Tonight’s Playoff Rankings Critical for Notre Dame

Notre Dame CFP Rankings Week 13
Photo: Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire

Many have argued that the only College Football Playoff Rankings that really matter are the final ones that will be announced on December 6 because they are the rankings that determine the playoff teams.  While this is true in a sense, tonight’s playoff rankings are of utmost importance to Notre Dame heading into the final week of the regular season.

Notre Dame clung on to the 4th spot in the rankings last week despite Oklahoma beating Baylor on the road and Oklahoma State taking down TCU all while staying ahead of Iowa who remained unbeaten.  This week, however, the Irish hung up about as ugly of a win as you could put in front of the committee’s faces with its 19-16 letdown performance against previously 3-7 Boston College.

Ever since the Irish’s lackluster showing and Oklahoma’s narrow victory over a TCU team playing without it’s two star players, the debate has been raging over who was more deserving of the 4th spot in the rankings and where the two teams net out tonight is absolutely critical for Notre Dame’s playoff chances.

With a trip to Stanford on tap for Notre Dame and the yearly “Bedlam” showdown for Oklahoma with in-state rival Oklahoma State, both teams will be facing off against potential Top 10 opponents.  Oklahoma State was 6th before their loss to Baylor but could still stay within the top 10 potentially.  Wherever they net out, they will likely be ranked right around Stanford meaning Notre Dame and Oklahoma will be playing similar level opponents this weekend.

With similar opponents this weekend, no games next weekend, and similar resumes for Notre Dame and Oklahoma; where the two teams are ranked tonight will be very telling.  Should Oklahoma jump Notre Dame tonight in the rankings, it will take a monumental effort or a Sooners loss this weekend to jump back into the top 4 (or some real chaos that completely shakes up the rankings).

There is also the matter of Michigan State and Iowa potentially jumping Notre Dame although even if both do, it won’t impact Notre Dame’s long term playoff potential sine both schools would play each other in the Big 10 Championship assuming both win this weekend so one would knock out the other.

It’s Oklahoma that Notre Dame needs to stay ranked ahead of this weekend in order to have any sort of control over their own destiny this weekend.  Even then a close win by Notre Dame this weekend and a Sooner blowout could push Oklahoma ahead in the final rankings.  All things being equal, however, it’s hard to imagine the committee moving either team ahead of the other in the final rankings if both were to win with similar margins this weekend.

Last week I was confident that Notre Dame would remain 4th despite what many considered to be a ho-hum win over Wake Forest.  This week I’m not nearly as confident.  One thing I know I won’t be concerned with is if Notre Dame drops to 5th but does so behind Iowa and Michigan State given their likely showdown.

It should be noted that both the AP and Coaches Polls still have Notre Dame ranked ahead of Oklahoma and Michigan State.  Neither poll, however, has any impact on the CFP Rankings.  The only thing that matters there is the opinion of the committee.

Of course, all of this becomes moot if Notre Dame loses this weekend to Stanford, but where Notre Dame is ranked tonight could directly impact Notre Dame’s psyche heading into the showdown with Stanford.  If Notre Dame holds on to that 4th spot tonight, they will head into Palo Alto knowing that a win very likely stamps their ticket to the playoffs.  A if the Irish fall behind Oklahoma though, they will be fighting the Cardinal and the disappointment that comes with falling in the rankings at just the wrong time.

So, while the rankings on December 6th are the ones that only really matter in the grand scheme of things, tonight’s will set the table for this year’s Thanksgiving games and will paint a pretty clear picture of Notre Dame’s playoff chances.

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  1. Oh ,I didn’t blame pollsters. Those teams did have high ranked D’s. I’m very aware of what ND controlled. Since the Clemson loss..Up until the conference championships. At that point who would know. ND would not have necessarily controlled their own destiny at that point. You sure are upset. Hope they win for you this week end. You realize their is now approximately 130 schools. Right? Hardly mediocre., even these last few years. Come on. Give them the credit they deserve. Top notch program again. Thanks.

  2. I think you should suit up. Be a “walk On”. Then it will be yours. Loosing sleep? Seriously? Excuses? Mediocrity? Nah, I pretty sure the program and players give their best. I know when schedules are signed its for solid competition. Your over the top. 85 Bears? Steel Curtain? I know I remember those teams being garbage for extended periods of time. Sorry I couldn’t even read all that diatribe. Just skim. I’ll have a cold one for you at the Stanford game though. Thanks.

  3. 10-1 this year. What was the record the season before? And the season before that? And for so many other seasons since 1988?

    How many defeats to bad teams (at home no less) in the BK era alone? How many more under CW, TW, BD, and even at the end of the Holtz era?

    Stop with the excuses and selective memory!

  4. Yes, mediocrity is settling for and constantly finding excuses for not dominating teams ND should dominate. We should believe that BC’s D is better than that of the 85 Bears. Except that ND went up and down the field on that D but didn’t score inside the Red Zone. And that has nothing to do with BC’s D since ND has had Red Zone problems against everybody for years now. So enough of BC’s D being the second-coming of the Steel Curtain. The week before we were told Wake’s D was great and then Clemson scored 30+ on them before calling off the dogs in the first half. Before that we were told that Temple’s D was the best. The following week Temple gives up a ton of points against USF no less. Enough of making excuses already! This team has looked bad the last two weeks and it cost them. Plain and simple. If you need to find excuses to allow you to sleep at night, so be it.

