The Down the Tunnel Radio Show – Navy Preview

-GoIrishGlory

On this weeks show we talk about the newly released College Football Playoff Rankings and what Notre Dame needs for the playoff. We also previewed the game with Navy this weekend as well as other key games that have implications for the Irish.

http://tobtr.com/s/7057531

Fire the Torpedo’s! Its Time to Sink Navy – A Weekend Preview

-GoIrishGlory

Its finally time to get back to actual football. Since the heart breaking and gut wrenching last second loss to Florida State two weeks ago, Irish fans have been without Notre Dame football and instead had to deal with the incessant talk about polls for a playoff that are still over two months away as well as Justin Brent’s encounter with porn star Lisa Ann over fall break. Enough of all that. Its time to get back to the game played on the field. Notre Dame travels to Maryland this week to take on the Midshipmen of the Naval Academy at FedEx Field. The Irish enter the contest with a 6-1 record and ranked 10th in the College Football Playoff Rankings while Navy brings in a 4-4 record and a two game winning streak. Notre Dame will look to put the loss to Florida State in the rear view mirror and turn their focus to the remaining five games on the schedule as they try remain in the playoff picture. The Irish are by far the better team in this matchup with Navy, but as we all know the Naval Academy has played very well against Notre Dame in the last few years and the triple option attack used by Navy is tough for any defense.

When Brian Kelly first arrived at Notre Dame, everyone was excited about the offense that he would bring with him to South Bend after his success at Cincinnati. However in his first couple seasons, the offense did not live up to the expectations for a variety of reasons, most importantly the quarterback position. This season the offense is FINALLY playing to level we all expected. After looking very impressive during the first half of the season, the offense looked like it had put it all together against Florida State and the task now is to maintain that level of play. The Irish should be able to continue to build on their continued success on offense this week with Everett Golson at the helm going against a Navy defense that has struggled this season giving up 27.6 points per game ranking them 75th in the nation in scoring defense. Navy also ranks 75th nationally in rushing defense, giving up 170.9 yards per game on the ground which should allow for the Irish’s newly minted “feature back”, Tarean Folston, to continue to shine. Since Notre Dame went to Folston as the feature back the Irish are averaging 186.5 yards on the ground per game which is 25 yards more than their season average of 162.4. The Irish should be able to continue to have success on the ground this week.

folston

Navy’s passing defense is not much better than their mediocre at best rushing defense. The Midshipmen are giving up 242.9 yards through the air per game and they have not played an offense with a passing attack anywhere near as dynamic as they will see against the Irish on Saturday night. The Irish are averaging 285.1 passing yards per game ranking 29th nationally. Everett Golson played arguable the best game of his career against Florida State and he should have a field day throwing to wide open receivers all game long. Will Fuller speed is going to be very difficult for Navy to slow down, and Corey Robinson is quickly becoming a huge part of the Irish offense. Expect both to have great games as the Navy secondary will be unable to slow them down.

robinson

The biggest challenge for this game is for the Irish defense as they go up against the dreaded triple option attack that we have all grown to despise. Navy is bringing the nation’s leading rushing attack into this matchup averaging over 350 yards per game on the ground. However the Midshipmen rushing game will face their toughest test against the Irish, which is only allowing 102.7 yards per game ranking 12th nationally in rushing defense. The Irish front seven has continued to improve all season long with stellar performances by Jarron Jones, Issac Rochell, and Andrew Trumbeti along the defensive line and Joe Schmidt and Jaylon Smith in the linebacking corps. While Navy’s rushing stats look impressive on paper, it is important to point out that at least one reason why their yards per game is so high is because running the ball is the only thing the Navy offense does. The Midshipmen rank second to last in passying offense averaging only 91.6 yards per game. The Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds is really just another running back in their offensive attack and anytime that the Irish can force him to throw is a win for the defense. It will be interesting to see Brian VanGorder’s game plan against the option as he has admitted to not having face the option for years. Notre Dame is bigger, stronger, and faster than Navy and as long as the Irish defenders maintain their assignments, they should be able to slow down the triple option and force a few turnovers.

