As we continue the playoff watch articles for the rest of the season, we will now switch from using the AP Poll as the basis for rankings discussion to the CFB Playoff Poll.
This week, the College Football Playoff committee released their first rankings for 2015. Perhaps surprising to many Notre Dame fans, and certainly to the disdain of fans from other teams, the Irish debuted with a #5 ranking.
Review of last week:
AP #5 TCU blows out West Virginia 40-10
AP #8 Stanford escapes Washington State 30-28
After beating Temple on Saturday, Notre Dame remained alive for playoff consideration. The Irish also received some much-needed benefit of the doubt by national media and the playoff committee’s willingness to recognize Temple’s ascendance as a strong football team in 2015 and not considering their historic stature as a program. However, many Irish faithful were cautious coming out of last weekend due to ND’s inconsistent on defense as of late.
The Irish also survived Stanford’s effort to ruin both the Cardinal and Irish season, as Washington State held two second half leads of 12-points, and narrowly missed a game winning field goal as time expired. Should the Cardinal have lost, it would have diminished the strength of that final game of the season between the two teams on November 28.
The First Playoff Rankings
A #5 ranked Notre Dame (with LSU & Alabama still to play) by no means guarantees the Irish a playoff spot if they win out. The polls are very fluid and the committee has said they do a complete reset on a weekly basis. If the Irish struggle to win against a weaker opponent like Wake Forest or Boston College on the same weekend a team behind them has a quality win (e.g. Baylor over Oklahoma or Michigan State over Ohio State or TCU over Oklahoma), it is certainly possible the Irish will be jumped in the polls.
Besides winning out, Notre Dame will help its cause by winning impressively against weaker teams Wake Forest and Boston College. The Irish are also going to need some help from their 2015 opponents and will also hope for plenty of chaos in the five major conferences.
There are only three ranked matchups this weekend including the first game in this month’s Big 12 round robin tournament as Oklahoma State hosts TCU. It’s going to be a high scoring affair, and a Cowboys win can be the first step in seeing the Big 12 miss the playoffs for the second year in a row.
The schedule does provide some interesting matchups that could lead to plenty of movement in next week’s polls. Any combination of upsets by Kansas State, Indiana, Iowa State, Minnesota, or Nebraska would be this season’s “Shakeup Saturday.”
This week’s games
Thursday, November 5
- #6 Baylor @ Kansas State – One more week before the chaos starts for Baylor. Starting next week, Baylor plays Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and TCU in consecutive weeks. Hopefully they lose one, but ideally two out of the three. But just in case they’re looking ahead, maybe Coach Bill Snyder can help us out by sneaking up on the Bears Thursday night.
Saturday, November 7
- #16 Florida State @ #1 Clemson – By making Clemson #1 and Notre Dame #5, it’s safe to assume that had the Irish won in the monsoon, the Irish would be #1 today. In addition to other considerations, the Irish are being rewarded for the “good” loss. So I think it’s in ND’s best interest to see Clemson beat the Seminoles.
- #2 LSU @ #4 Alabama – Geaux Tigers.
- Minnesota @ #3 Ohio State – Cardale Jones back at quarterback for the Buckeyes. Maybe the offense can struggle again and Minnesota can execute their opportunities.
- #7 Michigan State @ Nebraska – Would like to see the Cornhuskers upset Sparty here. Nebraska has had a difficult time adjusting their personnel to Mike Riley’s first year system. The return of quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. will give the Nebraska offense a needed boost. Nebraska’s average loss this season is by only 3.8 points. And they’re playing at home. Go Big Red.
- #8 TCU @ #14 Oklahoma State – Let the chaos begin in the Big 12. Over the next month, TCU plays Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Baylor. Hopefully they lose one, but ideally two out of three.
- #9 Iowa @ Indiana – We need an Indiana win so we can stop talking about undefeated Iowa.
- Vanderbilt @ #10 Florida – Probably the last game & storyline of top 15 teams that we should be paying attention to on Saturday.
- #11 Stanford @ Colorado – Close one last week Stanford. Don’t mess around. Keep winning until November 28th.
- #12 Utah @ Washington – Would like to see a Huskies win, setting up USC to win the Pac-12 South with a win over UCLA.
- Navy @ #13 Memphis – Navy’s only loss this year is to the Irish. A Navy win against the #13 team would be HUGE for Notre Dame. It would be a quality win, and vault Navy into the top 25, giving Notre Dame another top 25 win. It would also knock out Memphis from playoff discussion as they have an impressive win over possible SEC Champion Ole Miss.
- Iowa State @ #15 Oklahoma – Starting next week, Oklahoma plays Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma State in consecutive weeks. Would like to see them win two out of three. If Iowa State can pull the upset here, then we can probably afford for Oklahoma to win all three.
Other Teams We’re Cheering For
Friday, November 6
- #22 Temple @ SMU
Friday, November 6
- Akron @ UMass
- Duke @ North Carolina
- NC State @ Boston College
- Virginia @ Miami
- Wisconsin @ Maryland
- Rutgers @ Michigan
- South Carolina @ Tennessee
- UCLA @ Oregon State
- Auburn @ Texas A&M
- Kansas @ Texas
- Arizona @ USC
Remaining Schedules for All Playoff Contenders
|CFP||Team||Week 10||Week 11||Week 12||Week 13||Week 14|
|1||Clemson||Florida State||@ Syracuse||Wake Forest||@ South Carolina||ACC Champ.|
|2||LSU||@ Alabama||Arkansas||@ Ole Miss||Texas A&M||SEC Champ.|
|3||Ohio State||Minnesota||@ Illinois||Michigan St.||@ Michigan||Big 10 Champ.|
|4||Alabama||LSU||@ Miss St.||Charleston S.||@ Auburn||SEC Champ.|
|5||Notre Dame||@ Pitt||Wake Forest||@ Boston College||@ Stanford||Off|
|6||Baylor||@ Kansas St.||Oklahoma||@ Oklahoma St.||@ TCU||Texas|
|7||Michigan St.||@ Nebraska||Maryland||@ Ohio State||Penn State||Big 10 Champ.|
|8||TCU||@ Oklahoma St.||Kansas||@ Oklahoma||Baylor||Off|
|9||Iowa||@ Indiana||Minnesota||Purdue||@ Nebraska||Big 10 Champ.|
|10||Florida||Vanderbilt||@ South Carolina||Florida Atlantic||Florida State||SEC Champ.|
|11||Stanford||@ Colorado||Oregon||Cal||Notre Dame||Pac 12 Champ.|
|12||Utah||@ Washington||@ Arizona||UCLA||Colorado||Pac 12 Champ.|
|13||Memphis||Navy||@ Houston||@ Temple||SMU||AAC Champ.|
|14||Oklahoma St.||TCU||@ Iowa State||Baylor||Oklahoma||Off|
|15||Oklahoma||Iowa State||@ Baylor||TCU||@ Oklahoma St.||Off|
|16||Florida State||@ Clemson||NC State||Chattanooga||@ Florida||ACC Champ.|