Can Notre Dame football keep its spot in the Top 5?

Despite having no action on the field this weekend, Notre Dame football has something to celebrate today. The AP Top 25 poll was just released for the upcoming week, and the Irish found themselves higher on the poll, receiving the fifth spot. Previously, the Irish were placed seventh after an impressive shutdown against South Florida.

Why the improvement with no new victory? Notre Dame can thank LSU and Oklahoma for that. Both teams dropped significantly lower on the poll due to their tough losses against much lower ranked teams, Mississippi State and Kansas State, respectively. Although just the beginning of both their seasons, this is a chance for the Irish to lock down their spot. What are the key factors that will affect Notre Dame’s position?

Beginning of the SEC

The biggest threat to the Irish’s position in the top 25 will be the impact of the SEC. As the season began on Sept. 26, teams such Alabama, Georgia, Florida and LSU are seeking to be a top threat in college football once again. Because these programs are known for maintaining presence in past AP polls, there is no doubt this season will not be any different. Alabama, Georgia and Florida are all in the top five currently. They all have played only one game. ND will be at least two to three games ahead of them at all times. Some call this unfair, but regardless of the circumstances, the Irish can not lose fuel if they want to keep up with these powerhouses.

Impact of the Big Ten

The Big Ten recently announced its decision to come back and play football in the fall. As their seasons will not start until Oct. 24, many teams in the Big Ten pose a potential threat to Notre Dame. First, Ohio State, the obvious pick for a team that would be on the Irish’s back in the Top 25. Always producing a dominant team, Ohio State will be ready to prove its place in the nation. Next, the wildcards. Wisconsin, Penn State, Michigan and even Minnesota could sneak up the polls depending on the type of season they have. The final poll produced last year featured Ohio State, Penn State and Minnesota all in the top 10. If this trend continues, Notre Dame will have a lot of work to display in order to keep up with these competitors.

End of the season impact

As Brian Kelly loves to speak on the Irish’s second half abilities, the Irish can become a second half of the season team. This is going to be essential. Why? Mostly because the biggest threats to the AP Top 25 did not start their season when Notre Dame did. With the SEC just beginning, the Big Ten not starting for another month and the Pac-12 starting in November, the Irish are going to have to find their inner momentum to finish the season stronger than they began. This is the only way they will stay in the running for a top five spot, as well as a spot in the College Football Playoff.

Photo by Allison Thornton | The Observer