The biggest problem with the College Football Playoff in my opinion has been what it has done to the roughly 120 teams that aren’t in contention for a playoff spot this time of year. Annually there are great stories to be told of teams who have improved greatly since early-season struggles plagued them. However, since they aren’t part of the CFP then they aren’t worth mentioning or discussing in far too many people’s eyes.
Notre Dame is one of those teams this year. The Irish obviously started 0-2 and were left for dead after losing to Marshall and losing starting quarterback Tyler Buchner for the year. However, Notre Dame has gone 7-1 since then and is ranked 18th in the CFP rankings that were released Tuesday night.
I know Notre Dame isn’t going to a College Football Playoff game and there is a 99.99999% chance (my secret formula told me) that they don’t go to the New Year’s Six. As a lifelong Notre Dame fan though I still prefer the number next to their name to be the smallest number possible at the end of the year.
So how do we make that happen? Here is what Notre Dame fans should be rooting for this weekend:
Ranked Group of Five games this weekend
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
SMU at No. 21 Tulane (Thursday)
Navy at No. 20 UCF
No. 25 Cincinnati at Temple
Obviously, we’re rooting for Notre Dame to hold off these teams as each are ranked behind the Irish. That means we’d like an upset in all three of these if possible. Perhaps it doesn’t help Notre Dame’s ranking next week, but it weakens the strength of victories some of these teams still have remaining.
Ranked ACC games this weekend:
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
Here we’re split on what we’re pulling for. Notre Dame needs to have their best wins stay nice wins for as long as possible. That means Clemson and North Carolina will be favorites of ours until they meet in the ACC championship. North Carolina State is somehow still ranked after falling to Boston College, but we’d like them to beat Louisville so North Carolina’s potential win over them is another ranked victory next week. As for Florida State, they’re playing great of late and wouldn’t mind them falling just to keep them off Notre Dame’s heels.
Ranked Big Ten games this weekend:
Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports
Illinois being 7-3 and alive in the Big Ten West would make you think we want them to be eliminated from possibly passing Notre Dame. I don’t make the rules but under these circumstances, Michigan’s season being ruined is far more important than if Notre Dame were to drop a spot because of a result. I’m Illini orange and blue through and through this weekend.
Ohio State‘s trip to Maryland feels like it’s a waste of time to think anything significant is going to happen but chaos is fun when you’re not involved. In terms of rankings though, the Buckeyes losing after already beating Notre Dame this year provides nothing. So Buck-it and go Ohio State. I think that’s how the saying goes in Columbus, anyway.
New Jersey is where our biggest rooting interest in the Big Ten goes this week. We’d love to see our friends at Rutgers Wire do everyone in college football a huge favor and upset Penn State. Did you know the Nittany Lions are ranked 11th despite not beating a ranked opponent? Rutgers beating Penn State would also save the nation from potentially seeing the Nittany Lions in a New Year’s Six game. Come on Rutgers, please do something for a change.
Ranked Big 12 games this weekend:
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
No. 4 TCU at Baylor
No. 15 Kansas State at West Virginia
No. 22 Oklahoma State at Oklahoma
All three ranked Big 12 teams are on the road this weekend and I’d be surprised if all three escape with victories. The one we’d like to see fall the most is Kansas State as the Wildcats sit just three spots ahead of the Irish. Kansas State currently has exactly zero wins over any currently ranked teams makes us wonder if they’re actually any good. Essentially, they’re the great plains version of Penn State to us.
Ranked Pac 12 games this weekend:
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
It’s easy to see why we’ll pull against both Oregon State and Washington seeing as the proximity in rankings to Notre Dame. As for USC, a win by them would theoretically mean the Irish move past UCLA in next week’s rankings and that the game against USC is still against a just one-loss squad which provides two things to Notre Dame:
A potential second win over a top-10 team
The joy of being the ones who ruin Southern Cal’s College Football Playoff hopes. Inject it into this lifetime Notre Dame fan’s veins.
As for Utah and Oregon, we’ll back the Utes as a win by them accomplishes two things: strengthens USC’s resume for next week, and knocks Oregon even closer to Notre Dame in the polls.
Ranked SEC games this weekend:
Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
We’d like to root for common sense and ask Alabama and LSU to move these games to September instead of late in November as it’d be better for all of college football. Neither of them are losing so we won’t waste our time there.
Notre Dame isn’t catching Georgia or Tennessee so we won’t waste energy there, either. What would be helpful is for the hogs to answer their call and for Arkansas to beat Ole Miss. This would provide great help for Notre Dame as Ole Miss is a team certainly within reach of passing and a loss to an unranked opponent might be enough to do the trick this week.
Don't Forget: Beat Boston College
** FILE ** Boston College running back Derrick Knight (20) celebrates their 14-7 victory over Notre Dame in this Nov. 2, 2002 photo at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Ind. The two teams meet again this Saturday in South Bend. (AP Photo/Joe Raymond)
Remember, you’re only able to catch and pass teams if you handle business yourself. So please, Notre Dame, go out and handle Boston College unlike North Carolina State did at home a week ago, move to 8-3 and let’s get onto USC week with hopes of ruining their season.