Notre Dame Road to the Playoffs ’17: Week 11 Game Guide

For the second weekend in a row Notre Dame is ranked 3rd in the College Football Playoff Rankings.  This weekend however, the Irish are playing in the marquee games of the week by traveling to South Bend to take on #7 and unbeaten Miami.  A win would very likely set up the Irish in prime position to make the College Football Playoffs regardless of what anyone else does – assuming the Irish win out obviously.  Still, it wouldn’t be the worst if Notre Dame got help like it did last weekend.

When Ohio State and Penn State both lost a week ago, it knocked two former one loss teams out of the playoffs discussion.  With a number of matchups of ranked foes, more chaos is on the horizon.

Contender Watch


#9 Washington @ Stanford – 10:30 PM ET (FS1) – Washington would have a tough time passing a one loss Notre Dame team even if they won out since they might not face a ranked opponent until their season finale.  Having Stanford upset Washington though would be very good for Notre Dame since it could get The Cardinal ranked for the Thanksgiving weekend showdown with Notre Dame.


#1 Georgia @ #10 Auburn3:30 PM ET (CBS) – At this point, Notre Dame needs Georgia to either be undefeated or to lose two games.  The Bulldogs currently have a 2.5 game lead on South Carolina in the SEC East so even if they lost this weekend, they would still have a relatively easy path to the SEC Title game.  A win by Georgia keeps Notre Dame’s loss as the “best loss” among all one loss playoff contenders though.

#2 Alabama @ #16 Mississippi State – 7:00 PM ET (ESPN) – With the injuries mounting for Alabama, a loss here is not out of the question and would be potentially huge for Notre Dame.  If Bama were to lose this weekend and the Irish were to knock off the Hurricanes, Notre Dame would find itself ranked 2th next week. Notre Dame would have an easier argument over a one loss Alabama as opposed to a one loss Georgia.

#4 Clemson vs. Florida State3:30 PM (ESPN) – Florida State has been putrid.  Could they pull off the upset here and take another one loss team out of the equation?  Probably not.

#5 Oklahoma vs. #6 TCU8:00 PM (FOX) – The one one-loss team that worries me the most is Oklahoma.  Maybe its flashbacks from 2015 when the Sooners were the media darling and would have gone to the playoffs over Notre Dame even if they hadn’t lost to Stanford to end the regular season.  A TCU win here is much more beneficial for Notre Dame.

#8 Wisconsin vs. #20 Iowa  3:30 PM (ABC) – There isn’t anything to worry about with Wisconsin until they get to the Big 10 Title Game undefeated.  That is far from a guarantee though.  The Hawkeyes ended Ohio State’s playoff hopes, could they do the same to the Badgers this week?  It would be nice if so.

Opponent Watch

Tuesday MACtion

Miami Ohio 24 – Arkon 14 – Chuck Martin’s boys got another win this week to improve to 4-6.  The Red Hawks would still reach a bowl if they win their next two games.


North Carolina @ Pitt – 7:30 PM (ESPN) – At this point, there isn’t anything the Tar Heels can do to make Notre Dame’s win over them seem remotely impressive.


Temple @ Cincinnati – 7:00 PM (ESPN2) – At 4-5 Temple has a chance to end the season with a winning record and reach a bowl game too.  Having another win over a bowl team wouldn’t hurt.


Boston College vs. #23 NC State 12:00 PM (ABC) – Notre Dame beat both impressively already but the win over NC State will look even better if the Wolfpack were to win out and finish the season in the Top 20.  NC State staying in the top 25 this week was a very nice development for Notre Dame.

#12 Michigan State @ #13 Ohio State – 12:00 PM (FOX) – A win here by the Spartans would be huge for the Irish as it could push Michigan State into the top 10 depending on how some of the games above shake out.  Seeing Urban Meyer lose again wouldn’t be a bad thing either.

#11 USC @ Colorado4:00 PM (FOX) – Notre Dame needs USC to win out, win the Pac 12 and finish the season in the top 10.  A win this weekend over Colorado could push USC into the top 10 already.

Wake Forest @ Syracuse – 3:00 PM – This should be a win for the Demon Deacons to improve their record to 6-4.

Navy vs. SMU3:30 PM (CBSSN) – Navy could be undefeated and Notre Dame probably wouldn’t get much credit for beating them honestly.  Navy has been slumping lately though with three straight losses.  Notre Dame will host them next weekend.

So Who Are We Rooting For

  1. Notre Dame.  Duh
  2. Michigan State.  Of all the games that would help Notre Dame the most this is the one.
  3. TCU. It’d be best to end any conversation about Oklahoma and the playoffs now.
  4. Mississippi State. Knowing Nick Saban the Tide will still probably role here, but this one would be big.
  5.  USC.  I know it’s tough, but we need them to win out. Then they can lose their bowl game.
  6. NC State.  Even though Dave Doerer is becoming one of the most annoying head coaches in the country, we need them to win.
  7. Iowa.  It’s gonna be tough to pull off wins over  Ohio State and Wisconsin in back to back weeks, but Wisconsin isn’t that good so maybe.
  8. Florida State. They could make their season with an upset of Clemson.

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  1. Wasn’t worried about this game until I saw Miami dismantle Virginia Tech. We need the defense to step up big in this game because I feel like Miami is peaking on defense.
    GO IRISH!!

  2. Feel like MSU is tricky. I get that them winning makes our win look better, but I do still worry about an undefeated Wisconsin. Could you honestly say that you’d rather have Sparty in that B1G title game facing UW than Ohio State? As long as Wisconsin keeps winning, part of me can’t help but think that we’ve gotten plenty of mileage out of MSU already and that I’d rather have Ohio State in position to wax the Badgers (which I feel confident they would do). Go Irish.

  3. Notre Dame could have that “13th” data point all the big 12 raves about. Just play number 2 in the independent league. Army is number 2 in league standings. Army easily equals the Citadel that Clemson plays next weekend. Power 5 whines about Notre Dame not having a conference championship but we know not all “data” points are equal. Also, Miami will only play 12 games also.

  4. I too am concerned about Oklahoma. Clemson is already in the top 4, if they win out they’re in, and they have a good chance at winning out. But OK has a gauntlet to run and could potentially overtake us if they win out. Now the committee puts some value in defenses, of which they had none last week. But they are dangerous.

    Forget Alabama, IMO. Even if they lose this weekend, they’ll get a mulligan if they win out. They’d need to lose 2 to fall out of the top 4.

    If ND wins out, I’m reasonable confident they’ll be in the top 4–OK being the one team that worries me. At this point, if bama and the Bulldogs get to the SEC championship game unscathed they’ll both be in regardless of the outcome. But you know what peohaters will be complaining about, not 2 SEC teams being in the playoffs, but ND being in it. Just wait and see the usual complaints, “ND should be in a conference” or my all time favorite…”They play Navy every year”. I know, the SEC and Big 10 would never play a cupcake team….oh wait

      1. Just don’t want to jinx anything. Last week I finally thought they’d have smooth sailing in a game and it was closer then I would have liked. So I figured I’d go back to being nervous about a game.

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