Who’s In? The Irish jumped a spot to #4 in this week’s College Football Playoff committee poll. Although the Irish won 42-30, the 12-point victory was a dominant one for Notre Dame who held a 25-point fourth quarter lead before surrendering a TD pass thanks to blown coverage and also gave up a fumble return for a touchdown off of a Brandon Wimbush fumble. The Irish have impressed the playoff committee and are currently in position to secure one of the precious four playoff spots should they continue to win and continue to get some help from around the nation.
Review of last week’s top 15:
#1 Clemson over Florida State 23-13
#2 LSU falls to #4 Alabama 30-16
#3 Ohio State beats Minnesota 28-15
#6 Baylor survives Kansas State 31-24
#7 Michigan State stunned by Nebraska 39-38
#8 TCU blown out by #14 Oklahoma State 49-29
#9 Iowa over Indiana 35-27
#10 Florida sneaks by Vanderbilt 9-7
#11 Stanford impresses over Colorado 42-10
#12 Utah over Washington 34-23
#13 Memphis dominated by Navy 45-20
#15 Oklahoma smokes Iowa State 52-16
Review of last week’s other ND opponents:
- Texas vs. Kansas, W 59-20
- Virginia @ Miami, L 27-21
- Georgia Tech, Off
- Massachusetts vs. Akron, L 17-13
- USC vs. Arizona, W 38-30
- Temple @ SMU, W 60-40
- Wake Forest, Off
- Boston College vs. NC State, L 24-8
In last week’s article, we discussed the round robin chaos that was about to start in the Big 12 and Oklahoma State didn’t disappoint with their beat down of TCU. We also predicted a potential “Shakeup Saturday” last weekend with a slew of upsets, but we really only got one of the ones we asked for when Nebraska beat Michigan State. But it was still a decent “Shakeup Saturday” with losses by TCU and Memphis.
The Big Picture – A Look at the Power 5 Conferences
ACC – Clemson controls its destiny. It’s hard to imagine they don’t win out.
Big 12 – The chaos has begun. Starting last weekend and continuing through Thanksgiving weekend, TCU, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Baylor will all play each other. One game is down and TCU now has one loss and has fallen from the unbeaten. If Oklahoma State or Baylor finishes the season unbeaten, I think they will bypass Notre Dame if the current top three remains the same. If one-loss Oklahoma wins out, I think they will also jump the Irish if the current top three remains the same. There are two major reasons for this:
- Oklahoma would have beaten three top 15 teams (including two top 10 teams) in consecutive weeks, which is rated as the #1 remaining strength of schedule.
- Oklahoma would be a conference champion.
I agree there’s an opportunity they don’t jump the Irish. But I think their resume over the final month would be impressive enough and the committee has shown the ability to reset their rankings every week. If you just look at Texas being a bad loss for the Sooners, the committee is very willing to let those go (e.g. Ohio State vs. Virginia tech and Stanford vs. Northwestern).
Big Ten – Last weekend, Nebraska kicked off the case to shut out the Big Ten from the playoffs, but more things still need to happen. Let me explain. Before last weekend, it looked like the winner of Michigan State vs. Ohio State would be an undefeated Big Ten champ. But now that the Spartans have lost, if they (or Michigan) can beat Ohio State and then go onto beat Iowa, the Big Ten champ will have one (or more) losses.
Pac-12 – We know for Notre Dame to get into the playoffs, the Pac-12 will be shut out. Stanford and Utah currently control their own destiny. Stanford needs to win every remaining game (except for Nov. 28) to support ND’s case. If they lose at all, then so does ND.
SEC – Alabama controls their own destiny, but any loss puts control back into the hands of the Ole Miss (currently 2 losses) vs. LSU (currently 1 loss) winner who would face Florida (currently 1 loss) in the SEC Championship. I think only Alabama has a shot to be the SEC representative in the playoffs. So if they lose, the SEC is out.
This week’s games
Saturday, November 7
- #1 Clemson @ Syracuse – Clemson’s next test will likely come in the ACC Championship game. Can’t see them being challenged until then. Cheer for Clemson.
- #2 Alabama @ #17 Mississippi State – The Crimson Tide is starting to look scary. They might be the one team in the country right now that you don’t want to play. This week, Mississippi State gets their turn at the Tide. This is a home game for the Bulldogs and former Heisman candidate and dynamic duel-threat quarterback Dak Prescott lead them. Cheer for Mississippi State.
- #3 Ohio State @ Illinois – Expecting the Buckeyes to roll here, as they get JT Barrett back from the one game suspension. Cheer for Illinois.
