The Notre Dame Fighting Irish continue its slow rise up the college football rankings this week by earning a #17 ranking from both the AP Top 25 and Coaches Poll.
Notre Dame went into its game against the Clemson Tigers as the #12 team in the country with a legitimate shot at a New Years Six bowl game. After the loss to Dabo and the boys, Notre Dame dropped like a rock to #22 — which actually felt a bit harsh, but we’re Catholic and used to it by now (laugh — that was a joke).
Notre Dame had a bye week and two games against Power 5 programs to work against as they tried to climb back into something more respectable in the top 15. Notre Dame won its final two games by a combined score of 101-30, and is now up to #16. I suppose the Irish could technically jump the #15 ranked Louisville Cardinals with an ACC Championship victory by the Florida State Seminoles, but that would be the best ranking available going into the bowl game.
The big battle cry by critics of Notre Dame every year is that they are “always overrated” in the polls to start each year. Even this year, with a #13 preseason ranking, there were similar shouts (which seems kind of silly). Without question, if Notre Dame wins the bowl game, they will eclipse that preseason ranking — which is actually what they have down most years since 2017. There’s even a path to the top 10... but we can talk about that later.
If you’re asking why any of us should care about any of this... because you friggin should. Regardless of how disappointed you may be with the Irish failing to meet your own expectations, a top 15 finish is a bulletpoint to bolster the program — and a top 10 finish is an even bigger bulletpoint.
It’s what we have on the table, so pick up your fork and knife and dig in.