Championship Weekend: Impact on Undefeated, Idle Notre Dame

As Notre Dame secured their playoff spot under the bright lights of the LA Coliseum, their destination is still unknown. As conference championships approach, there are several storylines that will determine not only where the Irish play, but who they play. Will there be a rematch of the 2012 National Championship against Alabama, another battle against Dabo Swinney’s Clemson Tigers or perhaps a new opponent? It will all be settled this weekend.

Two Possible Locations for the Irish:

Notre Dame will either be headed to Dallas or Miami. The last time the Irish played at the Orange Bowl was against the Miami Hurricanes last season, and before that was the 2012 National Championship against Alabama. It’s fair to say that history has not been on Notre Dame’s side when it comes to the Orange Bowl.

As far as the Cotton Bowl, the Fighting Irish played at AT & T Stadium for the Shamrock Series Game in 2013. Brian Kelly coached the Irish to a victory over the Arizona State Sun Devils. However, the last time Notre Dame played in the actual “Cotton Bowl Game” was in 1993 when Lou Holtz beat the Texas A & M Aggies.

#1 Overall Seed determines the location:

Unbeknownst to many fans across the country, the #1 seed in the College Football Playoffs determines where the semifinal rounds get played as the committee will not put the #1 seed at a geographic disadvantage. For instance, if Alabama is #1 and hypothetically plays #4 Oklahoma, they will probably play in the Orange Bowl in Miami given Oklahoma’s proximity to the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.

Can anyone beat Alabama?

Many Irish fans have memories of the 2012 National Championship Game with Alabama and fear the same result if they were to meet on the gridiron again. One thing is for certain, this Notre Dame Fighting Irish team is a more complete and well-rounded football team than in 2012.

However, Alabama is also light years ahead of where they were in 2012. Now that Nick Saban has followed the rest of college football and adopted the spread offense, the Crimson Tide appear unstoppable. Their best competition to date was the #10 LSU Tigers, who they beat on the road 29 to 0.

It’s important to see how the Crimson Tide play against the Bulldogs this Saturday. If Georgia can compete like they did in the National Championship Game last season, that is good news for the other teams in the playoffs. However, if Georgia is blown out by Alabama, that may set the precedent for the playoffs.

Power 5 Conference Championship Matchups:

SEC Championship

Location: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia

Matchup: #1 (12-0) Alabama Crimson Tide vs. #4 (11-1) Georgia Bulldogs

Storyline: A rematch of last year’s National Championship Game. The Bulldogs had a 13-0 lead at halftime and were shutting down the Alabama Offense. Nick Saban decided to bring in Tua Tagovailoa and the rest is history. Can Georgia slow down the Alabama Offense? This game will determine how many playoff spots are available to the rest of college football.

My Prediction: Alabama Crimson Tide

Big 10 Championship

Location: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana

Matchup: #6 (11-1) Ohio State Buckeyes vs. #21 (8-4) Northwestern Wildcats

Storyline: Ohio State played their best game of the season last weekend against Michigan. It appears everyone has forgotten they were a missed pass by Maryland’s quarterback (on a 2-point conversion) away from having 2 losses. Nevertheless, the Buckeyes may have awoken.

Northwestern has a chance to face a Buckeye team that may be overlooking them and have the potential for a letdown game. Northwestern has already lost to Notre Dame and Michigan at home, it may take a miracle to beat Ohio State at a neutral site.

My Prediction: Ohio State Buckeyes

Big 12 Championship

Location: AT & T Stadium, Arlington, Texas

Matchup: #5 (11-1) Oklahoma Sooners vs. #14 (9-3) Texas Longhorns

Storyline: The Red River Rivalry is back. This game will not take place at the Old Cotton Bowl, but AT & T Stadium. Oklahoma looks to get revenge after a 3-point loss to the Longhorns earlier this season. The Sooners are led by Heisman hopeful Kyler Murray. As Tom Herman attempts to sweep this season’s series for the Longhorns, expect a lot of points to be scored in this matchup.

My Prediction: Oklahoma Sooners

ACC Championship

Location: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina

Matchup: #2 (12-0) Clemson Tigers vs.  (7-5) Pittsburgh Panthers

Storyline: Clemson is an overwhelming favorite in the ACC Championship game against Pittsburgh. The Panthers were able to take Notre Dame to the wire earlier in the season by running and holding on to the football. But Clemson is one game from the Playoffs and have been getting better every week, I don’t expect this to be a close game.