This is probably one of the worst Navy teams that Notre Dame will have faced during Brian Kelly’s tenure, including their 2012 team that lost 50-10 to Notre Dame in Ireland. Keenan Reynolds is a very good player however they are missing the talent at fullback and tailback that they have had in the past. Teams like Air Force have been able to hold Navy to 21 points this season, so their is no doubt in my mind that the Irish defense will be able to stop the triple option. Notre Dame needs to start blowing out the remaining teams on the schedule this season in order to stay in the playoff discussion and that starts this weekend. Irish fire the torpedo’s and sink Navy. Notre Dame 49 Navy 17 

Burning ship

Other Games Around the Country

3 Auburn at 4 Ole Miss- This game is a playoff eliminator. Both teams enter the contest with a loss and I highly doubt that a two loss team will be making the playoff. Ole Miss is strangely ranked 4th in the playoff rankings after losing to a mediocre LSU team last week and it looks as if the Rebels were exposed in Death Valley. While they may have a very good defense, their offense is not that good. Auburn is an overall better team with a better coach. The dream in Oxford ends this weekend. Auburn 28 Ole Miss 21

7 TCU at 20 West Virginia- TCU completely embarrasses a really bad Texas Tech team last week dropping 82 points on the Red Raiders. The Horned Frogs have looked very impressive all season minus the 4th quarter against Baylor. West Virginia however has also played very well as of late with the Clint Tricket to Kevin White connection. TCU has looked really bad on defense at times this season and playing in Morgantown is no easy task. For the second time this season, it will be couch burning time for the Mountaineers. West Virginia 45 TCU 41

tyrone-willingham-ncaa-football-playoff-selection-committee-press-conference

Pornstar U.

Jesse J. @TheShamRap

Huh? Did you really think I was going that route?

While Justin Brent’s Fall Break social media
shenanigans were an interesting filler to an otherwise
exhausting bye-week following “crabby flag-gate”,
there’s only one message to be taken from that;

herm-edwards

Ok, now that that has been addressed, on to stuff that matters…

Playoffs? Playoffs?! We are ranked 10th and you wanna talk about playoffs?!

So we’re ranked 10th in the inaugural Playoff Committee Poll.

Big deal.

Did you REALLY think a close loss to Crabby Patty U
was gonna be enough to keep us in the mix for the
playoff action?! Hell no. These assholes don’t respect
this team.
tyrone-willingham-ncaa-football-playoff-selection-committee-press-conference
And why should they? Our biggest win is a loss, and our 2nd biggest win is to Stanford, who until hopefully
this week vs. Oregon, hasn’t done us any favors with their play.

In fact, non of the teams that were supposed to give us
a chance to show our might have done us any favors
as far a S.O.S.

Michigan? HA!
USC? Uhhh no.
UNC? We made them look the best they’ve looked all year.
wpid-confused-face-1.jpg
So what the hell do we do?! We play. We win.

We can hope Louisville at least has a strong showing
against FSU.

We can pray that ASU crushes Utah before our showdown in Tempe.

We can half-heartedly put our hatred aside for USC,
and hope they close the season out impressively.

WE CAN WATCH AS THE REST OF THESE CONFERENCES
CANNIBALIZE EACHOTHER!

STAY THE COURSE YO!
tyrone-willingham-ncaa-football-playoff-selection-committee-press-conference
Ok, on to Navy.

You may have heard how Keenan Reynolds is a
dynamic play-maker for Navy, and we should be wary.

Stop it. Right now.

I’m not gonna kill you with a page full of seamen stats,
so I’m gonna make it simple…

Navy is TERRIBLE this year.

This is not even in the same class as any Midshipmen squad we’ve faced over the last decade.  Not even as good as the Navy team we beat 50-10 in Ireland to open the 2012 campaign.
image
This is the PERFECT game to start playing ANGRY.

I’m not even going to waste anymore time talking about Navy.
We win 56-13. Game over.

It’s not time to hit panic mode yet folks!!!
A lot of football yet to be played!

That’s my 2 cents. PEACE, I’M OUTTA HERE!

Go Irish.

