HomeNcaafootballNCAA The Monday After: Notre Dame is forgotten College Football Playoff contender, possible chaos agent TV Chennel

NCAA The Monday After: Notre Dame is forgotten College Football Playoff contender, possible chaos agent TV Chennel

The Monday After: Notre Dame is forgotten College Football Playoff contender, possible chaos agent

NCAA The Monday After: Notre Dame is forgotten College Football Playoff contender, possible chaos agent TV Chennel

Notre Dame is one of the most historic programs in college football history. Its past makes up much of the sport’s lore, while its present has seen it return to national prominence. Not only has Notre Dame claimed 11 national championships (with 11 unclaimed national titles tossed at its feet), but it’s reached the College Football Playoff twice in the last three seasons. Following a 28-3 win over Virginia Saturday night, the Irish improved to 9-1 on the season and will climb at least one spot when the new College Football Playoff Rankings are released Tuesday night.

Still, despite that long history and their own separate television deal, the Irish haven’t seemed to garner much attention this season. They’re the forgotten College Football Playoff candidate, and also the contender that could prove to be the catalyst that changes the face of the sport’s postseason again.

As things stand, there are 11 realistic candidates to earn a spot in the four-team field, but many of those candidates will knock each other out along the way. That No. 2 next to Alabama is misleading because it still has to win out and beat No. 1 Georgia in the SEC Championship Game to reach the playoff.

In last week’s rankings, Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan were all ranked ahead of the Irish, but both Michigan schools are yet to play the Buckeyes. When the dust settles, only one will remain as a contender. That team will still have to play either Wisconsin or Iowa in the Big Ten Championship Game.

We saw Oklahoma’s playoff hopes take a hit in this week’s loss to Baylor, but the Sooners can still make it. Of course, another contender in Oklahoma State waits in its path, and the two might meet again in the Big 12 Championship Game. By the time they’re done, both could have eliminated one another.

Other contenders like Oregon and Wake Forest don’t have direct competition left on their schedules, but will have to get past teams like Utah and Clemson before prospective appearances in their conference title games.

Then there’s the team that beat Notre Dame in South Bend. The Cincinnati Bearcats might have the most difficult path of all because not only do they have to play SMU, a surging East Carolina and Houston in the AAC title game, but they also have to beat perception. The perception that says when a Power Five team wins a game 42-21, it was a dominant performance, but when a Group of Five team wins a game 45-28, it messed around with an inferior opponent.

Finally, we have Notre Dame. That 9-1 team whose lone loss came to those Bearcats. While the other teams all must battle both each other and perception, the Irish finish with a home game against 3-7 Georgia Tech and a road game against 3-7 Stanford. While this sport is always quick to remind us we can’t assume anything, it’s not crazy to assume that after everybody else spends the next few weeks knocking each other out, Notre Dame will sit there at 11-1 and ready for its third playoff appearance in four seasons.

It also sets up a possible scenario in which we see three Power Five champions — or possibly two SEC teams and another P5 champ if Alabama beats Georgia — earn the first three spots. The selection committee will then be tasked with deciding between 11-1 Notre Dame or the 13-0 Cincinnati that beat the Irish.¬†

Logic dictates that the committee would take Cincinnati over Notre Dame, but this is the same committee that ranked Michigan ahead of Michigan State this week despite the Spartans beating the Wolverines only two weeks ago. The same committee, with its rotating cast of characters, has shown little respect for the Group of Five during its short reign over the sport. Admit it: if the committee chose the Irish over the Bearcats, you might be angry but you won’t be surprised.

It’s a scenario that could see the playoff changed to a more palatable option. I’m not pro-expansion — I’ve written before I’d rather contract than expand — but I’d happily accept it as a trade-off for a system that includes automatic berths for conference champions. I much prefer things settled on a field than in a conference room with a pot of coffee that could be fresh or could’ve been sitting there for 12 hours. An undefeated Group of Five champion being passed over for a one-loss team it beat on the road could be the final straw for a fundamentally flawed system.

Other CFP Contender Nobody Has Noticed of the Week

Oklahoma State destroyed TCU Saturday night as the Cowboys rushed for 447 yards against the Horned Frogs en route to a 63-17 win. While seeing not-too-distant previous iterations of Mike Gundy’s Oklahoma State teams scoring 63 points wouldn’t have come as a surprise, it was this season. The Cowboys put up 55 on Kansas a few weeks ago, but this has been a team build on defense the past two years. The Cowboys will be the highest-ranked Big 12 team in this week’s College Football Playoff Rankings, and should be garnering more respect nationally than they’ve received.

But, as has been the case for a while, nothing Oklahoma State has done to this point will matter if it doesn’t beat Oklahoma in Bedlam. It hasn’t happened since 2014, and if the Cowboys are going to end their six-game losing streak against their state rivals, they’ll need to keep the offense we’ve seen in recent weeks. That offense is what makes the Cowboys difficult to figure out. Is this an offense that found its identity and is peaking at the right time, or is it just an offense that’s putting up numbers against a pair of bad defenses? Even if it’s the latter, can we be sure Oklahoma’s defense is that much better than either?