My Prediction: Clemson Tigers

Pac 12 Championship

Location: Levi’s Stadium, San Francisco, California

Matchup: #17 (9-3) Utah Utes vs. #11 (9-3) Washington Huskies

Storyline: No USC or Stanford in the Pac-12 Title game. The storyline all season in the Pac-12 was Mike Leach and the Washington State Cougars. After Washington went into Pullman and beat them, they now have an opportunity to win their 2nd Pac-12 title in the last 3 years. Utah has also had a great season in their own regard. Although they aren’t playing for the College Football Playoffs this game will determine who represents the Pac-12 in the Rose Bowl.

My Prediction: Washington Huskies

Playoff Predictions

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are in the playoffs, no matter what “click bait” on the internet attempts to say otherwise. That leaves 3 playoff spots up for grabs. Certainly, I believe Clemson will take care of business against Pittsburgh, which will only leave two remaining spots.

I have Alabama beating Georgia in the SEC Championship Game, which will knock Georgia out and give Alabama the #1 overall seed. But if Georgia were able to beat the Crimson Tide, that would cause a lot of controversy around college football.

Nevertheless, I believe there is only 1 final playoff spot up for grabs. It comes down to Oklahoma and Ohio State. Yes, Ohio State looks impressive against Michigan, but they got blown out by Purdue and should have lost to Penn State as well as Maryland.

Since Oklahoma is sitting at #5 and they play #14 Texas this weekend, I don’t know how Ohio State can pass them up with a win against #21 Northwestern, but we’ll find out this Sunday when the final poll is released.

My Prediction

1 Alabama vs. #4 Oklahoma (Orange Bowl)

#2 Clemson vs. #3 Notre Dame (Cotton Bowl)


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  1. Last night Bama built a 4th quarter wall. My Grandmother could have passed over it. Consider five star left tackle Tommy Brown ( freshman) never saw the field. Until someone can scale that wall Bama looks unbeatable.

  2. Many weeks ago, Paul Feinbaum noted that Georgia has one problem, “they can’t beat ALABAMA.” And it’s true! When was the last time Georgia beat Alabama? When was the last time Michigan beat OSU, for that matter?
    So put the Dawgs in there if you want to guys, at seed 4, so they can lose to BAMA again, for the third time in a calendar year.

    BGC ’77 ’82

    1. SO true B G C GEORGIA lost to a 3 loss LSU team by 20pts, not to mention just blew a 14pt second half lead to BAMA in title game with everything on the line!! Kirby Smart’s decision to run a fake punt on 4th and 11 from mid-field was horrible!! BAMA left it’s defense in the game in case they tried a fake, if that was KELLY guys would be calling for his job today!!! SMARTS decision told u two things; 1- He had ‘ NO ‘ confidence his defense could stop BAMA from driving 55-60 yards for a FG ( BAMA’S FG KICKER IS HORRIBLE ) that was no gimme! 2- Even the best coaches make bad decisions under pressure, no need for a 3 peat of BAMA VS GEORGIA we’ve seen this story twice now in 1 year!!

  3. There are 7 teams that could argue they deserve a shot at the CFP.
    Bama, Clemson, ND UCF, Georgia, OK, and OSU.
    Again, three will be excluded. Hopefully they will move to at least six qualifiers; this year would have been ideal for that, with Bama and Clemson getting a bye, with 3 vs. 6 and 4 vs. 5.
    This would have added a total of one more game to four teams, and given the top two teams an advantage by having a week off to prepare for the winners of the first round. It’s obvious that four teams are not enough, and eight teams wouldn’t give the top two teams a big enough advantage for earning the top two spots.
    Adding one more game for #s 3-6 would certainly be welcome by them, and would diminish the chatter of who is really third, or fourth or fifth. or sixth. But again, this year proves four teams heading into the CFP are not enough- again!

  4. My SIX best teams at seasons end. 1. Alabama 2. Clemson 3. Georgia 4. Ohio State 5. Notre Dame 6. Oklahoma

    What the Playoffs should look like. Alabama vs Ohio State Clemson vs Notre Dame

    There is a lot of talk out there that Georgia should be in the playoffs as a 3 seed ahead of 4 seed Notre Dame. Absolute Garbage. 2 losses is unacceptable .

