There is a buzz around Notre Dame football. Coach Kelly is about to make his first official press conference of the new season. Players report on Saturday and the first practice of the season is on Sunday. There is one question surrounding the team and everyone is asking the question, can the Irish return to the College Football Playoffs? Yes, we are talking playoff selection before the season even starts. You ask, why would you talk playoffs before the even starts? The reason is that if you don’t plan with the end in mind, you can miss the target.
The College Football Playoff selection committee chooses team’s based upon performance on the field. The committee has a “guideline and protocols” to follow. There is also a lot of talk about a team’s “resume”, what does that mean? They look at conference championships won, strength of schedule, head-to head results of and a comparison of results among common opponents. Where does this year’s schedule compare to last? Will the Irish have to find a different way to make it back to the College Football Playoffs? Yes!
The Fightin’ Irish played plenty of close games last season, but their opponents had rankings within the AP Poll. Michigan finished the season in 7th after starting 14th. Stanford was ranked 7th, they finished outside the Top 25. Virginia Tech was ranked 24th and they finished outside the Top 25 as well. Syracuse came into the Shamrock Series 12th and finished 15th.
The 2019 schedule doesn’t necessarily work to the Fightin’ Irish favor. Seven home games and five road games will be the stage for the Irish to build their resume. Currently two of the five road games feature Top 10 teams. Currently in the Amway Coaches Poll released August 1st, Georgia is ranked 3rd, and Michigan is ranked 7th. The Irish sit in the 9th spot. While rounding out the Top 25 is Stanford sitting at 23rd. There are opportunities for one more team to move into the Top 25 of the Coaches Poll like Virginia Tech and they play the Irish in Notre Dame stadium.
The above scenarios sets up a very difficult situation for the Irish to get into the College Football Playoff with strength of schedule. When strength of schedule does not play into your favor, You are probably asking yourself, what do the irish need to do? Your answer should be, the Irish are going to not just win games, but they are going to need to win games decisively. Yes, the Irish are going to have to put big points on the board in virtually every game. Beating higher ranked teams will be good for the resume, even if they are close.The Irish are going to have really demonstrate to the committee that they are worthy of the playoff discussion. Hefty points on the board on games they are supposed to win will be the “style” points the selection committee will be looking for.
Can The Irish Do It?
The answer to that question is YES! This team has great leadership on both sides of the ball. Book and his method of leadership goes beyond the offense. He is the over team leader. If there is a single guy on this team that can get the entire squad going it’s Book. On defense, Alohi Gilman is the backup of Book who is drinking the winning attitude juice. After last year’s motivational speech against USC, Gilman is the natural selection to lead the defense.
Shake Down The Thunder Sports is going to be busy over the next month. The group is planning on attending the Media Day at Culver Academy as well as following up on practices back in South Bend. There are 31 days from the kick-off against Louisville and 43 days until the kick-off in Notre Dame Stadium against New Mexico and the return of former Head Coach Bob Davie.
Let’s start the discussion. We would like to hear back from you. What do you think the path is to getting back to the College Football Playoffs?