    How many more years of excuses before ND wins a NC? How long has it been since ND’s last title?

    I don’t want to hear more excuses trying to pass off as answers to the above questions.

    Bottom line is ND controlled its own destiny and blew it. Don’t blame Wake or BC or the pollsters or some anti-ND bias. This team brought this upon themselves.

  5. Mediocrity? Funny because all those turnovers ND gave up were forced and earned by B.C. Inexperienced players. Their game plan was executed defensively. That’s why they have #1 rated “D”. So sell them short. They nearly pulled it out. Many of us were not surprised at the games outcome. That’s why I said just win. Expecting and seen it before. Same goes for Stanford. Those young men are not giving mediocre effort. Not the coaching/program staff either. “True Sons of ND” be rewarded? That team is not ours! We are only fans. That team belongs to them and the program. So as a fan you feel you deserve to be rewarded beyond what the program is already excelling at. Are you part owner? I myself would never think ND football etc. owed me anything. I always refer to the team as ND and never “we”. Respect. It’s theirs. They earned it. Not us. So I am thankful, nor do I settle for mediocrity. But I will be at the game Saturday enjoying and proud for their efforts period. Thanks.

  6. Even if Clemson loses now, they would probably edge us with 1 loss and head to head advantage, and the Big 10 has 2 teams ahead of us, so 1 of them getting in is a lock. After granting the two spots to the ACC/B1G, and if ND beats #9 Stanford, that leaves 2 spots for:

    2. AL
    3. OK
    6. ND
    7. Baylor

    11. OK St.
    12. FL

    I think FL St. will destroy FL, knocking them out. If AL or OK win out, they would seem to be in. So we need an AL or OK loss. If both happen, we’re a cinch. Don’t think OK St could jump us (5 spots lower) even with a win over OK) and Baylor beating has 2 games to make up ground on us, so rooting for TX or TCU to take out Baylor.

    FWIW, AL is 1-1 against the Top 25, could go to 0-1 the next edition (only win is over MS St). ND is 2-1, could go to 3-1, or even 4-1. OK is 2-0. Baylor is 1-1, having only beaten TCU.

    Go Irish, go Auburn, go Cowboys and go Horned Frogs.

  7. Congratulations to all those on here happy with ND “just winning” and “letting the chips fall where they may.” You got what that attitude deserves.

    Perhaps one day true sons of ND will be rewarded with a championship-caliber team. Then we won’t have to hear from those who settle so easily for mediocrity.

    Go Irish!

  8. Well it looks like the committee was very impressed with ND’s lackluster effort against BC. I’m not surprised at all and think it is deserving. Still a sliver of hope but lets face it ND is not peaking at the right time.

  9. Said it before and I’ll say it again the Irish win and their in, 11-1 is better then any 11-1 Big 12 team. But I’ll admit I’m biased toward N.D., go IRISH.

  10. Temple 9-2
    Navy 9-1
    Clemson 11-0
    Wake Forrest 3-8
    BC 3-8
    Pitt 8-3
    Virginia 4-7
    GT 3-8
    UMASS 2-9
    TX 4-6
    USC 7-4

    Still to play Stanford 9-2

    Hard to argue the point when our schedule looks like this.

  11. @FXM – I totally agree. ALL YEAR LONG we’ve had the (un-champion) habit of playing to the level of our competition. While that “worked” with #1-ranked Clemson, we still lost that one. And people mention “impressive wins” in terms of our opponents’ records? FT! (forget that) An impressive win is EXCELLENT. And think of that word – to EXCEL at something you’re beyond it, not on the same level. Peace.

  12. I’ve always thought the Big 12 had more of a rich mahogany smell to them, but I digress. Think what you must but it will be awfully tough for a room full of humans to keep the Big12 Champ out of the playoffs two years in a row.

  13. The BIG 12 stinks.
    Here’s their top 4 teams:

    #6 Oklahoma St. 10-1
    #7 Oklahoma 10-1
    #10 Baylor 9-1
    #18 TCU 9-2

    And here’s their conference competition:
    Kansas 0-11
    Iowa St. 3-8
    Kansas St. 4-6
    Texas 4-6
    Texas Tech 6-5
    W.Virginia 6-4

  14. I cannot believe more weight is not given to who you lose and how you lose. If you lose close to a really good team it gives and indication that you can potentially beat anyone. Whereas if you lose to a 4-7 team you have to be punished. I think ND has wins over three ranked teams and a fourth, USC that is more than capable of playing well.

  15. This is all true. If we beat Stanford but fall out of the playoffs, then BC would have achieved its goal indirectly of knocking ND out of the playoffs. I would have no doubt in the scenario that the BC game cost us the playoffs.

    It’s hard to predict where ND will be. For OK, the most damning game was Texas. Even ignoring our win over Texas, that is a damning loss for OK. Our only loss is to the number 1 team in the country. That is one thing we have in our favor. Had the BC letdown occurred in September, it probably would not even be an issue. It’s all about timing.

    All ND can do is play their best game Saturday. That is the only thing they can really control at this point.

  16. The most damning thing I have heard any analyst say about us, and it is hard to dispute is, “ND is very resilient, but they simply are not playing what I would call championship football.”

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