BOSTON — There’s something wrong with the system if Notre Dame remains in the top four of the College Football Playoff rankings when the new list is unveiled Tuesday.
The No. 4-ranked Fighting Irish barely survived for a 19-16 win over a 3-7 Boston College team at Fenway Park on Saturday night.
They failed to earn style points or make any sort of statement on a day that Ohio State — No. 3 in the playoff rankings entering the week — and Oklahoma State — No. 6 in the AP Poll and undefeated entering Saturday — both lost.
“The (playoff) committee is out of my hands, it’s out of our players’ hands. All we want to do is play ourselves into a position to be considered,” Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said. “We feel like we need to win another game to still be considered.
“We’re one of the top four teams after last week, we’ll see where we stand this week. We just got to keep winning games. We got another game against a nationally ranked team, which will give us an opportunity. Our guys know what has been in front of them when they lost to Clemson earlier in the year. You got to win all your games. We got one more. We got to win it.”
Notre Dame committed five turnovers — including three in the red zone — but still won because Boston College, despite having a great defense, has struggled mightily on offense all season and couldn’t consistently move the ball until the end of the fourth quarter. They had just 24 yards of offense at halftime.
The fact of the matter is Notre Dame’s resume isn’t worthy of a playoff spot entering the final week of the regular season.
Sure, the Fighting Irish’s only loss is to Clemson, the No. 1 team in the AP Poll and playoff ranking. But what is Notre Dame’s signature win?
Entering this week, only three teams the Irish have played this season were ranked, and one of them, No. 24 USC, was soundly beaten by Oregon. I’m sorry, but USC, Temple and Navy are not quality wins.
Clemson, Alabama, Oklahoma, Iowa, Michigan State and even Ohio State all deserve a playoff berth more than Notre Dame right now.
Oklahoma has quality wins over Baylor and TCU, as well an out-of-conference victory over an SEC team in Tennessee. If the Sooners beat a very good Oklahoma State team next week and finish 11-1, there’s no way they should be slotted below Notre Dame in the final playoff rankings.
Don’t forget about Baylor, which handed Oklahoma State its first lost Saturday. The Bears would have a strong case to leapfrog Notre Dame in the playoff rankings if they beat TCU and Texas to finish 11-1.
Iowa is undefeated at 11-0 and will play a highly ranked opponent in Ohio State, Michigan or Michigan State for the Big 10 championship. Defending champion Ohio State’s only loss is to a top-10 Michigan State team, and the Spartans, who also have only one loss, defeated No. 12 Michigan and No. 3 Ohio State on the road.
The Big 10 champion, whether it’s the Buckeyes, Hawkeyes or Spartans, would deserve a playoff spot over Notre Dame for having more quality wins. The only semi-debate here would be Iowa, whose schedule has been incredibly soft, but it would really tough to deny an undefeated Big 10 champion from the playoff.
Notre Dame is a quality team, no doubt about it. That said, when the best part of your resume is a loss to a really good opponent, that’s not playoff-caliber.
The Fighting Irish need to crush No. 11 Stanford next week to solidify a playoff spot, but given their performance the last two games, the chances of that happening are slim.
Thumbnail photo via Matt Cashore/USA TODAY Sports Images