Talking Playoffs

Notre Dame did not play on Saturday, but the playoff picture for the Fighting Irish got brighter anyway. As it stands now, the teams currently projected to participate in this year’s final four put even more distance between themselves and their pursuers.

For obvious reasons, win-loss records are secondary this season to each team’s body of work. The shortened season and the absence of interconference games has not helped teams from certain Power-5 conferences make a convincing case for consideration.


Take the Big-10, for instance. Please. The playoff selection committee has given Ohio State lots of love, but the Buckeyes will not have played anyone except a good but not particularly powerful Indiana team. They held off the Hoosiers by a touchdown at home, and waltzed past a few other mediocrities.

Ohio State’s statement game will have to be the conference championship matchup next week against…wait for it…Northwestern. The Wildcats are not exactly a powerhouse, so the Buckeyes will have proved exactly nothing when they beat them.

The PAC-12 is even worse. USC has entertained us with last minute heroics to edge rival UCLA and the two Arizona schools. In other words, they haven’t beaten anyone with a pulse. The quality of football played in the West this season reminds me of a sandlot seven-on-seven league. The Trojans can capture the conference flag next week by beating a mediocre, unranked Washington squad. Troy does not deserve serious consideration, but they’ll get some because there is no one else left to hype.

A pair of two-loss teams will face each other in the Big-12 championship. Oklahoma and Iowa State will square off in a meaningless contest that will take place only because ESPN is paying the schools to play it.

Alabama is a clear number one team, but even the SEC is having a hard time making a case for a second playoff participant. Florida went down again last night and will earn a third loss next week when the Tide roll over them. Texas A&M will plead its case, but the Aggies lost by 28 to Bama and will end the season with a snoozer against lowly Tennessee.

No one on the Committee is taking Cincinnati seriously, so I won’t, either.

That leaves Alabama, Notre Dame, and Clemson at the top. The rematch between the Irish and the Tigers will be another competitive slugfest, but these teams have clearly separated themselves from the other playoff hopefuls. Miami had been screaming about its omission from the ACC Championship Game, but they were exposed and humiliated by North Carolina this afternoon.

With all that said, only a few questions remain. If Notre Dame beats Clemson again, should the Tigers be displaced by Texas A&M as the fourth seed? Does anyone want to see Alabama pummel the Aggies again? Not me.

If the full-strength Tigers beat Notre Dame, should the Irish victory on November 7 be discounted and the team dropped from the top four? If you watched that game, or any Irish outing this season, you would know that is a ridiculous position. Besides, who among the cast of pretenders has a better body of work? The answer is clearly “No one”.

The only uncertainty remaining is the quality of Ohio State’s resume. By ranking them fourth, the Committee has made it clear they will get a slot over the Aggies and anyone else. The Notre Dame-Clemson game will simply determine the final rankings and the semifinal matchups. The Committee will hear whining from Aggie, Trojan, and even Cincinnati fans, but its just white noise. Besides, the ND-Clemson loser will have to play Alabama next. No one else really wants that.

Okay, I know what you’re thinking. Florida could beat Alabama next week. Northwestern could take down Ohio State. Notre Dame or Clemson could win convincingly and damage the other team’s chances. Just don’t put money on it. Each of these scenarios is highly unlikely.

8 thoughts on “Talking Playoffs

  1. I just hope you are correct…..At this point, it just looks that the Irish just need to win or keep it close to reach the playoffs.

    Based on how we have been playing for most of this season, we should do so…My one fear is that if we get behind, we start forcing things…..which turn into turnovers and the game could get out of control…other than that….. I am hoping for a highly competitive game that is doubt until the final whistle…obviously with the Irish coming out on top…Go Irish!!!

  2. The Big Ten and Pac 12 shouldn’t been considered by the committee. They haven’t played enough games. I don’t want to hear about the eye test and who has the most talent. If that’s the case why play the games? Notre Dame winning is critical because I don’t think the committee wants a semi final rematch. If I’m correct I think an ND win means:
    Bama vs Ohio St (BS but it’s happening)
    ND vs A&M

    • Vannie and crew,
      Knocking Clemson out of CFP contention would be a worthy achievement
      in itself!
      Honestly Alabama really does look like a powerhouse this year.
      And what of poor Coastal (Life isn’t Fair) Carolina?

  3. Irish in the South says:

    Odds changed from 7 points opening to 10.5 recently. As they say “the smart money is going on Clemson”. Again, ND not getting respect. But with this team, it seems that being the underdog will inspire, not detract.

  4. If ND and Alabama both win this weekend, the 4 team playoff format should be cancelled for this year and it should just move to an automatic Alabama vs Notre Dame championship. Given the Covid situation this would make safe and sensible logic.

  5. The Irish face a tougher Clemson team than first time around. Tigers D has recovered from injuries, and Trevor won’t miss wide open receivers as DJ did 2x last time they played.

    ND d line has to play great, Gotta pressure Lawrence early and often. Would be a real plus for o to sustain drives and eat clock, as BK often says play well in all 3 phases of the game. It will take a total team effort and players focus on this game!!
    GO IRISH!!!

  6. Think about this……Clemson has two losses in the last 3 seasons….the NC game to LSU last year and their loss at ND this year…..Trevor Lawrence has 1 career loss (LSU champ game). ND has 3 losses in the last 3 seasons. The NC semi-final vs Clemson and the losses @GA and @MI last year. These are two of the best 4 (including AL and OSU) programs of the last three years. So think how amazing it would be if ND beats the mighty Clemson two times in a season and knocks this team out of the playoffs this year. I think they have more than a punchers chance. We got Kraemer back on the OL and have two good options for C this week. We are still the healthier team as Clemson just lost Venables who was ably backing up the injured Skalski. Skalski is still not 100% and struggled and played limited snaps in their last game against VT. We still have the better lines (and it wasn’t close). The biggest add is Trevor and he is a stud, but old #5 played incredible and its hard to say Lawrence would have done better, as a matter of fact Lawrence has looked a little off rhythm since his return. We shut down the QB run game last time, and while they like to do some design runs for Lawrence he is not really a scary runner. I think both teams are too good and well coached for this to be anything but another close well fought game. Clemson is a great team again this year but I think we match up with them incredibly well, we beat them again and two of their three losses in 3 years will be to us….go IRISH!!!