In the first three weeks into the season, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish have been eliminated from the College Football Playoff picture after a 36-28 loss to the Michigan State Spartans.
The Fighting Irish lost to the Texas Longhorns 50-47 in double overtime to start the season. They were still in contention for the CFB Playoff with that loss. Now, their national title aspirations have vanished with the Michigan State loss.
In the two year’s of the CFB playoff, the selection committee has never picked a two-loss team as one of the final four teams. At most, a playoff finalist can only have one loss.
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For example, Notre Dame finished the 2015 regular season with a 10-2 record, and they were left out of the playoff last year. In fact, they were not even the best team left out.
The committee ranked Iowa (12-1), Stanford (11-2) and Ohio State (11-1) higher than Notre Dame in their final poll.
Technically, the playoff committee says no team is eliminated until the end of the regular season. However, Notre Dame’s fate is set in stone.
The Finghtin Irish would need this doomsday scenario to occur to even be reconsidered for the CFB Playoff:
- The Fighting Irish need to finish the season with a 10-2 record overall.
- Multiple Power 5 Conferences Champions (PAC-12, Big XII, etc.) finish with AT LEAST THREE LOSSES.
Both of these outcomes are probably not going to happen. Notre Dame still has a tough schedule so one or two more losses are very likely.
Meanwhile, a three-loss conference champion is rare, and at least two conference champions with three losses in the same year is even rarer.
For this reason, Notre Dame is essentially eliminated from the CFB Playoff. They will be playing for a good bowl game for the rest of the season.
There are plenty of solid bowl games Notre Dame can play for. Specifically, the program can still earn a berth into a “New Year’s Six” bowl game.
The Fiesta Bowl and the Peach Bowl are designated as the CFB Playoff Semifinal games this season. However, a berth into the other four “New Year’s Six” games is still attainable.
The Fighting Irish need to be unbeaten for the rest of the year to make a “New Year’s Six” game. Unfortunately for Notre Dame, their remaining schedule will still be a tough one to navigate through unscathed.
Notre Dame still has their annual rivalries with the Stanford Cardinal and the USC Trojans left on the 2016 slate. Also, Navy, Virginia Tech and Miami are quality football programs that could challenge the Fighting Irish.
Obviously, a 1-2 start to the season is not what Notre Dame fans were expecting. Head coach Brian Kelly has a lot of work to do with this team if he wants to salvage any positives from this season.