Last week I wrote about Notre Dame’s chances of winning out and ended the piece by mentioning that the Irish would need some help to reach the College Football Playoff. Most analysts agree there is a group of six teams right now that are far ahead of the rest in the race for the playoff, and for the sake of this exercise will we assume that Wisconsin and Florida aren’t in that mix. Below are the marquee games that involve these teams where Notre Dame can get the help they need.
Clemson: ACC Championship
- Though Clemson almost lost to UNC, their remaining schedule is so easy it’s hard to imagine them not running the table. The best chance of a slip up would likely be in the ACC championship in Charlotte, but seeing as Wake Forest and Virginia are the two teams they are most likely to face, it shouldn’t be that tough of a test.
Alabama: Nov 9 vs LSU, Nov 30 @ Aub, SEC Championship
Georgia: Nov 2 @ Florida, Nov 16 @ Auburn, SEC Championship
LSU: Oct 12 vs Florida, Oct 26 vs Auburn, Nov 9 @ Alabama, SEC Championship
- Though Notre Dame’s loss @ Georgia looks better with more Georgia success, it’s difficult to imagine that the CFP would put ND in over Alabama if Alabama’s only loss was in the SEC championship against Georgia. Therefore it seems that the best scenario for Notre Dame is that Alabama finishes undefeated and Georgia has two losses while LSU fails to make the SEC championship. Only one SEC team being in the CFP is crucial to opening up a spot for Notre Dame.
Ohio State: Oct 26 vs Wisconsin, Nov 23 vs Penn State, Nov 30 @ Michigan, Big 10 Championship
- Ohio State having a slip-up like last season against Purdue would be extremely helpful for Notre Dame. With how good the Buckeyes have looked, it’s tough to imagine they lose any of these games, but one can only hope.
Oklahoma: Oct 12 vs Texas, Nov 30 @ Oklahoma State, Big 12 Championship
- Every Notre Dame fan should be rooting hard for Texas this Saturday as it would be very advantageous for the Irish if the Sooners lost. After that, there are really only two remaining difficult tests for Oklahoma.
In summary, if we consider Clemson and the SEC Champion to be a lock to make the playoff, then Notre Dame needs to be ahead of two of the following three: #2 SEC team, Big 10 Champion, and Big 12 Champion. The odds aren’t great of that happening, but there is still some hope left.