Can Notre Dame Make the Playoffs?
The path to the College Football Playoffs is actually fairly straight-forward for the Fighting Irish
Let me first say that I don't think Notre Dame is one of the 4 best college football teams in the country. But based on the current College Football Playoff rankings - they do have a pretty clear path to the playoffs. Hear me out.
Currently the Fighting Irish are ranked 8th by the committee. Ahead of them is Alabama ranked 2nd but the Crimson Tide will most likely play Georgia in the SEC Championship. If Alabama has 2 losses - what justification would there be for putting them ahead of a 1 loss Notre Dame? Past accomplishments? Reputation? Notre Dame's one loss would be to Cincinnati which would also be in the top 4 while the Crimson Tide lost to Texas A&M which lost to Arkansas, Miss State and Ole Miss!
That said - I would place the Crimson Tide as 14-point favorites against the Fighting Irish on a neutral field. But the record is what the record is. Notre Dame’s one loss would be better than Alabama’s two.
The Oregon Ducks are currently ranked 3rd but they play Utah this weekend and are a 3-point underdog. A two loss Oregon also drops below Notre Dame in the rankings.
Michigan ranked 6th finishes the season playing Ohio State where the Wolverines will probably be a 7 to 10-point underdog. A two loss Michigan will not be ranked above Notre Dame (even though heads up on a neutral field Michigan would probably be favored by 10 over the Golden Domers).
Michigan State ranked 7th still has to play both Ohio State and Penn State. They don't win both of those games. Also keep in mind the Spartans lost to Purdue which fell to the Irish 27-13.
It's also possible that Ohio State slips up. That opens the way for both Notre Dame and a 2-loss Alabama. The clear path exists. It's fascinating. The way a car wreck is fascinating.
Nothing would make a 12-team playoff an immediate reality faster than Notre Dame making the playoffs again this year.
So let it be written - so let it be done.