Notre Dame rooting guide: Finding the Fighting Irish's path to the College Football Playoff
Notre Dame currently sits at No. 8 in the College Football Playoff rankings with just two weeks remaining in the regular season.
The Fighting Irish are 9-1 and will likely receive consideration for one of the final four spots if they’re able to finish out the regular season without another loss.
Notre Dame’s lone blemish is a home defeat to No. 5 Cincinnati, which could be difficult to overcome in the season’s final weeks. However, there is a path to Notre Dame securing a coveted College Football Playoff berth.
Here’s what Notre Dame fans should be rooting for down the stretch:
- Georgia beats Alabama in the SEC Championship Game
Georgia defeating Alabama in the SEC Championship Game is likely the only way to knock the Tide out of the top four. Even if Alabama loses in the Iron Bowl, a win over Georgia in the SEC Championship Game would likely be enough for Nick Saban’s squad to make the Playoff again.
There’s two things to consider here: a best-case scenario and a realistic scenario that still ends up working out for Notre Dame in most cases.
The best-case scenario is…
- Wisconsin wins Big Ten Championship Game over a 2-loss team from the Big Ten East
The Badgers have three losses and likely wouldn’t receive serious consideration from the committee, even with the Big Ten Championship on their résumé. That’s especially true if Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State all exit the regular season with two or more losses.
The other scenario that Notre Dame fans should hope for is…
- Ohio State, Michigan State or Michigan win out, including the B1G Championship Game
This would give the Big Ten exactly one team in the final four, which is something the Fighting Irish can work around if necessary.
- Oregon loses to Utah in Week 12 or in the Pac-12 title game
This is an important step. With the Big Ten and SEC getting 2-3 teams into the field, it’s important for Notre Dame that the Pac-12 gets left out. Oregon sits at No. 3 in the current rankings and will absolutely make the CFP if it doesn’t lose again.
No other Pac-12 teams are in the mix.
- Oklahoma and Oklahoma State lose one more game each
Just like with the Pac-12, it’s vital the Big 12 isn’t able to get a representative into the CFP. Oklahoma’s loss to Baylor in Week 11 helps tremendously in that regard, but a 12-1 Sooners team could still end up edging out Notre Dame in the final poll.
That goes for No. 9 Oklahoma State as well, who is quietly playing great football going into the home stretch. It would be best for Notre Dame if Oklahoma and Oklahoma State split their remaining matchups — in Stillwater in Week 13 and (presumably) in Arlington, Texas, for the Big 12 title.
- Wake Forest loses one game
This isn’t likely to matter, but a 12-1 Wake Forest team could potentially be a nightmare for Notre Dame. The Demon Deacons will likely be underdogs in two of their final three games, but stranger things have happened.
- Cincinnati loses one game
This may only end up mattering if the Pac-12 or Big 12 is able to get a team into the top 4. It’s possible both Notre Dame and Cincinnati could make the playoff, but it would be far more comfortable for the Fighting Irish if the Bearcats dropped a game down the stretch.
Ultimately, Notre Dame needs to jump four spots in the final three weeks of the season (including conference championship games). Of the seven teams ranked above Notre Dame in this week’s poll, only Georgia would be poised to remain in front of the Fighting Irish if they suffered a loss.
Ohio State still plays Michigan and Michigan State. One of those Big Ten East powers still has to face Wisconsin. Alabama still has Auburn and Georgia on its schedule. Oregon has to beat Utah twice. The Big 12 and the ACC are hanging on by a thread.
The path is there.
Notre Dame hosts Georgia Tech at 2:30 p.m. ET on Saturday.