Network Ranking - Week 9

by Patrick Rhamey

With Notre Dame continuing to chalk up impressive performances, would the College Football Playoff Committee allow a Clemson v. Notre Dame rematch?  Could a one loss Notre Dame leapfrog an undefeated TCU or Baylor?

Given the politics involved, the answer to both is probably no.  However, given how close the loss to Clemson was (22-24), a rematch has a lot of potential to be a great game.  As for the latter, given their soft Big 12 schedules, Notre Dame has a much more impressive body of work thus far this season than undefeated TCU (#12) or Baylor (#18 and the worst ranked undefeated).  Indeed, in the Network Ranking, they have the most impressive body of wins of any team, and are only second due to the negative impact of losing to Clemson.  If Clemson remains undefeated and Notre Dame wins out, I would expect that to continue to be the case regardless of the final result out of the Big 12.  Right now, the most probable outcome out of the College Football Playoff Committee is Michigan State, Iowa, or Ohio State out of the Big 10, TCU or Baylor out of the Big 12, and if they win out, LSU and Clemson.  Unfortunately, there will be good arguments to be made by Notre Dame and a possibly undefeated Memphis or Houston team, highlighting the problems of selecting four teams for a playoff on the basis of anything other than an evidence based system.  Right now, Notre Dame fans should consider themselves in the running, but they'll need some help elsewhere to survive the politics of the playoff committee.

This coming weekend, we'll get what amounts to the de facto SEC championship when LSU faces Alabama in Tuscaloosa.  At minimum, the absence of an undefeated champion from two or more power five conferences is what Notre Dame needs.  If Bama can take down the tigers, the Irish are much closer to being in the conversation.

Top 25 (Explanation; Full Ranking):

  1. Michigan State
  2. Notre Dame
  3. Clemson
  4. Iowa
  5. LSU
  6. Memphis
  7. Ohio State
  8. Alabama
  9. Florida
  10. Ole Miss
  11. Texas A&M
  12. TCU
  13. Temple
  14. Toledo
  15. Oklahoma State
  16. Penn State
  17. Houston
  18. Baylor
  19. Mississippi State
  20. Wisconsin
  21. Navy
  22. Stanford
  23. Appalachian State
  24. Northwestern
  25. Utah