The first official College Football Playoff rankings have been announced and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish have been placed at #4.
And according to the ESPN’s College Football Playoff Predictor, they currently have a 65 percent chance of making the playoffs, an 18 percent to make the championship, and a five percent chance to win it all.
2018 is the fifth year of the current playoff system and Notre Dame is in the top 5 for the third time in the last 4 years. Of course, as Irish fans know, the previous couple times did not pan out well as they wound up dropping a November road match up (or two for that matter).
The Irish remaining four games read like this;
11/3 @ Northwestern
11/10 vs Florida St.
11/17 vs #22 Syracuse at Yankee Stadium
11/24 @ USC
Two road games against unranked, but no cupcake opponents. After nine weeks of play, Brian Kelly’s team has not played the toughest schedule by any means, but the Irish played well enough to have earned it’s #4 ranking.
Their lone victory against a ranked team so far this season came in week one at home when they beat its rival, the #5 ranked Michigan Wolverines in South Bend. Of course, something that makes that victory stand out, even more, is that the Irish won with their now backup quarterback and number two running back.
But Notre Dame does have an upcoming game against a ranked opponent, taking on the Syracuse Orange at Yankee Stadium. It would be hard to argue that this is not the team’s most challenging game on their remaining schedule.
And that’s not to count out any of these other matchups (with the exception of Florida State maybe).
Northwestern played the aforementioned No. 5 Michigan Wolverines tough in the Big House back in September. The Wildcats lead by 10 at the half, but fell in the end, 20-17.
So that could easily be a trap game that the Irish should not take for granted.
Also Northwestern has upset the Irish in their last two matchups, including a wild game back in 2014.
And of course, you can never overlook their rival USC, whether they are ranked or not.
Notre Dame has not won on the road against the Trojans since 2012.
A perfect example of how tough an unranked USC team could play an undefeated Notre Dame team.
What is really going to be the difference maker here is if the Irish can stay healthy.