At 10-2 and ranked #14, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish won’t be able complete two of their most important goals for the 2019 season. They aren’t going to be in the playoffs and they won’t be playing for a national championship.
Still, there is one big goal that can still be attained with one more game left. That goal, is to finish as a top 10 team. It’s not what most of us hoped for back in August, but this is what we have — and it’s important. Despite the “national championship or bust” vibe from the fanbase, finishing #5 and #10 in consecutive seasons is important for a football program that is still on the rise.
The voters decided Notre Dame’s New Years Six fate back in October, and at the time we couldn’t blame them. After 5 straight wins that included 4 blowouts and 2 top 25 victories — their reasons became excuses. This was especially true for the college football playoff committee, but the AP Poll wasn’t too off base from what was going on over there.
The college football playoff rankings absolutely mean nothing now. They don’t provide a final ranking after the bowl season, so we turn back to the AP Poll (and the coaches if you believe in lies). The difference between the two polls right now is that ND is #15 in the CFP rankings and #14 in the AP Poll — because the AP has Michigan ranked a few spots below the Irish.
Moving up four spots with just one game left in the season is daunting enough, especially when you consider that the Irish have to play an unranked Iowa St. Cyclones team in the Camping World Bowl. Still... there is a good opportunity here. I won’t try to lay out the exact path, but here is your guide to what Notre Dame needs to move up. Again... they won’t need all of it — but they will need quite a bit of it.
First and foremost, the Irish have to take care of business in Orlando — and do it convincingly. Then... they need certain teams to lose and certain teams to win. Here is that list:
- USC Trojans over the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Holiday Bowl
- Memphis Tigers over the Penn State Nittany Lions in the Cotton Bowl
- Virginia Cavaliers over the Florida Gators in the Orange Bowl
- Virginia Tech Hokies over the Kentucky Wildcats in the Belk Bowl
- Navy Midshipmen over Kansas State Wildcats in the Liberty Bowl
- Texas Longhorns over the Utah Utes in the Alamo Bowl
- Minnesota Golden Gophers over the Auburn Tigers in the Outback Bowl (maybe)
- Alabama Crimson Tide over the Michigan Wolverines in the Citrus Bowl
- Oregon Ducks over the Wisconsin Badgers in the Rose Bowl
- Georgia Bulldogs over the Baylor Bears in the Sugar Bowl
Again... they don’t need all of that to happen — just a good portion of it (a combo shot).
This is what we have, so this is what I am presenting. A top 10 Notre Dame football team with an 11-2 record that has MANY key pieces returning in 2020. I’ll jump on the hype train for that and wear a dope blue and gold engineer hat while fist-pumping the night away.
It’s what we have. Go with it.