Notre Dame has not been overly impressive the last two weeks and the sloppy play has finally caught up to the Irish in the rankings even if it hasn’t on the scoreboard. Coming off their unimpressive 19-16 win over Boston College, Notre Dame fell all the way to #6 in the latest College Football Playoff Rankings and now find themselves in need of major help heading into their season finale against Stanford.
Notre Dame was ranked 4th in the last two College Football Playoff Rankings while Oklahoma checked in at #7, but on the heels of a 5 turnover performance against Boston College, the Irish have now fallen behind the Sooners enough that it might be impossible for them to jump them without a Sooners loss.
Oklahoma’s early season embarrassing loss to Texas has been erased from the memory of the committee apparently as the Sooners have played much better football of late including wins over Baylor and TCU teams both playing with backup quarterbacks. While the merits of Oklahoma’s resume can be debated, and undoubtedly will be on Notre Dame message boards, Notre Dame really does only have itself to blame for its tumble.
Had Notre Dame come out and taken advantage of all of the opportunities in front of it this past weekend and posted a commanding victory, it’s hard to image them falling as far as they did this week. Instead Notre Dame stumbled, bumbled, and fumbled around Fenway Park Saturday evening and gave the Committee every reason they needed to drop them in the rankings.
Checking in a #6 with Oklahoma #3 is going to make things very, very difficult for Notre Dame now. Iowa and Michigan State checking at #5 and #4 isn’t nearly as much of a concern for Notre Dame since the two play each other.
Notre Dame’s opponents check in at #25 (Temple) and #15 (Navy) with #9 Stanford on the schedule this weekend. Oklahoma meanwhile will face off with their in-state rival #11 Oklahoma State. A win by Notre Dame in theory should be more impressive but the difference might be negligible. Notre Dame most likely now needs Oklahoma State to pull the upset in order to stake a claim to a playoff spot even if they are able to win at Stanford for the first time since 2007 this weekend.
Notre Dame also needs all of its opponents to play well this weekend – specifically Navy, USC, Temple, and Pitt. If all four win this weekend, there is a slight chance Notre Dame could end the season with five top 25 wins as Pitt and USC could sneak into the bottom of the top 25 with wins this weekend.
All is not lost for Notre Dame at this point, but tonight’s rankings just made Notre Dame’s road to playoffs a heck of a lot rockier than it was a week ago at this time.