope for any further movement in the polls before the Irish take the field again would be in the form of an upset or one of the eight teams ranked ahead of them losing next weekend. Two teams currently ahead of the Irish do played ranked opponents next weekend though. #1 Florida State hosts #22 Clemson while #5 Auburn travels to #20 Kansas State on Thursday night.
Alabama, currently ranked 3rd, will host unranked Florida while #4 Oklahoma travels to Morgantown to take on unranked West Virginia in what should be a hostile environment.
Five Notre Dame opponents were ranked in both polls when the season began, but that number is down to four in the AP Poll. North Carolina dropped out of the AP Poll last week but snuck back into the Coaches Poll this week. Florida State remains ranked 1st overall in both polls. Stanford, which lost last week to USC, is somehow ranked ahead of USC following the Trojans loss to Boston College. Stanford comes in at 15ht/16th this week while USC fell to 17th/21st (AP/Coaches). Apparently USC losing to unranked BC was worse than actually beating Stanford head to head.
But hey, the polls always make a whole lot of sense this early in the season right?
The last Notre Dame opponent currently ranked is Arizona State which comes in at 15th and 13th respectively.
For Notre Dame, the last time the Irish were in the top 10 was the end of the 2012 season when they lost in the BCS Title game to Alabama. Notre Dame never cracked the top 10 last year after early season losses to Michigan and Oklahoma had the Irish at 2 losses before the calendar turned to October.
That won’t be the case this year as the 3-0 Irish have just one more September game against a Syracuse team that shouldn’t be able to hang with them for 60 minutes in two weeks. That should set up a pretty nice matchup the first weekend of October when Stanford comes to town for the first time since that epic goal line stand in 2012.
Of course all of these rankings are somewhat a moot point this year since the real rankings won’t be released by the playoff committee until late October. By that time the Irish will have completed their stretch of Stanford, North Carolina, and Florida State so we’ll have a pretty good idea of exactly where the Irish stand at that time.
In the meantime, it’s great to see Notre Dame back in the top 10 – especially following another tumultuous off-season. Given the loss of the academic five and all of the injuries the Irish have sustained, moving into the top 10 already shouldn’t be dismissed all together even if there is still a long way to go.