Notre Dame Ranked 5th in First 2015 Playoff Rankings

Notre Dame - Ranked #5 in Playoff Rankings
Photo: Brian Spurlock // USA TODAY Sports

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:

  1. Clemson
  2. LSU
  3. Ohio State
  4. Alabama
  5. Notre Dame
  6. Baylor
  7. Michigan State
  8. TCU
  9. Iowa
  10. Florida
  11. Stanford

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.

You may also like


  1. Well, the payoffs to playoffs is alive and well. ND season means they play a bunch of nobodys and jump ahead of undefeated teams with tougher schedules?
    Figures. If you lack getting there just pay someone off.

  2. Final rankings are the only thing that matters. Would love to see Irish and Stanford going into game both with just one loss. Wow.

  3. I though Shazzamrock’s perspective was VERY interesting. His breakdown of ND’s record since last years bowl victory shed some new light on my thinking. GREAT POST

  4. I agree Shaz. It’s a very imperfect system, but the one in which our beloved team must operate. I have nothing whatsoever against Baylor, but indeed, they have no leg to stand on. I think soon, since they must face TCU, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State etc., they’ll have at least on “L” to look at.

  5. True on Bama. Tough playing team. Still want them GONE. Along with any Other SEC team. ND needs that to play out. Bama maybe one demesional and their D can give up points.. Hope this will light a fire, blood in the water for ND team. We’ve seen never say die. Can we see this is ours and we’re taking it. Guess will find out. Also screw TCU/Baylor. Arena street ball. Two hand touch. Jesus how many points do they give up ?

  6. All to be concerned about is Pitt. That is all we can do now. Temple is very good and Pitt will
    be as fired up.

  7. Coming in at #5 shocked me a little to be honest but it shows what they are looking for when selecting the 4 teams for the playoffs. Baylor fans are going nuts but I don’t think they have a leg to stand on looking at their schedule. ND haters don’t realize how good of a football team Temple really is. I think they run the table and finish the season in the top 15.

    I also did not have a issue with Bama in front of us.

  8. JDH,

    I you are dead on right about people getting too caught up in team names and past reputations.

    But today’s College football is a billion dollar enterprise.

    And the People that fuel that enterprise want to see the Ohio State’s, Alabama’s, Notre Dame’s Michigan’s & USC’s of the college football world.

    The Boise State’s, TCU’s, Baylor’s & Utah’s of college football, as good as they’ve been, just don’t generate the “Ratings” like the big name schools.

    And Ratings = Dollars!

    Heck, just a couple years back I felt Stanford had the best team in the nation and their play, schedule, and record were there to back it up.
    But for all their effort and accomplishments they got a nice little new year’s day bowl.

    No way in hell the powers that be were going to put them in the championship game and lose out on millions because Stanford just doesn’t have the brand and the flash.

    I don’t see that changing until the number of teams in the playoff is expanded beyond 4 teams.

    Thank You,

  9. The committee has definitely put a huge emphasis on SOS. Baylor burned itself last year, essentially by thumbing its nose at the committee and scheduling very week out of conference teams. The Big 10 and Pac 12, on the other hand, heard the message loud and clear and are working to ramp up their out of conference schedules (which will actually help make it easier for ND to schedule teams).

    Name recognition will get you the benefit of the doubt in a 50/50 situation though. I guess time will tell if that changes.

  10. S.O.S matters more than 0 losses. For example, Baylor’s S.O.S ranks at 107th in the nation. Temple has a highly ranked defense for a reason and they proved it on Saturday night. People get WAY to caught up on the names of teams, and extrapolate what they want to based upon “reputation”, rather than what they are NOW. And there are pros and cons to that. I thought ND would be ranked 7th in the CFB playoff. Shows that the committee thinks highly of winning on the road, in a hostile environment, against so-called “weak” teams like Temple.

  11. You have to wonder how much a teams’ “Reputation” plays into it.

    Defending Champion Ohio State has played nowhere near the same level that they did last year, yet there’s little dispute that they’re a top 4 team.

    Alabama’s home loss to Ole Miss by 6 would normally be enough to keep a team out of the top 4, but it’s Alabama from the SEC.

