Notre Dame suffered a win and a loss on Saturday.
The Fighting Irish survived a scare from rival, USC, in their 30-27 victory. Notre Dame could never put away their pesky opponent but showed some grittiness with a 14-play, 75-yard drive that took 6:54 off the clock. That led to what proved to be the game winning touchdown. USC would score late but the Irish recovered an onside kick to seal it.
So with a win over their rival, where did the Irish lose? They lost when Georgia inexplicably lost at home in double overtime to South Carolina. The Dawgs handed the Irish their only loss of the season so, in theory, they needed to see Georgia win out. Where this becomes any stickier is the fact that Georgia plays in the SEC.
The College Football Playoff Committee has shown that the SEC is the conference they love to give a mulligan to. Georgia’s one loss doesn’t eliminate them but it puts Notre Dame into a precarious situation.
LSU and Alabama are the best teams in the SEC West. Yes, they play each other but we’ve seen this with the SEC. The loser of Alabama-LSU isn’t necessarily eliminated from the College Football Playoffs. That means if Oklahoma and Ohio State run the table, the four teams in the playoffs would be Alabama, LSU, Ohio State, and Oklahoma.
Even if Alabama or LSU ends the season with two losses, Notre Dame would need Georgia to lose again. It’s not impossible but unless Georgia has an extended hangover, it’s highly unlikely.
As for Notre Dame taking care of their own business. They’ll need to win out which would include needing a win at Michigan. The Wolverines got off to a slow start but has shown improvement throughout the season. Sure, they were close against Army and got whitewashed at Wisconsin but they aren’t a team to take likely. Even though there isn’t an official time slated for the game, one can assume that it will be a night kickoff at the Big House.
Notre Dame also travels to Stanford at the end of the season. The Cardinal have picked it up the last two weeks with Pac 12 wins at Oregon State and against 15th ranked Washington. Head coach, David Shaw, seems to have Stanford back on the right track.
Irish fans should take solace in the fact that teams near the top in the College Football Playoffs have lost games late in the season. That could keep the door ajar for Notre Dame to go to back to back College Football Playoffs.