Path To The 2018 College Football Playoff: Notre Dame Fighting Irish
What is Notre Dame’s path to the 2018 College Football Playoff? What are the different ways the Fighting Irish can get in?
Path To The Playoff: Notre Dame
What’s The Easiest Path?
It’s hardly going to be an easy path considering the schedule that’s ahead, but if the Irish can get through it, it might be in no matter what happens to Georgia.
Of course, if the Bulldogs go 13-0 and finish as the CFP No. 1 and SEC Champion, it would be a big help – in theory, if Georgia is No. 1, the Notre Dame might be No. 2 if the lone loss is to the Bulldogs – but it might not be necessary.
If the Irish win out, that means they’ll beat Wake Forest, win at Miami, and beat Navy and win at Stanford. It wouldn’t hurt if the Hurricanes and Cardinal are players in their respective conference championships, but it’s not necessary.
Add the finishing kick along with blowout wins over USC, NC State, Michigan State and Boston College, and Notre Dame would have a peerless resume.
But, What Happens If …
Much of the Notre Dame street cred at the moment comes from being the one team that could hang with a Georgia team that’s destroying everything in its path.
If the Bulldogs lose at Auburn, and/or at Georgia Tech, and/or to South Carolina, and then against Alabama – or to LSU or Auburn – in the SEC Championship, the one Irish home loss wouldn’t look quite so okay.
The Realistic Worst Case Scenario
Notre Dame loses once more.
Just like 2015 – when Notre Dame probably would’ve been in if it had beaten Stanford in the regular season finale – there can’t be another loss. 10-2 means a New Year’s Six bowl, but not the College Football Playoff.
The other bad scenario would be if there’s too much traffic ahead of a one-loss Irish team.
If Alabama and Georgia are both 12-0 going into the SEC Championship, they’re both probably in. Almost certainly, a 12-1 Big Ten champion Ohio State would be in over the Irish, as would a 13-0 B1G champion Wisconsin.
That would be three teams, and then things get really sticky if Washington goes 12-1 with a Pac-12 title and/or Oklahoma, Oklahoma State or TCU – particularly Oklahoma, considering its win at Ohio State – wins the Big 12 championship going 12-1.
Okay, What’s Going To Happen
The Irish will either be tripped up at Miami or at Stanford and end up in the New Year’s Six, or there will be too much traffic from the Power Five conference champions to get in.
Be prepared, Irish fans, for a 2014 TCU scenario. Notre Dame could be ranked in the top three all the way to the end, and then things will flip with four one-loss or unbeaten Power Five conference champions.
The best guess? Notre Dame will come close, but will just miss, ending up playing TCU or Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl.