Notre Dame College Football Playoff Encouragement Guide – Week 13


Notre Dame (10-1) has moved up two spots to move up to 6th place in the latest college football playoff standings, meaning the Fighting Irish are knocking on the door of their third playoff appearance in four seasons. Notre Dame only has one game left, which means the Irish still need help.

Ole Miss once helped Notre Dame last night by knocking out the state of Mississippi, preventing Alabama from adding another Top 25 win to their resume. There are a number of games on Friday and Saturday that will have a HUGE impact on Notre Dame’s chances in the playoffs.

With Notre Dame not playing until 8 p.m. ET on Saturday night, Irish fans will be able to watch almost any game that could impact Notre Dame’s ranking on Tuesday. Here are those matches and for which Irish fans should rejoice.


# 4 Cincinnati Bearcats at East Carolina Pirates

Game time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Network: ABC
Broadcast: Cincinnati -14.0

If Cincinnati wins they are entered, if Cincinnati abandons a game the Irish have a chance to skip them. A loss to an unranked East Carolina team would certainly hurt Cincinnati’s resume, and that would set up an AAC title game against Cincinnati that could completely knock out the Bearcats, assuming they lost two. times. It’s a long shot for sure, but it would certainly improve Notre Dame’s chances considerably, and it could protect Notre Dame if Alabama topples Georgia.

North Carolina Tar Heels at # 20 NC State Wolfpack

Game time: 7 p.m. ET
Network: ESPN
Broadcast: NC state -6.0

Notre Dame needs more quality wins on their CV, and North Carolina is giving the Irish a chance for a pretty decent end-of-season win. If the Tar Heels beat NC State, it would give them three wins in their last four games, including two outclassed teams (UNC beat Wake Forest 58-55 the week after losing to ND). It doesn’t necessarily move the needle, but it certainly helps.


# 2 Ohio State Buckeyes at # 5 Michigan Wolverines

Game time: 12:00 p.m. ET
Network: Fox
Broadcast: OSU -8.0

Assuming Notre Dame convincingly beats Stanford, the odds are high that the Irish will finish the regular season in 5th place and the winner of that game will land a spot in the Big Ten Championship game. There are several ways of looking at this. The first is wanting a Notre Dame playoff team to play against the best teams, and Ohio State is clearly one of the top two teams in the country. If you want a slightly easier path to the Notre Dame playoffs, you have to put down roots for Michigan. I also think Wisconsin has a better chance of knocking out Michigan in a rematch than Ohio State, so a Michigan upset would also increase the chances that the Big Ten would ultimately be knocked out of the playoffs.

# 3 Alabama Crimson Tide at Auburn Tigers

Game time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Network: CBS
Broadcast: Alabama -20.0

It’s a major long shot, especially with Auburn QB Bo Nix out for the season with an injury, but it’s worth shooting. The worst case scenario for Notre Dame is that Ohio State or Michigan wins the Big Ten, Cincinnati wins, and Alabama upsets Georgia. If this happens, the Irish are eliminated. If Alabama loses to Auburn, they’re out, which means what happens in the SEC title game really doesn’t matter. We have a precedent (Penn State, 2016) of a 2-loss conference champion who didn’t overtake a 1-loss team (Ohio State) that he beat.

Indiana Hoosiers at Purdue Boilermakers

Game time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Network: FS1
Broadcast: Purdue -16.0

Right now, Notre Dame only has one win over a Top 25 opponent. A convincing Purdue win would end their season at 8-4 and give them a good chance of getting back into the Top 25. That would give Notre Dame’s CV a much needed boost.

# 14 Wisconsin Badgers at Minnesota Golden Gophers

Game time: 4 p.m. ET
Network: Fox
Broadcast: Wisconsin -7.0

A win in Wisconsin earns them their spot in the Big Ten title game and keeps them moving up the rankings. If Minnesota wins, Purdue wins, and Iowa loses to Nebraska, it would create a four-team tie atop the West standings. In that scenario, that would send the Gophers into play for the Big Ten title. Wisconsin has the best chance of knocking down any of the Eastern teams, and the Badgers who win the title game would certainly bolster Notre Dame’s resume.

# 10 Oklahoma Sooners at # 7 Oklahoma State Cowboys

Game time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Network: ABC
Broadcast: Oklahoma State -4.0

There are three options for the Big 12 that would help Notre Dame, and none of them involve victory for the state of Oklahoma. But that doesn’t mean that Oklahoma beating Oklahoma State is the only or the best way for Notre Dame to advance to the playoffs. If Oklahoma State wins Bedlam’s game, he sends them into the Big 12 title game against Baylor if the Bears beat Texas Tech, or in a rematch against Oklahoma if the Bears lose. If Oklahoma wins, they’ll host a rematch with the Cowboys next weekend.

No matter who wins this game, the Irish always have a good chance of beating the Big 12 champion, but Oklahoma’s resume is a lot less impressive, so looking at this one clash alone, Irish fans should shoot for the Sooners. The committee clearly doesn’t like Oklahoma, and a win over Oklahoma state probably doesn’t change that enough to skip Notre Dame, even if it happens twice.


*** Shoot so that any team ranked 20-25 loses. The reason is that it would open up a place for Purdue if the Boilermakers beat Indiana. This would give Notre Dame a second victory in the Top 25. A loss of # 25 Arkansas (at home against Missouri) would take a Top 25 victory for Alabama and Georgia.

*** # 1 Georgia (11-0) at Georgia Tech (3-8) – No, you don’t watch that Saturday noon game to see the Bulldogs get beaten by the Yellow Jackets. Notre Dame beat Georgia Tech 55-0 last weekend, and while the Irish can beat GT more impressively than Georgia, it gives the Irish a little data point that continues to help boost their CV.

*** Texas Tech (6-5) at # 8 Baylor (9-2) – Notre Dame fans should be big Baylor fans right now. There is a Big 12 scenario that involves Oklahoma and Oklahoma State split the games for the next two weeks, but the other ideal Big 12 scenario is 2 losses for Baylor winning the Big 12.

*** Caroline from the south beat Clemson and Louisville beat Kentucky would guarantee that Georgia has at most one Top 25 win this season. Arkansas lose against Missouri would mean the Bulldogs have zero. It’s a very, very, very long shot, but if Georgia loses Alabama in the SEC title match, that might be enough to knock the Bulldogs out of the Top 4.

Strength of the programming assistant

There are a number of Irish opponents who have big games that could help bolster Notre Dame’s schedule. I’ve talked about Purdue, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Georgia Tech before, but there are others.

*** Florida State (5-6) vs. Florida (5-6) – Both teams play to be bowl eligible, and a win would be HUGE for the Seminoles both in terms of bowl eligibility and momentum.

*** Akron (2-9) at Toledo (6-5) – Toledo are looking to win their third game in a row, which would be good for the Rockets and the Irish.

*** # 13 BYU (9-2) to USC (4-6) – USC is a train wreck right now, but if the Trojans toppled the Cougars it would help Wisconsin climb even further in the standings and help bolster Notre Dame’s schedule.

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