Notre Dame Ranked 4th in Initial 2018 Playoff Rankings

Notre Dame is starting 4th in the 2018 College Football Playoff rankings – one spot where they reside currently in both the AP and Coaches Poll.  The Irish, despite an undefeated record come in one spot behind a LSU team that is currently a 14 point underdog to Alabama and who also lost earlier this season to a pretty overrated Florida team.

To no surprise, Alabama is ranked #1 and Clemson is ranked #2 even though the Tigers haven’t been nearly as dominant as Alabama to this point in the season.  Notre Dame’s 4th place ranking, however, is going to come as a surprise to many considering that the Irish are undefeated and are the only team in the top 4 to have a victory over a team in the top 5 – the 5th ranked Wolverines.

The playoff committee’s logic here is puzzling to say the least.  Yes, LSU has an impressive win over Georgia, but Notre Dame has arguably the most impressive win of the season of any team in the top 5 considering Michigan is currently ranked 5th.

The good news for Notre Dame here is that no team that has started 3rd in the initial CFP Rankings has ever made it to the playoffs by the end of the season.  LSU’s position in 3rd is almost certainly going to be short lived as well with the Tigers currently a two touchdown underdog to #1 Alabama at home this weekend.  If Alabama takes out the Tigers, LSU will drop and the Irish will move up to 3rd assuming that they win this weekend over Northwestern.

Well, that is unless the CFP committee is buying into the ridiculous narrative that Michigan is somehow better than Notre Dame even though the Irish led their September 1 meeting from start to finish and didn’t allow the Wolverines to score an offensive touchdown until there was just over two minutes remaining.  The Irish did so without Ian Book or Dexter Williams as well – two players that have completely changed the course of the Irish season.

Notre Dame’s lower than expected ranking in the initial rankings is a reversal of last year when the Irish were ranked higher than expected on the strength of their “good loss” to Georgia.  Apparently to the CFP Committee it is better to lose and look pretty than it is to win and look ugly, even when you have a win over a top 5 opponent.

Regardless of where the Irish are ranked now, their mission remains the same – win out and they will be in the playoffs.  That is all Notre Dame needs to be focusing on.  Brian Kelly and his staff might even be able to use these rankings to rally his teams in a “no one believes in you” play.

Other than #5 Michigan, the only other past or future Notre Dame opponent in the initial top 25 is Syracuse at #19.  Northwestern is on the fringe of the AP and Coaches Poll and likely is on the fringe of the CFP rankings as well.  Who here thought that Syracuse would be ranked higher than USC, Stanford, and Virginia Tech by October 30 back in August?  Put your hand down, you are lying.  Notre Dame and Syracuse square off in two weeks in Yankee Stadium.

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  1. ND wins and they are in. They will not leave out an undefeated ND. Lose one and you are out, no matter what else happens.

    There is no sane, logical argument to leave out a 12-0 ND team in favor of a 12-1 Michigan team that it beat.

  2. Just take care of business against pain in the ass Northwestern. ND loses on Saturday we can forget the playoff talk.

  3. What this tells me…we win out we are in as there is no way they’d ever keep an undefeated ND team out. However, we lose one, we are completely screwed. Obsession of the SEC continues for the committee.

    1. I generally agree. I just wonder, would the committee jump Michigan over ND if they win out and win the Big 10? Seeing some of the comments I’m not sure they wouldn’t screw ND out of a playoff spot. I thing that would be total BS because I still think head-to-head matchup has to count for something. I just don’t have much faith in the powers that be.

      1. It’ll be interesting to see. 12-0 is a must this year, that much is true. Lose any of the next 4 games and it’s all over. I can’t think of a scenario this year where ND can get in as 11-1 (barring some historic collapse by multiple teams).

        I just hope that will be enough. If LSU loses this weekend I think that will solidify ND’s position. Michigan would probably still sneak in the top 4, but in that case it wouldn’t be at ND’s expense (and of course Michigan still would have to beat OSU and win the Big 10 title, granted all big ifs).

  4. I could see some trouble for the Irish down the road if the CFB rankings. One is if LSU does somehow beat Alabama. Now we all know Bama already has a gimmee loss. Say they lose to LSU wins out and wins the SEC. Then 1 loss LSU and Alabama are in. Assume Clemson wins out as well and is in. There’s 3 teams. And finally let’s assume Michigan wins out and wins the Big 10 title. I can very well see a scenario where they’d put Michigan in the CFB playoff at the expense of an undefeated ND despite the head to head matchup using the excuse that they won a conference championship (the playoff teams would be LSU, Alabama, Clemson and Michigan).