Notre Dame’s Road To The Playoffs – Week 10

I was going to make this post yesterday, but decided to wait until after the official playoff committee rankings announcement.  I wish I hadn’t.  I was expecting the rankings to resemble something similar to the AP/USA Today polls.  I was wrong.  Just like many of you on twitter, I was disheartened when I saw the Irish come in at 10.  However, I wasn’t outraged. 

Let’s be honest with ourselves.  Despite coming into the season with one of the toughest schedules in the nation, Notre Dame’s opponents have not held up their end of the bargain.  Based on the preseason polls, the Irish had 5 top 25 teams on their schedule (FSU, Stanford, ASU, USC, UNC).  They also were to play 4 teams that received votes (Michigan, Navy, Louisville, Northwestern).  It’s not exactly the SEC schedule, but top to bottom, that’s a pretty solid slate of games.  All that remain ranked are FSU, who beat us, albeit probably shouldn’t, have and ASU, who we have a game with in a few weeks.  USC and Louisville still received some votes, with L’ville coming in at 25 in one of the polls. 

The only quality win the Irish have/had was Stanford, but the Cardinal are proving to be no where near as good as people thought they were in August.  So the Irish really have an uphill battle to climb.  They need to go into Arizona State and dominate them. This will be their statement win.  You couple this with the way the FSU game played out, and then the Irish can at least maintain some respectability in the eyes of the playoff committee. 

Just a little background on how the committee comes up with it’s rankings. It will be based on several factors including strength of schedule, team records, head-to-head match ups, weather and injuries.  The major polls will not be used in coming up with the rankings.  The most weight will be placed on a team’s strength of schedule.  So as I noted earlier, Notre Dame is hurt by the teams they play having down years.  So as fun as it is to root for Michigan and USC to lose every Saturday, we as fans should be rooting hard for our rivals each week, as painful as it may be.

So now I’m going to list all 9 teams ahead of the Irish, and their key remaining match ups.  Since the AP and USA Today polls aren’t accounted for in the playoff rankings, I’m not going to waste my time by listing them on here.  We are going straight off the committee rankings.

1. Mississippi State – 7-0 – SEC

Key games: 11/15 – Alabama, 11/29 Ole Miss, SEC Championship

Like I noted last week, The best case scenario is for Mississippi St. to win out and hand both Alabama and Ole Miss their second losses.

2.  Florida State – 7-0  – ACC

Key games: 10/30 – at Louisville, ACC Championship

This is a common opponent with ND, so it’ll be another tool used to gauge how the Irish stack up

3.  Auburn – 6-1 – SEC

Key games: 11/1 @ Ole Miss, 11/15, @ Georgia, 11/29 @ Alabama, SEC Championship

Auburn controls their own destiny with this schedule.  If they get thru it, they earned their way in.  Can’t do anything about that.

4. Ole Miss – 7-1 – SEC

Key games: 11/1 Auburn, 11/29 Miss St., SEC Championship

The biggest problem I had with the rankings was that there were 3 SEC teams in the top 4.  Not to take anything away from Ole Miss, but I thought the whole point of the playoff was to make it fair for everyone else.   

5. Oregon – 7-1 – Pac 12

Key games: 11/8 @ Utah, 11/29 @ Oregon State., Pac 12 Championship

I thought Oregon should be #4 just for balance purposes.  They have quality wins over Michigan state and UCLA to help their resume.

6. Alabama – 7-1 – SEC

Key games: 11/8 @ LSU, 11/15 Miss St., 11/29 Auburn, SEC Championship

Plenty of chances for them to get knocked off.  They’re playing much better lately though,

7. Texas Christian University – 6-1 – Big 12

Key games: 11/1 @ West Virginia, 11/8 Kansas State, Big 12 Championship

This team can score and have a legit shot to get into the final 4.  They have quality wins over Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, and a nailbiter loss to Baylor.

8. Michigan State – 7-1 – Big Ten

Key games: 11/8 Ohio State, Big Ten Championship

I have real issues with the Spartans being ranked over the Irish.  They don’t play a great schedule, and got smacked around by Oregon.  Their quality win is a 5 point victory over Nebraska.  They have 2 common opponenets with Notre Dame (Michigan & Purdue)  ND had more imppressive victories against both teams.