  5. This is horse pucky tthere needs to b a playoff just as rhere is in the NFL thats the fare and right way to determin the best not some good old boys in a meeting room

  6. One thing I hope is that we don’t face Alabama in the first round. Given weeks to prepare, Alabama will be deadly. Our best shot would be to meet them in the actual NC game (assuming we make it past the 1st round ourselves).

    Alabama will still be incredibly difficult to beat but we might have a better shot if they only have a week to prepare.

    I’m still leery of facing Alabama. However, as Mike noted above, this is a better team I think then we had in 2012. The defense in 2012 may have been a bit better during the regular season (though they failed to show up at all in the NC game–I don’t care how good Alabama was, our defense was a complete no show in that game). But our defense is till very much a factor in our success this year.

    The one difference is our offense is a much better unit this year than 2012. I think that may give us a shot against most other teams in the CFB playoff. But as Mike noted, Alabama is better this year than 2012 themselves. My hope is we face someone else the first week.

  7. There is no way that OSU will get in the playoffs and they leave ND out. We are undefeated and they lost to an unranked team by 29 points. Georgia could jump to number 2 if they beat Alabama and ND would stay at 3. ND will either stay the same or move up in the rankings

  8. The #1 seed does NOT get to pick where they play…they play in the stadium they are closest to, which means Alabama plays in Texas. They don’t get to pick Miami just because it’s farther away for Oklahoma.

    1. Actually, I may retract this after having done more research. Just read an article in USA Today that said door semifinal game location, the Committee’s goal is to avoid the higher seed playing in a “road environment”…in most cases, this would mean Alabama would play in Texas, which is slightly closer to them…however, if Alabama was playing Oklahoma, then I agree they’d likely be placed in Miami to avoid road environment due to Oklahoma’s favorable proximity to TX. But with any other team in the conversation, Alabama would play in TX. I soooo hate that Miami stadium!!

    2. Maybe it’s worded incorrectly. Here is the info directly from the CFP website

      When assigning teams to the two sites, the selection committee will place the top two seeds at the most advantageous sites,
      weighing criteria such as convenience of travel for its fans, home-crowd advantage or disadvantage and general familiarity
      with the host city and its stadium. Preference will go to the No. 1 seed.

  9. I hope Alabama plays in the first game in the playoffs. If they smoke Ohio State or Oklahoma then I will pull for Clemson to beat the Irish in a close game. I know a lot of you will jump all over me but I say this out of love for Notredame if they get walloped. It will hurt Notredame far more than it will hurt Ohio State Clemson and Oklahoma getting crushed because those programs have all won national championships and been an elite team in the recent past a lot more than Notredame has.

    1. I disagree. I don’t think Notre Dame will get walloped as badly as they did last time they played Alabama. Furthermore, avoiding playing against the best because one is afraid of losing too badly is the same craven attitude that has caused us to dumb down our educational curricula nationwide to avoid traumatizing our children with failure. Getting stomped by Alabama is a learning experience. It was last time, and if it happens again, it will be again.

      Finally, how many five-star athletes are going to be more interested in beating Alabama than joining them? I’d rather that they think that their best chance to do that is at Notre Dame rather than at Clemson or Georgia.

    2. That is the most craven thing I have ever heard. Disgusting. You’re not a true fan. I have to believe you are a millennial or younger…I hope.

    3. Pete,

      I can never root against ND. Bottom line.

      However, what others miss is that you’re right. If ND gets pummeled by Clemson or Bama that would be very bad and might mean that even an undefeated ND teams gets left out in the (especially) near future.

      IF ND makes the POs, it better bring its A+ game or face the national consequences and merciless pounding from media and opposing fan bases.

      More on the “IF” above in a few moments.

      Go Irish,

      1. OK, here’s what I meant by “IF ND makes the POs….”

        This could be a real nightmare scenario. I’m not saying it will happen or that even if it did ND would get screwed.


        Let’s say Georgia beats Bama in an instant classic…..

        Let’s say Clemson beats Pitt, no matter by how much or how little….

        Now, let’s say Ohio St. drills a NW team ND struggled with….

        What could this possibly entail for ND’s PO chances?

        Clemson goes to 1; UGA goes to 2; Ohio St. goes to 3; Bama drops to 4.

        The logic is as follows: Clemson was 2 and with Bama loss jumps to 1, easy enough; UGA beats Bama and gets major props for that and rises to 2; Ohio St. gets the benefit of the committee remembering only its last two games and wants to avoid a quick UGA-Bama rematch to the Buckeyes get slotted at 3; everyone’s favorite Bama doesn’t get left out and gets put at 4.

