After all of the speculation over the last few hours, Notre Dame is officially in the 2018 College Football Playoffs for the first time in program history! The undefeated Fighting Irish navigated the regular season 12-0 and just moments ago we found out that the Selection Committee ranked the Irish 3rd in their final rankings. Notre Dame will no face the Clemson Tigers in the semi-final.
The final top 4 rankings released just now look like this:
- Notre Dame
There has been a lot of conjecture over what the final rankings should have been thanks for Georgia’s narrow loss last night to Alabama in the SEC Championship. Some experts, such as Kirk Herbstreit suggested that Georgia should not only have made the playoffs but should have been ranked ahead of Notre Dame in the final rankings despite the Bulldogs losing their two toughest games of the season.
In the end, the committee decided that wins and loss and not just the “eye test” mattered at the end of the day.
Notre Dame opened at 4th in the first College Football Playoff rankings, but quickly moved to 3rd the following week and have been in 3rd place since then and finished in 3rd place heading into the official pairings.
By finishing in 3rd place, Notre Dame will face undefeated Clemson in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas with top ranked Alabama squaring off against Big 12 Champion Oklahoma in Miami. The Irish and Tigers last faced off in 2015 when Notre Dame lost a thriller in Death Valley after Deshone Kizer was stuffed by Clemson on a two point conversion attempt that would have tied the game in the final minute.
Clemson finished the season 13-0 after their 42-10 win over Pitt last night the ACC Championship game.
This is the first trip to the College Football playoffs for Notre Dame after the Irish had been in the discussion at different points of three of the four previous Novembers in some capacity. In other seasons though, Notre Dame had at least one blemish on their resumes. This time the Irish eliminated all doubt from the equation by winning all 12 of the their games – all of which came against FBS foes – including 10 versus Power 5 opponents and 3 against top 25 opponents from last week’s CFP Top 25.
Even after the rankings were released, Herbstreit continued to beat the drum for Georgia with two losses because his eyeballs tell him that they are one of the four best teams in the country. Not many on the ESPN panel wanted to give the Irish much credit and instead talked about the Irish being unable to beat Georgia, Ohio State, or Oklahoma and making a ridiculous comparison to Notre Dame being like a team from the 80’s or 90’s and being unable to handle any of the other CFP rankings.
David Pollack was the lone ESPN panelist who gave the Irish credit by saying that Notre Dame doesn’t have a glaring weakness unlike Oklahoma or Ohio State. Pollack gave the Irish credit for being solid in every department.
Regardless of what any of the World Wide Leader’s talking heads are spouting now though, it doesn’t matter. Notre Dame is in the 2018 College Football Playoffs and the selection committee made a statement that wins and losses matter and not the “eye test” of the college football media who spend all season creating narratives that they then want to justify at the end of the day.