9. Kansas State – 6-1 – Big 12

Key games: 11/1 Oklahoma State, 11/8 @ TCU, 11/20 @ West Virginia, 11/6 @ Baylor, Big 12 Championship

K-State doesn’t have an easy road to the final 4.  Personally I don’t think they will remain in the top 10 by seasons end. They have a quality win against Oklahoma and lost early in the year in a close one ot Auburn.

So that is that.  It’s not easy.  The Irish still have a chance.  Obviously they need help.  The one thing they have going for them is that a lot of the teams ahead of them have to play each other.  You can only hope that they all knock each other off evenly.  If we can hope for anything, it’s Mississippi State to run the table and take out Ole Miss and Alabama.  Otherwise, the rest will have to play out week by week.  All the Irish can do is play the games they have left and win football games. 

Reach me on Twitter @GetsThruBuckner

It’s Time to Stop Playing Navy

-Kevin

Its time to take Navy off the schedule. There I said it. I have felt this way for a couple years now but after seeing the release of the first college football playoff rankings earlier tonight it finally sealed the deal for me. Before you start crying a foul, yes I know all about the history between Notre Dame and Navy. Yes I know that Navy made Notre Dame a training ground during World War Two and provided enough money to keep the university afloat. I know all about it. Its reiterated every single year when we play the Naval Academy. Ill always have a great deal of respect for the Naval Academy and what they did for Notre Dame to help it stay open in a time when many thought the school would close. But that was over 70 years ago. I know Notre Dame “owed” Navy for all their help but that debt has been paid back and than some.

Here is the thing. There is absolutely nothing gained by playing Navy anymore for Notre Dame nothing. Its actually a lose-lose situation for the Irish. As we saw tonight in the first college football playoff rankings, the selection committee was not kidding around about strength of schedule being a huge factor in who gets selected into the playoff and having Navy on the schedule is doing the Irish no favors. If Notre Dame wins, it means nothing for the season as everyone expects Notre Dame to beat Navy easily each and every season. If Notre Dame loses, its a crippling blow and in the new college football playoff system it would almost always knock Notre Dame out of the playoff picture immediately.

Now every season there are teams that are supposed to be good teams that end up not panning out which never does favors for Notre Dame. So far this season Stanford and North Carolina would easily fit the bill. Prior to the season every pundit in the country had Notre Dame’s schedule as one of the toughest in the nation. Now it looks to be the exact opposite with the Irish sitting at 6-1 but having zero wins over a top 25 win. But you can’t really blame Notre Dame for that as how other teams do is completely out of their control. Its part of college football. Perceived good teams turn out to be bad and teams that were viewed as awful turn out to be really good. However there is a huge difference between teams like Stanford, Michigan, and North Carolina and a team like Navy. The Stanford’s, Michigan’s, and North Carolina’s may have their down years or not live up to expectations that people had for them in the preseason but they normally end up bouncing back and being good teams. Take Stanford for instance. They have been very good the past few years and this season and while they have taken a step back this year, they will undoubtedly rebound in the next year or two and contend in the PAC-12. Teams like Navy however are never good and are not expected to ever be good. Sure they will pull an upset now and again or finish a season with more wins that predicted but in football terms, nobody ever views Navy as a “quality win”.

I completely understand the need to not play an entire schedule of top 25 teams. Its just not feasible or sensible to have your team run through the gauntlet. I understand the need to have “lesser teams” on the schedule. Every team does it. Its part of football. But in the new world of the College Football Playoff strength of schedule is a huge factor and there is going to be a new trend of teams adding tougher opponents in lieu of the normal “cupcakes”. Notre Dame has been known as one of those teams who doesn’t schedule FCS schools and rarely plays a full on “cupcake” team but Navy is about as close as you can get. Add in the factor of Navy’s style of play and the large amounts of injuries that it causes for their opponents defenses and there is absolutely no upside to playing Navy in the modern college football world. I’ll always be grateful for what the Naval Academy did to keep Notre Dame afloat. However whatever Notre Dame owed Navy for that gratitude has been paid back two fold. Its time to move on.