        That leaves the Irish on the outside looking in. Basically the committee decides that a one-loss UGA, Ohio St., and Bama are better than ND and would fare better in the POs than the Irish.

        Now, let me get real conspiratorial! How about if the committee has a secret agenda to go from 4 to 8 teams? What better way to make that claim than to leave out an unbeaten ND, put in three 1-loss teams, and absorb the abuse for their desired end?!

        I’m not saying any of this is probable or even possible.

        Just trying to generate some commentary!

      2. Notre Dame is in the PLAYOFFS regardless of any outcome this weekend. They will be a 2 or 3 seed most likely a 3. The other five teams trying to earn a playoff spot are all more talented than Notre Dame but ND is undefeated against a tough schedule and there is absolutely no scenario that sees them get passed by for a playoff spot. Relax SteelFan its a WRAP.

      3. Jeff,

        I think it’s 90%-95% sure ND makes the POs.

        But if the scenario I laid out happens exactly like I laid it out, I can see some arguing the merits of one-loss Bama and one-loss Ohio St. over ND.

    4. Sorry I’m not “rooting” for Notre Dame to lose. I want them to beat Clemson and then beat Alabama. There’s no reason why they cannot. Stranger things have happened in sports. If you’re hoping for Notre Dame to make the playoffs and lose then why make the playoffs at all? The mindset has got to be that they’re going to win. If they get pounded then so be it.

    5. CMON PETE how can you say that? These kids busted their ass all year to get here!! Making the playoffs means the recruits believe the IRISH can play with anybody!! OHIO STATE got walloped last year, everybody BAMA plays gets walloped this year!! They’ve made hero’s out of LSU for losing 29-0 at home to BAMA!! Let’s enjoy the ride not worry about it, if your scared get a dog!! GO IRISH!!!

      1. I would truly never root against Notredame . I just care too much and am sick of everyone trashing them all the time.Also I am not a young person. I started following Notredame in 1964 Aras first year. They need to win or play whoever done to the wire. No blowouts because I do believe it would hurt the program.

    6. Trolling?

      A first round playoff win is better than a first round loss no matter what happens in the Championship Game. Winning the #2 vs. #3 game absolutely legitimizes the season.

  10. The worst travesty is that the playoffs are on pay extra tv. I refuse to ante up. Absolutely ridiculous that the playoffs aren’t televised on the major networks. But, I’ve decided to check out where the local ND club hangs out.

    1. Um…really? I’ve googled around and all I see is that ESPN is supposed to broadcast them through 2025. Unless you’re saying that you can’t get ESPN unless you’re paying for cable TV, I’m wondering if perhaps you’re misinformed on this.

      1. NCAA basketball final Four on regular tv. Jeopardy all star tournament on regular tv. I’ll just go to the Irish sports bar, grab some fish & chips with all the other loyal Notre Dame fans.

    2. For those of us who cut the cord it’s pay TV. If you cannot get it with the antenna you are paying a premium to watch it. He is correct. I’m in the same boat. As a note, sign up for a free trial to sling TV or Hulu TV or any of the others and cancel after the games. I did that for the Northwestern Game.

    3. GK you have no ESPN? My GOD young man your livin in the 70’s!! ESPN IS college football, I can’t live without it!! EVEN dopey davey has ESPN he just doesn’t watch it ‘LIVE’ he tapes it and watches the games 2 days later!! GO IRISH AND GO GK !!!

      1. SFR, are you %@#&$*+ kidding me. I’m living in the 50’s. I like using the spoon strainer to switch channels, we moved up to vise grips a little later. I loved listening to Notre Dame games on radio ( Lindsey Nelson). Black & White tv the only way to go. My ? is taller than your☘️☘️☘️

      2. I lowered my monthly cable bill with comcast. I got tired of paying crap and reruns of HBO. I lost ESPN and ESPN2. Notre Dame is on NBC and most major games are on NBC, ABC, CBS and FOX during the season. But like Greg says I’ll have to find other means to watch the semi finals on the 29th. I’ll look into what poster MrP suggest or gather at one of my brothers houses up north. I like author Mike’s prediction —- Alabama #1 , Clemson #2 , Irish #3 , Oklahoma #4. Go Irish.

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