The Notre Dame Fighting Irish head into Week 8 with a 5-1 record and a top 25 ranking. While many programs would consider this a successful season, the University of Notre Dame isn’t your average football program. It’s the playoff or bust.
Can Notre Dame reach the College Football Playoff despite their one loss? Read on to learn whether the current college football odds smile on the Irish.
A Shockingly Average Irish Team
Brian Kelly delivers wins. He’s led the Irish to the 2012 BCS Championship game and two College Football Playoff births. He also passed Knute Rockne as Notre Dame’s all-time coaching wins leader this season.
Despite their 5-1 record, this 2021 team looks average. The ND offense, led by graduate transfer Jack Coan, ranks 89th in yards per game. They’re scoring an average of 31 points.
The Notre Dame defense ranks 55th for yards per game, allowing an average of 362 yards and 24.3 points.
This average defensive play is a significant drop from last year, where the ND defense allowed only 19.7 points per game.
Live as an Independent and Die as an Independent
Should Notre Dame join a conference? Last year, the Fighting Irish joined the ACC due to COVID-19 scheduling difficulties. This year, the football program returns to its independent status.
While Notre Dame remaining independent is a point of pride and tradition, there’s no doubt it hinders their chances at a College Football Playoff birth.
The lack of a conference championship and a chance to play in a championship game hurts the Notre Dame Fighting Irish odds for a playoff birth when they’re on the bubble.
On the Outside Looking In
If Notre Dame is to make the CFP, they must first take care of their remaining schedule. They’re also going to need some luck.
Their loss to Cincinnati means they need the Bearcats to drop at least one game. They also need Big Ten chaos.
As of Week 7, the Big Ten occupies five spots in the AP Top 10. Four of those five play in the Big Ten East, and they all must play one another.
If Penn State, Michigan, Ohio State, and Michigan State cannibalize each other and one of those teams dominates Iowa in the Big Ten Championship Game, a steady Notre Dame one-loss team could sneak in.
So You’re Telling Me There’s a Chance
According to the statisticians at FiveThirtyEight, the current Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team has an 8% chance of making the playoff.
There’s a lot of NCAA football left to play, and anything can happen. But, despite the current percentages not being in their favor, Notre Dame has one thing that many other programs do not: prestige.
The truth is the media, fans, and the College Football Playoff selection committee look at Notre Dame more favorably than other teams.
Should Brian Kelly keep the team on task and they end with one loss, there’s always a chance the Irish can sneak in on their name and legacy.
Long Playoff Odds for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Notre Dame’s remaining schedule should allow them to finish the season with one loss. If they finish strong and the Big Ten log jam breaks, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish have an outside chance at a playoff birth.
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