You can follow me on twitter @GoIrishGlory

A Dames View – Sink the Navy Edition

-Bree Fromage

Here is your woman’s perspective of the game coming up this weekend.  So, I don’t know anything about Notre Dame/Navy football (and I don’t plan rapping about it like an idiot), but what I do know is…

I don’t like Navy’s head coach.  He’s a whiner and a crybaby.  You would think him and that sissy, David Shaw, were brothers from another mother.  They always have something to complain about.  You are a part of the Navy!  Man up!  We know David Shaw pouts like a 3 year old who needs a nap, but that does not mean you have to act like one, too.  Seriously, I have cramps three times as bad as Navy’s football team and I don’t whine as much as….as…I don’t even know how to say his last name.  It’s like a damn Seeing Eye chart at the DMV.  Seriously, I couldn’t pass that eye test sober (Which I’m not right now…).  Look for yourself… His name does have LOL in it which makes it much easier for me to make fun of him.

navyDMV

While on the topic of cramps, I wonder what color Gatorade Brian Kelly will have at the podium for his press conference Navy week.  I kinda hope he ditches the Gatorade all together and just drinks goat’s blood.  It’s close enough to Halloween to work.

When I think of Navy and Notre Dame that the most important thing that comes to mind are the fight songs.  I love to “Shake down the thunder from the sky” and “Marching to victory,” but it’s hard to compete with the disco hit “In The Navy.”  Seriously, who wouldn’t want to sail the 7-seas or put your mind at ease?  It sounds like a wonderful vacation, which is pretty much what the Navy football team has been on.  The last time they were ranked in the top-25 after the season was in 2004 and they were only ranked 24th.  Their highest ranking ever was 2nd in both polls, which performed slightly better than their fight song which came in at #3 on the Billboard 100 in 1979.  It was actually #1 on the Canadian RPM Top Singles list, but I’m pretty sure once you convert that from the metric system to ‘Merica system it comes out to #3 again.  Looking over iTunes, the Notre Dame fight song is the song with the staying power and is ranked WAY higher than “In the navy” right now.

Staying on the number 3, let’s talk about the triple option: Vodka, Tequila and Beer.  A formidable trio of awesomeness that makes any game enjoyable.  If you drink enough, you might find Navy’s head coach cute…or you might mistake him for the goat mascot.  I know I have a few times.  It’s not that I have anything against Navy and I appreciate what they do for everyone, but let’s face it, the Notre Dame players are cuter and the type of guys you would want to have a real triple option with (Hey-Yo!).  This game will basically be the SNL version of Chris Farly (Navy) vs. Patrick Swayze (Notre Dame).  We got the moves, the looks and the skills to win this game.

https://screen.yahoo.com/chippendales-audition-204009746.html?format=embed

Well, that’s a woman’s perspective of the Navy/Notre Dame game.  I have no doubt College Gameday will be at this epic match up.  If you tally up all the above categories, pretty sure Notre Dame is going to win by 17.  By pretty sure, I’d put David Shaw’s Midol on it… I’m that confident.  Go Irish!    

The Down the Tunnel Radio Show – Bye Week Shenanigans

- Kevin

The Down the Tunnel Radio show is back as we enjoy the bye week for the Irish. This week we looked at the first half of the season and what to expect for the Irish in the second half of the year. We also discussed some Notre Dame recruiting and Justin Brent dating a porn star.

http://t.co/5eHyfLbVBf

Notre Dame Hangover – Florida State Edition

Tyler -

There simply is no way to sugarcoat it: Saturday night’s loss to Florida State was just brutal. With that said, debating whether or not the offensive pass-interference call at the end of the game was the correct call (it wasn’t) is really irrelevant because no matter what the replay tells us, it doesn’t change the outcome of the game. That’s not really that bad, though. Notre Dame is still 6-1 after 8 weeks of college football and ranked #7 in the AP poll with a legitimate opportunity to land a spot in the inaugural college football playoff. So rather than sulk about a gut wrenching loss, Notre Dame fans should focus more on what lies ahead: Notre Dame is among the elite again, and now everyone knows it.

