The Notre Dame Fighting Irish avoided a complete embarrassment at home versus the Pittsburgh Panthers, keeping their College Football Playoff hopes alive.
Through the first several weeks of the 2018 college football season, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish have been one of the best teams in the land. After putting in Ian Book at quarterback over Brandon Wimbush, the Fighting Irish have become an absolute juggernaut. However, they were nearly upset on Saturday at home by the ACC’s Pittsburgh Panthers.
That would have been a loss that might have ruined Notre Dame’s promising season. For the first time in the College Football Playoff era, the Fighting Irish look to be good enough to make the final four in the national landscape. Struggling on offense in a losing effort at home versus a so-so ACC Coastal team might have turned the Selection Committee off Notre Dame entirely.
Fortunately for the Fighting Irish, they were able to get a fourth-quarter touchdown to overtake the Panthers at home, 19-14 on Saturday. The Fighting Irish faithful can breathe easy now. Whew! They move to 7-0 on the year and 5-0 at home.
So why would a narrow defeat at home be the end of the world for Notre Dame this year? Keep in mind that they are a national independent, meaning they don’t play in a conference and would only have 12 games on their résumé come time for the Selection Committee to pick the New Year’s Six bowl games.
No, it hasn’t always been pretty for the Fighting Irish this year, but they are doing their part surviving and advancing. Would a one-loss Notre Dame team make the Playoff? Probably not, but an undefeated one should absolutely take the spot of a one-loss Power 5 conference champion.
Through the first seven weeks of the season, Notre Dame looks to be at the very least as good as they were when they played for the national title in 2012 versus the Alabama Crimson Tide. Frankly, this year’s Fighting Irish team might be as good as some of the better teams that Lou Holtz coached back in the 1980s.
For a Playoff hopeful team like Notre Dame, sometimes you have to win ugly. That would be the best way to define today’s effort versus Pittsburgh at home. Notre Dame has already played the toughest part of its schedule. It’s ACC-heavy schedule doesn’t seem as daunting as it did to start the year. Notre Dame did what it needed to do to get a win at home versus Pittsburgh. That’s enough to keep the College Football Playoff dream alive for the Golden Domers.