Who deserves the honor of being the No. 4 team in the College Football Playoff, Notre Dame or Texas A&M?
We know who the top three will be in the final College Football Playoff rankings.
Alabama will be No. 1, Clemson and Ohio State will almost certainly be 2 and 3 – in that order – and No. 4 will be …
And that’s the drama.
Notre Dame and Texas A&M are the two most likely options for the No. 4 spot, and both were saved by Florida not being able to get by Alabama in the SEC Championship – that would’ve at least made things interesting. It also helped the overall cause that USC lost the Pac-12 Championship and Cincinnati was meh in the American Athletic Conference Championship.
So with all that in mind, let’s have the two contenders argue it out. It’s 2020, so, of course, it’s being done over a Zoom call …
Notre Dame: There’s no debate. We beat Clemson. We won ten games. We had a rough day against the Tigers when they were operating at peak efficiency, and we should be in with our better schedule. We have the good wins. You don’t.
Texas A&M: Dude, you got trucked 34-10, and it wasn’t even that close. You think America has the slightest interest in seeing you play Alabama?
Notre Dame: You think America has the slightest interest in seeing you play Alabama again? You did that already. It was awful.
Texas A&M: Yeah, way back in Week 2 for us on October 3rd. We needed a bit to get warmed up, and we did get the passing game moving for 335 yards, and …
Notre Dame: You lost 52-24. Wait, that whole needing to get warmed up thing. Are we supposed to excuse you for beating Vanderbilt 17-12 in the opener?
Texas A&M: Notre Dame 27, Duke 13. That was your opener. Oh yeah, and that 12-7 win over Louisville was a classic. Now can we move on? We’re a different, stronger, better team now. We’re in a groove on a six-game winning streak, we’ve won our last five games by double-digits after beating Florida, and …
Notre Dame: And … what? You beat what? That 20-7 win over LSU made the world a lesser place, and you beat Auburn. Whooop-dee-doo. Again, we beat Clemson …
Texas A&M: Yeah, without Trevor Lawrence.
Notre Dame: But DJ Uiagalelei is going to be every bit as good, and …
Texas A&M: You got blown up by a true freshman quarterback for over 400 yards, and you think you’re going to do anything against the Alabama passing game?
Notre Dame: If you’d let me finish – when Clemson is No. 2 in the final rankings, we’ll officially have the best win of the 2020 college football season. You don’t have one of those, do you Tex?
Texas A&M: No, we’re just the second-best team in the best conference in college football, and our one loss was to the be-all-end-all No. 1 team on the road. We should be considered No. 2 in the rankings and we’re arguing about 4?
(popping up on the call) Cincinnati: Hey guys, what’s happening?
Notre Dame: How’d you get on this call?
Cincinnati: We heard you were talking about who should be No. 4, and we went 9-0 with an American Athletic Conference Championship, and …
Texas A&M: I’m sorry, you cut out. A what, championship?
Cincinnati: American Athle…
Texas A&M: And you played who in this championship … Alabama? Oklahoma? Ohio State …
Notre Dame: Oh Tulsa … super, super … so you, of course, with everything on the line and style points meaning the world for a team that didn’t play a Power Five team, you won by what, 50, 60?
Cincinnati: 27-24 on an exciting walk-off field goal with no time left, and …
(Cincinnati feed gets cut off and goes dead)
Texas A&M: (silent)
Notre Dame: (silent)
Texas A&M: Where were we?
Notre Dame: Look, you’re really good, and we were off against Clemson in the ACC title game, but we’ve got the lines that can hold up, we’ve got the experience, and we can slow things down just like you do. There were some lightweight wins along the way, but we won four road games in a five-game stretch, ending with a win over North Carolina. Beating Auburn is nice, but that road win over the Tar Heels will get us the nod.
Texas A&M: Yeah, you’ve got the style we like – game recognizes game when it comes to time of possession, tempo, and great line play – but we held the ball for over 44 minutes against Tennessee, our scores are generally not blowouts partly because of our design, and again, the SEC factor has to play SOME sort of a role here.
Notre Dame: Yeah, but 8-1 isn’t 10-1, and again, we’ve got the great win that you don’t …
Texas A&M: Wasn’t Clemson really hurt defensively, and again, no Lawrence?
Notre Dame: Yeah, but …
Texas A&M: And I know this isn’t supposed to matter, but it’s not like you’ve exactly distinguished yourself against the biggest of the big boys over the years in the bowl season. We’ve seen what you can do, and it’s nice, but there’s a hard-ceiling you obviously can’t crack. We’re getting rolling here under a national championship head coach. Watch what we’re about to do as we’re on the verge of something special.
“We play in the best league in ball. We got beat by the No. 1 team in the country, who also had another superstar on the team named (Jaylen) Waddle. If we can’t play in (the SEC) and be in the playoff, something’s wrong.”
— Jimbo to Quint Kessnich postgame on why A&M deserves CFP
— Marty Smith (@MartySmithESPN) December 19, 2020
Notre Dame: We’re better than you think. We actually might have the style and the potential to give Alabama a problem. Again, we had a bad day in Charlotte, but our lines really are that good, our run defense is much better than it looked this time around against the Tigers, and we have a feeling that we can possibly smash the Tide in the mouth a little bit better than even you. Also, we …
Cincinnati (wearing a fake mustache and sunglasses, speaking in a lowered voice): Oh, how am I on HERE? I must have pressed the wrong button. Hey, what’s this I hear about this great Group of Five program that …
Texas A&M: Hey, Irish, good luck in the Orange Bowl … you’re going to need against one of the better SEC teams.
Notre Dame: Good luck against Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl … they’ve got it figured out now.
So what’s really going to happen?
The committee is almost certainly going to put Notre Dame in at the 4.
Cincinnati just doesn’t have the schedule or the big wins. Had it crushed Tulsa by 30, there would’ve been a strong argument to finally give the Group of Five a shot since Texas A&M and Notre Dame have already lost huge to two of the playoff teams. But no – that’s not happening.
There will also be at least a discussion about Ohio State. 6-0 is nice, and the Buckeyes were missing players, but they only faced two okay teams this year and struggled to survive against both. Let’s not waste time with this, though.
The College Football Playoff committee had a thing for the Buckeyes from the start, and it’s certainly not going to crack now – no chance the unbeaten Big Ten champion isn’t in this thing.
It’s not fair to Texas A&M, considering that if this was a normal year with a normal schedule, most of the teams on its slate would’ve been at least .500 or better thanks to several non-conference wins, but that’s the deal.
Notre Dame has more wins. It’s top win over Clemson is better than A&M’s top win over Florida, and the second-best win over North Carolina is stronger – at least by the CFP rankings – than A&M’s second-best win over Auburn.
The two ugly losses will cancel each other out.
There’s no real right or wrong answer here – neither one really has to be in the tournament, but they each can make a case over Ohio State. One team has to be left out.
Let it be fuel to a rising Texas A&M program that’s on the verge of being a powerhouse that should be in contention for the College Football Playoff on a regular basis.
Expect it to be Notre Dame vs. Alabama in the Sugar, and Clemson vs. Ohio State in whatever the hell they’re going to call that thing in AT&T Stadium.