When the first College Football Playoff Rankings were released on Tuesday night, Notre Dame and its fans were pleasantly surprised with the results. The one loss Fighting Irish came in ranked 5th – just one spot outside of the top 4 – and in primed position to make a push for a playoff berth if they continue to win out.
Notre Dame was projected to be anywhere from 7th to outside of the top 10 in many analysts rankings, but no one had them in Top 5 making the news shocking everywhere to everyone – even those inside the Gug most likely.
Before diving into how the Irish here’s how the rest of rankings shook out:
- Ohio State
- Notre Dame
- Michigan State
A quick look at those rankings gives us a clue as to why the Irish are ranked so highly – their lone loss was a two point loss, on the road, in a monsoon, with a rookie QB to the #1 team in the country. Throw in a win this weekend over one loss Temple, a win three weeks ago over a USC team that has since padded their own resume, and another win last month over one loss Navy and Notre Dame has built itself a nice resume so far despite a few of its opponents like Georgia Tech not living up to expectations.
A quick scan of the rankings and this weekend’s game hints there will be a lot of movement not just by the end of the season but by this time next week. #1 Clemson plays #17 Florida State, #2 Alabama plays LSU, and #8 TCU plays #14 Oklahoma State. With that in mind, it’s possible that depending on how things shake out, the Irish could be in the top 4 as soon as next week.
One thing to keep in mind, however, is that the committee considers a team’s resume to this point so the trio of undefeated Big 12 still loom large for the Irish. None of them had played a meaningful enough game to this point to really impress the committee, but with the toughest part of the conference schedules on the horizon that will change soon. For Notre Dame fans, we need to hope that the Big 12 just beats each other up and knocks each other off.
Outside of the teams facing tough opponents this weekend, Ohio State and Michigan State still play each other and then the winner could face currently undefeated #9 Iowa for the Big 10 Championship. The winner of LSU-Alabama will still likely face #10 Florida. We already know the Big 12 has to play each other. Then there’s #11 Stanford. Should Notre Dame and Stanford both continue to win prior to their Thanksgiving weekend showdown, that game could very well be a playoff eliminator/clincher for the Irish.
These rankings were absolutely as good as Notre Dame could have hoped for at this point. This weekend’s game against Pitt could potentially impress the committee since the Panthers come in with just two losses, but in order to do so the Irish would have to really take care of business – something Notre Dame has had trouble doing against Pitt over the last decade. After Pitt, though, Notre Dame won’t have a chance to score many style points before Stanford with Wake Forest and Boston College on the schedule in the coming weeks.
A lot can change between now and the final rankings in December, but for now Notre Dame is in very good shape.