Roughly 13.2 million people tuned in to watch the Notre Dame – Florida State match-up on Saturday night, meaning that 13.2 million people watched Notre Dame go toe-to-toe for 60 minutes with the defending national champions and the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. Not even the most notorious of Notre Dame haters could spin it negatively. Jameis Winston played lights-out in the second half, and despite his stellar performance, Florida State was still on the ropes for nearly all of the game. There was no fluke, no crazy stroke of luck, just outstanding football being played by both teams for the entire game.

I can recall times during the Weis era and even the first two years of the Brian Kelly era when I would watch teams like Alabama, LSU, and Stanford play and find myself saying “Wow, Notre Dame isn’t even close to that level of play.” And for a long time, this was true. Notre Dame scraped the surface of the elite in 2012, but they were pummeled back down to reality in the National Championship game against Alabama. A year and a half later, Notre Dame had their first real opportunity since the 2012 National Championship game to prove their prominence amongst the college football elite and this time, they delivered.

This game goes beyond the scope of the 2014 season, and Notre Dame will feel the impact of this game for years to come despite what the final score says. Recruits from across the country were tuned in to last Saturday’s match-up and Notre Dame caught the eye of a lot of the recruits who once doubted Notre Dame’s staying power. Don’t believe me? Check out Tom Loy’s page from 24/7, there you will find a plethora of positive reactions from recruits that hadn’t always showed the most interest in Notre Dame. In addition to recruits, the belief within the program that they belong amongst the elite is just going to be fueled after this loss. The players and coachers were eager to prove something again after the National Championship and while they did prove a lot, the fact that they did not bring back a win from Tallahassee is going to prevent the players from becoming content and this will continue to drive them moving forward.

Initially, the takeaway from this game from nearly every Notre Dame fan was anger and resentment against the referees. But after the hangover of the loss goes away, I’m confident that Notre Dame fans will really start to embrace the positives that came away from the team’s loss to Florida State. If nothing else, the fact that Notre Dame fans are pissed off about this loss is something in and of itself. For the first time in a very long time, Notre Dame fans aren’t just satisfied with keeping it close or almost winning. It’s no longer considered irrational for Notre Dame fans to expect a win in every single game. It’s clear after Saturday night’s game that Brian Kelly has nearly the entire fan base believing in him and the direction of this program, and that might just be the most impressive thing the head coach has done so far in his time here at Notre Dame.

For more, follow me on twitter @Twoj7.

Notre Dame’s Road to the Playoffs – Week 9

-Tom

We are merely a week away from the first ever release of the NCAA Playoff Committee’s Rankings.  The Irish hit a bump in the road this week, however, seemed to gain the respect of the pollsters even after a loss.  Notre Dame fell to #7 (AP) & #8 (USA Today) in this weeks voting.  However, it’s not a terrible drop.  They’re still in good position to secure one of the 4 spots. Granted they will need a little help, but as long as they win out, they will be strongly considered. 

I don’t know how this new system will work.  Obviously it’s at the discretion of the voters.  So just because ND is on the outside looking in with the major polls, next week they could be in the top 4, depending on how they’re viewed in those persons eyes.  Under the assumption that the Irish have a few hills to climb, I’m going to look over those teams ahead of us and figure out their road to the final 4 also.

IMG_0574.JPG

Notre Dame has a pretty favorable schedule remaining, in terms of quality of opponents and of winnable games.  As of now, two remaining opponants are in the top 25 (at Arizona State, at USC).  They also have a home game against a 6-2 Louisville team.  Louisville’s next opponent happens to be Florida State at home.  Hopefully they give a good showing, maybe pull off an upset.

