It’s hard to be more right predicting a game than I was about the NC State Notre Dame game yesterday, yet here we are. NC State came out flying around the field and were clearly ready to go, striking first with a blocked punt for a TD, but when push came to shove Notre Dame was just way more talented/athletic on both sides of the ball. Another double digit win versus another ranked opponent, yawn.
Meanwhile, former Notre Dame head coach finalist and current TCU head coach Gary Patterson was doing his part, as were the Diddly Lions in Columbus as both teams suffered crushing losses at the hands of lower ranked opponents. All of this resulted in the Irish moving up four spots in the AP Poll for the second straight week to fifth in the country, catapulting Miami and Clemson along the way. By all accounts, Notre Dame would be the favorite to win the ACC at this point if they didn’t decide they wanted to keep making money hand over fist instead.
Why this is good:
Notre Dame is without a doubt one of the most talented teams in the country right now on both sides of the ball. Usually I heir on the side of caution with Notre Dame, feeling that their name often times earns them a higher spot in the polls than deserved, but this is not one of those times. The only team that’s looked better is Alabama, and had it not been for a bad penalty on a third down that gave UGA that win in South Bend, Notre Dame would be the second ranked team in the country. If they win out they deserve a spot in the coveted top four.
Why this is bad:
Penn State’s loss really annoyed me yesterday. On the one hand, sure, them losing means the Notre Dame moves higher up in the rankings. But, it was a dramatic one point loss on the road. Wisconsin, sitting ahead of Notre Dame at fourth, is currently undefeated and will be due to their strength of schedule until the B1G Championship game. Barring Ohio State loses to Michigan, the Buckeyes will wax the floor with Wisconsin and secure their spot in the Final Four. Georgia should remain undefeated as well up until the SEC Championship game, where they will more than likely lose to Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide in what should be the first of many SEC Championship games between Georgia and Alabama.
If all of this happens and Notre Dame wins out, that means the teams with one loss and not conference champions in the country will be: Georgia, Notre Dame, Penn St., Wisconsin, and TCU. The Big 5 conference champions will be: Alabama, Ohio St., Clemson, Oklahoma, Washington. Alabama, Ohio St. and Clemson will be locks, leaving one spot left for one of those one loss teams. Wisconsin and TCU’s losses will be too ugly for them to overcome, so they’ll be out. Then you have Georgia, who beat Notre Dame by 1 in South Bend, and Penn St. who lost by 1 on the road. Seemingly, those two resumes would be better than Notre Dame’s, particularly Georgia’s. Despite the fact that Notre Dame will have beaten six teams who are or were ranked this year in the Top 25, the Irish will be watching the Playoff like the rest of us: drinking heavily, betting dangerously, and gently weeping into a couch cushion.
So Irish fans, enjoy this for now. Yesterday’s win and this spot in the rankings is another huge step in the right direction of becoming a perennial powerhouse again. But, be mindful of the fact that for this team to have a chance to hoist the Championship trophy in January, there are still many things that need to be done. The first thing that needs to happen: winning out.
Go Irish. Beat Wake Forest.