Notre Dame supporters across the country and everyone involved with the football program in South Bend are holding their breath in the final hours leading up to the selection committee’s Playoff reveal on Sunday.
FiveThirtyEight’s updated algorithm, following Saturday’s conference championship game results, is predicting the Fighting Irish will be left out of the final four in favor of one-loss Oklahoma and Ohio State, two teams who impressed during the final weekend with double-digit wins over nationally-ranked opponents.
Based on selection committee protocol and “championships won” being a separation method when teams are grouped in a cluster, the Irish (12-0) not playing on the season’s final weekend will be detrimental to Notre Dame’s Playoff bid, the algorithm suggests.
As it stands, Notre Dame has a 62 percent to reach the Playoff, according to FiveThirtyEight’s algorithm while fifth and sixth-ranked Oklahoma and Ohio State come in at 72 percent and 66 percent, respectfully.
Everything Notre Dame didn’t want to happen did on the final day — Oklahoma covering vs. Texas, Ohio State blowing out Northwestern and Georgia generating national buzz with an epic performance in a loss to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. Questions have surfaced about Notre Dame’s overall strength of schedule down the home stretch, specifically after the Irish’s best win — Michigan — lost by three touchdowns to Ohio State.
College Football Playoff chair Rob Mullens said this week it wouldn’t hurt Notre Dame that the Irish weren’t playing for a conference title on Saturday.
“We’ve seen their resume,” Mullens said on College GameDay. “They’ve got 12 games and when the commissioner set out and created this (selection committee) protocol, there was a path for independents and the committee understands that. We reviewed the protocol last night. We’ve seen their full body of work so when it comes down to discuss, those 12 games will be against maybe somebody who has 13 games.”
Irish coach Brian Kelly believes his team has done more than enough to warrant a Playoff bid.
“I think the way we’ve played consistently to win all our games against four Top 25 teams … (we deserve it),” Kelly said after last week’s win over USC. “To win every week and the schedule that we play … we’re like an on broadway show — we open up in a city near you. L.A., New York, San Diego … travel affects some people, but it doesn’t affect this group. If you give us rest and allow us to play in a neutral site, I think we’ll play even better.”
Nate Silver, founder of FiveThirtyEight, tweeted his thoughts last week, saying: “Our college football algorithm cutely thinks that if the playoff selection committee really values conference championships, it would consider putting in both a 12-1 Ohio State and 12-1 Oklahoma ahead of 12-0 Notre Dame. I really doubt that happens in real-life, though.”