With Baylor’s surprise victory over No. 5 Oklahoma State in the Big 12 title game, Notre Dame’s No. 6 college football playoff hopes took a big step forward.
The Fighting Irish now sit at No. 6, while No. 4 Cincinnati faces No. 21 Houston in hopes of winning the American Athletic Conference and solidifying their position in the eyes of the playoff committee as Notre Dame waits. and watch from home. However, that’s far from a guaranteed win for the Bearcats.
So Notre Dame can still be part of the CFP? Sporting News take a look.
Can Notre Dame get to the CFP with a loss to Cincinnati?
Notre Dame came into the weekend in sixth place in the standings. That meant the Fighting Irish would need some help from the teams in front of them to advance as they won’t be playing any games.
The Fighting Irish already got a wish with No. 5 Oklahoma State losing to No. 9 Baylor, eliminating one of the teams ahead of them in the chase of the CFP.
What happens then if Cincinnati loses? For all intents and purposes, that would remove the Bearcats from the conversation. A Group of Five team has never made the playoffs, and the committee might have less forgiveness for a Cincinnati team with a loss and no conference championship.
That leaves an open spot for Notre Dame who, at this point, looks likely the Fighting Irish will lose. They are ahead of No. 7 Ohio State, which also does not play Saturday. If any of the top three teams win, they are in. No. 1 Georgia almost certainly makes the playoffs even if it loses to No. 3 Alabama. And even if the Bulldogs beat Crimson Tide and the committee elects to put Alabama in the playoffs, not a conference champion with two losses, that would still leave a spot open for a fourth team.
CFP Scenarios: Can Alabama make the playoffs with a loss to Georgia?
So what teams would be available to fill that vacancy? There are not many options outside of Notre Dame. No. 10 Oregon was beaten by No. 17 Utah in the Pac-12 Championship, knocking out any chance of the Pac-12 reaching the CFP. Baylor could jump five spots, but there is still a long way to go.
Could the committee reconsider the state of Ohio with two losses over Notre Dame with one loss? President Gary Barta had previously said that when the last set of rankings came out, they did not consider the availability of coaches or players when publishing the rankings, and that they would do so when deciding the four teams to go to the CFP. On Monday, the day before the rankings were released, it was revealed that Brian Kelly would be leaving South Bend, Indiana, for Baton Rouge, Louisiana, for the LSU vacancy.
MORE: Does the United States expect Notre Dame to have a chance to hit Brian Kelly at the CFP?
However, ESPN’s Heather Dinich reported that the committee is no longer considering the change of coach as a factor since Marcus Freeman took over and retained most of the staff.
The chairman of the committee, Gary Barta, told me today that the situation of the coaches in ND has become a factor that does not influence the evaluation of the Irish. They talked about it last night, and the continuity there with Freeman and the holding staff makes it moot.
– Heather Dinich (@CFBHeather) December 4, 2021
Could the committee beat the Buckeyes over the Fighting Irish? It seems highly unlikely, especially given Barta’s latest position on the Notre Dame training situation.
Ultimately, if Cincinnati loses, it will build confidence in South Bend that their team could be destined for their second straight trip to the CFP.
Can Notre Dame get to the CFP with a Cincinnati win?
This scenario seems much more unlikely for the Fighting Irish.
If Cincinnati wins, their head-to-head advantage against the Bearcats, not to mention Cincinnati’s two ranked victories to Notre Dame’s zero, means that the Fighting Irish certainly won’t beat Cincinnati.
To get in, Notre Dame would have to see Michigan lose to No. 13 Iowa and Alabama to lose to Georgia, likely in a blowout. Again, Georgia has almost secured a spot in the CFP regardless of the outcome in the SEC Championship Game. Iowa is too far from a playoff picture to be considered for a spot, even if it wins the Big Ten.
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In that situation, the only two that are guaranteed a spot are Georgia and Cincinnati, sparking a debate between two losses, Big 12 champion Baylor, two Alabama losses, one Notre Dame loss, two Michigan losses, and two Ohio State losses. . Notre Dame would seem like a decent bet to take one of the two remaining spots, but that’s still far from a guarantee.
A Cincinnati win doesn’t completely eliminate Notre Dame’s playoff chances, but it would mean a lot of things would have to go right for the Fighting Irish to have a chance.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.