How Notre Dame's strength of schedule compares to other College Football Playoff hopefuls
Notre Dame came in at No. 8 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings after a convincing win over Virginia in Week 11.
It’s the second straight week the Fighting Irish have jumped up in the rankings. But with a 9-1 record, does Notre Dame deserve to be higher?
Brian Kelly made a compelling case for his team after their win last weekend, citing their continual improvement over the course of the season. The Fighting Irish have also played a difficult schedule to date — often much more difficult than their peers.
Here’s how the top eight of the College Football Playoff rankings shake out in terms of strength of schedule, per ESPN’s FPI.
- No. 1 Georgia: 42
- No. 2 Alabama: 28
- No. 3 Oregon: 29
- No. 4 Ohio State: 64
- No. 5 Cincinnati: 102
- No. 6 Michigan: 32
- No. 7 Michigan State: 60
- No. 8 Notre Dame: 33
Georgia is untouchable with an undefeated record at No. 1. Alabama and Oregon have both faced slightly tougher schedules than Notre Dame and have identical 9-1 records. Michigan isn’t far off in that regard, either.
Ohio State has played a soft schedule so far, although the Buckeyes will get their chance over the next two weeks to improve their résumé. If they win out, it’s possible their SoS could rise above Notre Dame’s. The same goes for Michigan State, who has to play in Columbus this weekend.
Cincinnati is the elephant in the room. Of course, the Bearcats handed Notre Dame its only loss earlier this season. But since then, Cincy has struggled on multiple occasions while Notre Dame continues to improve. Would the committee take strength of schedule into account over head-to-head when evaluating the totality of a season? It’s certainly possible, given some of the decisions we’ve seen the committee make to this point.
For any of that to matter, Notre Dame will have to finish its season on a positive note. The Fighting Irish face Georgia Tech on Saturday in their penultimate game of the season at 1:30 p.m. ET.