    Our best bet is actually for Alabama to beat LSU knocking them out of the mix and that should clear the way for an undefeated ND no matter what they do with Michigan.

    1. your logic makes zero sense. more than that I would bet the farm on it. Notre Dame choose to be Independent. With no conference championship it is their choice to every year run the gauntlet no matter how good or bad they are that particular year. Remember all the excitement until they faced Alabama? Remember what happened in Miami? This is a better ND team because now they are not so one dimensional and predictable on offence. However, what does it matter whether they 3 or 4, because theres a whole lot of games to go for everyone, and in the end the best 4 teams will be in the playoff. Unless Tua gets injured, theres only one winner this season, but it would be great for ND to be there at the end or in the play off and perform well. Period. This SEC conspiracy or Anti ND BS is tiresome. the suggestion Michigan get in before an unbeaten Notre Dame is deluded.

      1. Yeah, well I hope you’re right. I’ve seen CFB scenarios occur in the past that. The bias I’m referring to is not necessarily anti-ND bias (at last not in the old Catholic bias sense) but more the conference bias. Yes, in my scenario I can absolutely see the CFB committee saying Michigan is a conference champion so we’re putting them in over non-con ND. I’m afraid I’m more cynical about the PTB in college football.

        And I wasn’t saying anything about any SEC conspiracy. I think there’s a bit of bias towards some of the top SEC teams. For instance, we all know Alabama has a built in loss (including in the SEC championship game). Now you can argue they maybe deserve that because of recent history, but it’s there nonetheless. A hypothetical 1 loss Vanderbilt team (just for the sake of argument) would not be given the same chance.

        Now if LSU loses this weekend then ND is safe. I don’t see any other 1 loss teams out there that would jump ND. Of the 1 loss teams the Committee seems most impressed with LSU and Michigan.

        The team, well, they just need to worry about NW right now. Lose that game and it will really be over for the Irish. I was just noting a scenario where I can see ND being left out. I think it would be BS, but yes, I think it’s possible. I’ve seen too much crazy stuff out of CFB not to at least consider it a possibility.

  5. Eventually this whole mess will lead to the cause of an NCAA total shake up. Will it be because an undefeated Notre Dame gets left out of a four team playoff and instead two one loss SEC schools and a one loss Big Ten Champion are chosen instead. Although this would be painful to watch as a Notre Dame Alum…The total chaos that would ensue and potential destruction of the most corrupt organization in all of sports the NCAA, would be a nice consolation prize.

    1. I know it’s a great talking point that the NCAA is corrupt but they award almost $3B in scholarships every year to over 150,000 kids. Most athletic programs don’t turn a profit.

      Could they do a better job, sure but the IOC is way worse.

    2. I still believe that college athletics is as crooked at it has or ever will be. Get serious, ND should have been ranked #3 in the CFP 1st poll. The problem is the composition of the individuals sitting on that committee. They are taking care of their schools. ND has no one on that committee representing the Irish interest. It’s all crooked and always will be.
      Just watch the replays on a gigantic video board right in the stadium and the result comes back “ruling on the field stands.” THIS despite video of the questionable call. Vegas controls sports. Refs are in the pockets of Vegas. If you think the NCAA is fair, just take a look at the vacating of ND wins over infractions that ND itself reported as required to the NCAA. End result ND got screwed. Go ahead and pretend it’s all a level playing field. Only fools could possibly believe otherwise.

      1. I’m not sure it’s an anti-ND bias, more a pro-conference bias. But I do agree the vacating of wins was BS, esp. when you compare it to UNC’s infractions. The NCAA excuse they were doing the same thing for everybody was about the lamest excuse I’
        ve ever heard. Imagine you’re parents catching you cheating and you’re excuse was ‘everyone was doing it’. I know that wouldn’t have flown in my house. Yet for the NCAA, no problem.

  6. The only poll that carries meaning is the final poll determining the 4 playoff teams. ND needs to focus on the next game, the next objective, beat Northwestern. I have been hearing much “pundit” chatter that this is the game ND will lose and demonstrate their unworthiness of being in the top 4. ND controls their own destiny now.

    Go Blue & Gold

  7. My only worry is that I hope that ND doesn’t have to face Alabama in any of the cfp games if ND wins out. I know that on any given day any team can beat any other team but if we play bama again, will it be ND’s given day?

  8. Just glad we avoided the #3 kiss of death ranking we had last year. I agree that if we continue to be ranked 4th that’s a good thing to keep the guys focused and hungry to prove something.


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