Notre Dame football: Do the Irish have a secure spot in Playoff?

Notre Dame football

For Notre Dame football, this is the first time it’s ever playing in a conference championship. For the entirety of their existence, the Irish have been independent. That was until this year when Notre Dame broke that tradition and joined the ACC under much pressure. As COVID-19 was threatening the chance of having any normal season, the Irish made a decision that would give them better stability in a time of unknowns.

Looking back, Notre Dame’s journey in the ACC was quite successful. Being the only undefeated team in the conference, the Irish proved their dominance. Now, Notre Dame has the opportunity to continue this season in the College Football Playoff. Before there is any confirmation on the Irish’s next step, they have to prove their desire for a spot in the College Football Playoff by defeating Clemson.

The factors regarding Clemson

Notre Dame does have an edge over Clemson this time around. Because it won the first showdown in November, there is a better possibility of the Irish staying in the rankings if they suffer a loss. Clemson, on the other hand, has more pressure to deal with. If the Tigers fail to leave North Carolina with a win, Clemson could be in deep waters. But, if Trevor Lawrence comes back better and ever and the Irish crumble severely under pressure, the committee could reconsider the value of Notre Dame.

Facing the current reality, the Irish are in a good position. Current is the key word in the previous sentence, as college football has proven to be unpredictable. Nonetheless, the Irish are entering the game on Saturday with a chip on their shoulder. They have a better record, as well as the better standing. The only task left to do is execute to their best ability. That should be the ticket into the playoffs.

The other contenders

For the final week of the College Football Playoff ranking, the teams remained the same as previous weeks. Alabama has kept the No. 1 spot, followed by the Irish, the Buckeyes and the Tigers. Texas A&M has found itself in the fifth spot, which could play out in its favor if Ohio State or Clemson loses its conference championships. Ohio State is scheduled to play Northwestern for the Big Ten Championship. For many anti-Buckeye fans, an Ohio State loss would encourage the boot for the Buckeyes to be out of the ranking.

Previously, I thought that Ohio State would threaten Notre Dame’s spot in the College Football Playoff ranking. Even though the Buckeyes have not played the season that the Irish have, they always seemed to be a favorite in the committee’s eyes. While Ohio State might not be necessarily the best team to earn a spot, Notre Dame should not get caught up in what happens to the Buckeyes until there is a matchup in the postseason.

Iowa State is a true wildcard, as it comes in at No. 6 in the ranking. The Cyclones have an opportunity to be considered if Ohio State is upset by Northwestern. It is certain the Aggies and the Cyclones are hoping for miracles on Saturday in order for a redemption.

Answering my question from the title, I think Notre Dame has a secure spot…as of now. Saturday could be a day of upsets and who is to say what the committee is really thinking. All the Irish can do at this moment is stay driven and keep their eyes on the prize.

Photo by Ann Curtis | The Observer