    Going back to last year’s bowl win, ND is 8-1 in their last 9 games with that bowl win coming over currently ranked #2 LSU, and the only loss a 2PT loss on the road to # 1 Clemson.

    ND has also faced Alabama in the 2012 National Championship game, and the Fighting Irish under Brian Kelly have owned #7 Michigan State.

    Brian Kelly has quietly (if that’s even possible at ND) began to rebuild ND’S reputation back up.

    Hopefully the current ranking gives hope and will inspire the team to a breakthrough season furthering their reputation and success.

  12. USAF Irish,

    I agree, an apparently so does the committee, that the Temple win was a good win. I think some fans are thinking of Temple as the Temple of 10 years ago, that was lucky to win a single game in a season. This Temple team is far from that team. They are a solid football program that has a good defense that is not easy to score against. There were mistakes made but this is not a bad Temple team.

    ND would do well, though, to dispatch the next 3 teams early on, then win at Stanford. If they do that, they have a very good shot at the playoff. With these rankings (even considering each week is a blank slate essentially), ND controls its own destiny going forward. They just need to take care of their business and they shouldn’t have to worry as much about what other teams do.

  13. B.C. Has the #1 team defense in country now Wake is 31, Stanford 39. Pitt 26. So these teams may offer some SOS. ND was 46. B.C. Wake &ND gained. Pitt & Stanford fell.

  14. I think we are 5th because our one loss came to Clemson who clearly the committee thinks very highly of. I also think that our win against USC is being considered a higher quality win than most think. Other than that, I can’t really think of a way we are 5th. Lets be honest…Temple is Temple and Navy is Navy. I don’t care what their records are. In any given year, ND will always be favored to beat these teams. But I really don’t think we have been that impressive in our other games so I was very surprised to see us here.

    In previous posts, I have been talking about how we are pretty much screwed to make the playoffs but this gives me new hope. There is a lot of ball left to be played still so lots can happen but I really feel we need Clemson to keep winning to make it. Obviously we need to just take care of business over these next 4 games and I would think we have a pretty good shot.

  15. The ranking really surprised me given all the grousing on message boards after the Temple win. I think many of us can’t see the forest for the trees while dissecting ND games. This team is really good and has beaten some quality competition.

  16. Higher placement than what I would have expected but let’s not wet our whistles yet. It’s early and the focus needs to be on Pitt and not looking elsewhere down the road. There will be the inevitable changes as big games are coming up that will affect the CFP rankings. A win against Pitt, the more dominant even better, is a must. Style of win is still considered part of the equation besides metrics. Let’s see a complete game be played against Pitt.

    Go Notre Dame!

  17. Certainly better than I thought we would fair. But the committee has stressed the importance of strength of schedule. Some schools, like Baylor have not gotten the message (and as a result they were excluded from last years playoffs because of their abysmal out of conference schedule).

    I’m sure the haters will scream bias, like they always do, while ignoring our strength of schedule. They’ll continue to say “But ND plays Navy” ignorantly without realizing Navy is actually a good team this year.

    Ignorant too, because unlike BCS rankings, the committee showed last year and insists every week is basically a blank slate. Number 5 this week has virtually no effect on where ND will fall next week. But what we can take from this regardless is that if ND wins out and takes care of its business, they are in a prime position to make the playoffs. Other teams in the top 10 are likely to cannibalize each other to some extent. But the key is ND must take care of its business. A convincing win over Pitt is the first step.

  18. Didn’t see that coming. Being at 5 this early is cool but not likely to last with Pitt, BC and WF ahead. This is where that tricky term “style points” comes into play. ND needs to look brutish against Pitt, BC and WF. Can’t let them hang around as this team so often does. We need Oklahoma to beat TCU and Baylor and they are talented enough to do it. A 2 loss Oklahoma won’t sniff the playoff. We need Ole Miss to get healthy and win out. What about Florida though? Ouch! I think their resume is better than Bama’s at this point. Florida likely took a hit because Grier is out. Lots of football left. Hopefully ND can hang around the playoff fringe and make a run at it. Go Irish!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button