Coach That’s Going To Get A Raise of the Week

No matter where Dave Aranda is coaching next season, he’ll be making more money than he is now. He deserves it. Baylor handed Oklahoma its first loss a week after suffering a surprising loss of its own, but while the Bears will regret that TCU loss, it shouldn’t overshadow how impressive a season this has been.

Aranda had been a well-respected defensive coordinator for a long time before finally accepting a head coaching job, and the initial returns were not promising. It wasn’t just that Baylor went 2-7 in Aranda’s first season that was concerning; it was Aranda’s process and decision-making. All the signs were there that he was going to fall into the trap that had caught plenty of other defensive coordinators turned head coaches — thinking he could win games 13-10 in this modern era of college football (hello, Jimmy Lake) where every rule change is designed to help the offense.¬†

Aranda, however, did something more people should do yet few of us do. He looked in the mirror, figured out what he had done wrong and decided to fix it. He brought in almost an entirely new staff on the offensive side of the ball. He raided BYU for offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes and offensive line coach Eric Mateos. He brought in Chansi Stuckey from Clemson to coach his receivers. The only coach on Baylor’s offensive staff last season still in the same role this year is running backs coach Justin Johnson.

So, guess what? Baylor’s offense improved. After scoring only 23.3 points per game last year, the Bears are putting 35.4 on the board every week and could find themselves playing for a Big 12 title in a few weeks. Either Baylor ponies up, or somebody else will because Aranda will be drawing a lot of interest, and deservedly so.

Sarcastic Question of the Week

Why is everybody so mad at Dan Mullen? His team just scored 70 points and had 717 yards of offense in a single game — both of which are tied for the third-most by any team in the country this season.

Walk-Off Winner of the Week

Now that is what a Hail Mary looks like. It’s the final play of the game, it determines the winner of the game and it starts on the other side of the 50-yard line. Do not accept anybody trying to tell you that a throw from the 35-yard line is a Hail Mary just because it comes at the end of a half.

Also, shoutout to South Dakota because if there’s a better way to win a rivalry game than this, I don’t know what it is.

Stock Advice of the Week

BUY — Kansas: By this point, you’re well aware that Kansas beat Texas 57-56 on Saturday in the most shocking yet expected upset of the season. While a lot of the attention focused on the outcome of that game has been on Texas and what it could mean for a program that refuses to realize you can’t fix every problem by throwing money at it, I’m far more interested in Kansas.

We’ve seen Kansas knock off Texas before, and it didn’t mean much for the program. I think this time is different, though. Kansas has tried hiring hot names and big names in the past, but this time it went out and hired a legitimate football coach in Lance Leipold. A coach who has shown at previous stops at different levels he knows what it takes to build a football program, and we’ve already seen the signs in Lawrence. There was this win over Texas, but there was also hanging with Oklahoma a few weeks ago. The hardest part of turning around any program used to losing is teaching the players how to win.

Against Oklahoma, the Jayhawks had a chance to win but didn’t know how and couldn’t finish the job. The lessons they learned in that loss helped them Saturday night. Even if they had to go about it the hard way and blow a large lead before winning in overtime, they finished the job. Now they know what it takes.

I’m not trying to tell you that the Jayhawks are on the cusp of a dominant run or anything, but I will tell you that Leipold will have this program bowling regularly in the new-look Big 12.

SELL — Oklahoma Fans: It was a bad look earlier this season when Sooners fans were chanting for Caleb Williams to replace Spencer Rattler. It’s just as bad a look now that they’re chanting for Rattler to replace Williams.

Bomb of the Week

Texas Tech blew a 34-14 lead against Iowa State on Saturday. Thankfully, the Red Raiders have kicker Jonathan Garibay, and Garibay happens to have a howitzer attached to his hip. It’s the same one he used to give the Red Raiders a 41-38 win with a walk-off 62-yard field goal.

That’s the Hail Mary of field goals.

Humorous Timing of the Week

We’ve reached the point of the year when both the Coaches Poll and AP Top 25 no longer have meaning, but that doesn’t mean we can’t find reasons to laugh at the results. You see, when the new AP Top 25 was released Sunday, it was hard not to notice that Alabama had jumped Cincinnati to take over the No. 2 spot. It’s a move that had been foretold for weeks.

If you looked closely at the poll every week, you could see Alabama closing the gap on the Bearcats. Given the tendency of the AP poll mirroring the CFP Rankings, it was only a matter of when not if. The when was this weekend because it seems Alabama’s 59-3 win over New Mexico State is what some voters had to see to be convinced that Alabama’s better than Cincinnati.

College Football Playoff Projection of the Week

  1. Georgia
  2. Alabama
  3. Oregon
  4. Ohio State

Until the next Monday After!


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