- Minnesota @ #5 Iowa – In back-to-back weeks, Minnesota has played Michigan and Ohio State very tough. In fact, Minnesota probably should have won the Michigan game. The Gophers could do everyone a big favor and beat Iowa this weekend. Cheer for Minnesota.
- #12 Oklahoma vs. #6 Baylor – Baylor should be on “upset” alert. Although I’m not sure it would be a big upset. Having watched multiple games from both teams this year, I think Oklahoma is the better complete team. Cheer for Oklahoma.
- Oregon @ #7 Stanford – This game should scare all Irish fans. Yes, Oregon is having a down year, but they are still scoring 42 points a game. They haven’t gotten a ton of help on defense this year, but if for any reason Stanford’s offense has an off day, an Oregon upset would be devastating to Notre Dame’s playoff hopes. Cheer for Stanford.
- #8 Oklahoma State @ Iowa State – On this weekend in 2011, undefeated and #2 ranked Oklahoma State played unranked Iowa State. The Cyclones won 37-31 in 2 OTs. Iowa State has played a brutal schedule this year, but they have been competitive for the most part and have been able to score points. This is a quintessential trap game. Cheer for Iowa State.
- Arkansas @ #9 LSU – Even after being dominated last weekend against Alabama, the Tigers are still alive in the SEC west. They would need Alabama to lose again, and then LSU would need to beat Ole Miss. Look for LSU to bounce back in this game. Cheer for LSU.
- #10 Utah @ Arizona – Utah is still alive in the Pac-12 South and could play for the Pac-12 Championship. If Utah were to trip up once more, it puts USC in a position to control its own destiny in the South. Cheer for Arizona.
- #11 Florida @ South Carolina – Florida had an ugly win last week against Vanderbilt, kicking a go-ahead field goal in the final two and a half minutes, then survived Vandy’s attempt to drive the field. Florida has looked decent this season (vs. Ole Miss, Missouri & Georgia) and looked shaky (vs. ECU, Kentucky, Vanderbilt). They have one loss to LSU, but have secured the SEC East and will play in the SEC Championship game. A loss before that game would be helpful (either to South Carolina or Florida State); then the Gators can go on and win the SEC title and then the SEC is possibly eliminated from the playoffs. Cheer for South Carolina.
- Maryland @ #13 Michigan State – Expecting a rebound from the Spartans this week after the controversial upset last week at Nebraska. Should be a tune-up before next week’s battle against Ohio State. Cheer for Maryland.
- Kansas @ #15 TCU – As we predicted, the chaos has officially begun in the Big 12, as TCU was blown out last week by Oklahoma State, turning the ball over four times. This was a key development to ND’s playoff hopes. In this game, TCU rebounds and might score 70 over the Jayhawks. Cheer for Kansas.
Other Teams We’re Cheering For
Thursday, November 12
- Virginia Tech @ Georgia Tech
Friday, November 13
- USC @ Colorado
Saturday, November 14
- Pittsburgh @ Duke
- Texas @ West Virginia
- Virginia @ Louisville
- Massachusetts @ Eastern Michigan
- Miami (FL) @ #23 North Carolina
- #14 Michigan @ Indiana
- SMU @ #20 Navy
- #22 Temple @ South Florida
- #21 Memphis @ #24 Houston
Remaining Schedules for All Playoff Contenders
|CFP||Team||Week 11||Week 12||Week 13||Week 14|
|1||Clemson||@ Syracuse||Wake Forest||@ South Carolina||ACC Champ.|
|2||Alabama||@ Miss St.||Charleston S.||@ Auburn||SEC Champ.|
|3||Ohio State||@ Illinois||Michigan St.||@ Michigan||Big 10 Champ.|
|4||Notre Dame||Wake Forest||@ Boston College||@ Stanford||Off|
|5||Iowa||Minnesota||Purdue||@ Nebraska||Big 10 Champ.|
|6||Baylor||Oklahoma||@ Oklahoma St.||@ TCU||Texas|
|7||Stanford||Oregon||Cal||Notre Dame||Pac 12 Champ.|
|8||Oklahoma St.||@ Iowa State||Baylor||Oklahoma||Off|
|9||LSU||Arkansas||@ Ole Miss||Texas A&M||SEC Champ.|
|10||Utah||@ Arizona||UCLA||Colorado||Pac 12 Champ.|
|11||Florida||@ South Carolina||Florida Atlantic||Florida State||SEC Champ.|
|12||Oklahoma||@ Baylor||TCU||@ Oklahoma St.||Off|
|13||Michigan St.||Maryland||@ Ohio State||Penn State||Big 10 Champ.|
|14||Michigan||@ Indiana||@ Penn State||vs. Ohio State||Big 10 Champ.|