Now the rest of the field

1) Mississippi State – 6-0 – AP – 1, USA Today – 1

at Kentucky
Arkansas
UT Martin
at #4 Alabama
Vanderbilt
at #3 Ole Miss
SEC Championship

The Bulldogs have 2 games against teams ranked higher then the Irish.  This bodes well for us.  If I had to cchoose, I’d rather they win out.  This will give Alabama their second loss and Ole Miss their first loss, assuming neither team loses along the way

#2 Florida State – 7-0 – AP – 2, USA Today – 2

at Louisville
Virginia
at Miami
Boston College
Florida
ACC Championship

Aside for Louisville, FSU has a pretty easy schedule.  I’m torn over this. Logically it makes sense to want the Seminoles to win out because it looks better for the Irish’s strength of schedule. It also leaves a chance for an epic rematch.

#3 Ole Miss – 7-0, AP -3, USA Today – 3

at #24 LSU
#5 Auburn
Presbyterian
at Arkansas
#1 Mississippi State
SEC Championship

Aside from a cupcake game insterted into the schedule, Ole Miss probably has to run a gauntlet to get to the final four.  If they get through this, they earned their playoff spot.  They have a phenomenal defense. Their rise to prominence makes the SEC even stronger than it was, which is scary.

#4 Alabama, 6-1, AP – 4, USA Today – 4

at Tennessee
at #24 LSU
#1 Mississippi State
Western Carolina
#5 Auburn
SEC Championship

Alabama doesn’t have a very easy road to the dance either. Although this isn’t the dominant Alabama team of the past few years, they have arguably the best coach in the nation and will be tough for whomever they play against.  Since they are one of the 1-loss teams, it would serve ND best if they lose along the way.

#5 Michigan State, 6-1, AP – 8, USA Today – 5

Michigan
#13 Ohio State
at Maryland
Rutgers
at Penn State
B1G Championship

I gotta be honest, I don’t get how the Spartans made such a leap.  It’s also odd to see such a difference in the two polls, with them being 8th in the AP and 5th in USA Today.  Also, they jumped Oregon, who rolled over them earlier in the season.  They have a rather easy schedule remaining, except for Ohio State. Problem there is that if OSU knocks them off, it will draw the Buckeyes into the playoff picture.

#6 Auburn, 5-1, AP – 5, USA Today – 6

South Carolina
at #3 Ole Miss
Texas A&M
at #9 Georgia
Samford
at #4 Alabama
SEC Championship

I can’t see Auburn getting through this stretch unblemished.  3 top 10 teams and A&M, they have their work cut out for them.  They’re battle tested though, coming off an appearance in last years title game. 

#7 Oregon, 6-1, AP – 6, USA Today – 7

at Cal
Stanford
at #19 Utah
Colorado
at Oregon State
PAC-12 Championship

Year in and year out, Oregon is consistently at the top but fails to get over the hump.  They tend to get exposed and fold in big games.  They had a bad lost agaisnt Arizona at home.  The road game against Utah and the Civil War game on the road against Oregon State are the biggest tests remaining. 

ESPN.com currently has the 4 playoff teams as Mississippi State, Florida State, Ole Miss and Alabama.  ND is 7th.  The one issue thats going to come into play is whats the point of having a playoff if there’s going to be 3 SEC teams in it.  As far as I’m concerned, if you can’t win your conference, you shouldn’t play for a national championship.  Obviously I don’t make the rules, and when it comes down to it, I can see why you’d want it more open.  SEC teams can’t help that the SEC is so damn good.  This is just one of the many questions that will start to be answered next week

Depending on how you look at it, the Irish are either at an advantage or a disadvantage in that they don’t play a conference championship.  The championship games are just another opportunity for teams to get knocked out.  On the other hand, they’re also an opportunity for bubble teams to pick up a quality win, especially in regards to the SEC. The lack of a championship game didn’t hurt Notre Dame in 2012.  But this year is a whole new ball game

There’s plenty of other teams in the picture, such as Georgia, Ohio State, Kansas State and Baylor.  I’m going to leave them out today because they’re all still behind the Irish in the polls.  Weekly I will update all of this based on how Notre Dame is standing.  Next week should be very interesting when the new rankings come out.  I’m sure there will be a lot of discussions, and as always, a lot of contreversy.  The Irish can only control what they do.  Hopefully the boys can win out, and look good while doing it, and let the people in charge do what they have to do.

Follow me on twitter @GetsThruBuckner

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