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Notre Dame Football Poll Watch: Beware the Human Element

Before we all get carried away, let’s remember that the College Football Playoff committee that could determine the fate of Notre Dame football is a room full of human beings.

The bye week could not have worked out better for Notre Dame football on paper. Ohio State lost, Michigan won, and the Irish appear to still control their own destiny as far as punching a ticket to the College Football Playoff.

That said, even if Notre Dame wins out, nothing is guaranteed. We are already seeing some shenanigans from the pollsters and some of the biggest talking heads in the industry.

After the Purdue upset of Ohio State on Saturday, Kirk Herbstreit announced to the nation that his top four was Alabama at No. 1, Clemson at No. 2, LSU at No. 3 and then Notre Dame at No. 4. Apparently in his eyes, Notre Dame’s close wins and victory over currently fifth-ranked Michigan are not enough to trump LSU’s perceived strength of schedule and “quality loss” against Florida.

Will the playoff committee see it Herbstreit’s way? Additionally — and yes, I’m getting ahead of myself — how much will Notre Dame’s head-to-head win over Michigan on opening weekend matter if the Wolverines win out and win the Big Ten Championship game?

For one, you’d like to think the loser of Alabama and LSU would permanently fall below an unbeaten Irish team — especially if it’s LSU suffering a second loss of the season. But again, we have the human element to worry about.

What really scares me is what happened to UCF in the polls over the weekend. Now, think what you will about UCF’s strength of schedule and supposed lack of competition, but you tell me if this sounds right. Central Florida started the weekend at No. 10 in the AP poll, traveled to East Carolina, were without quarterback McKenzie Milton and still came away with a 37-10 win. Despite those facts, the Florida Gators — who were on a bye week — leapfrogged them in the polls.

That’s right. The AP voters collectively thought that UCF’s short-handed road win was not as impressive at the Florida Gators hanging out on campus all weekend.

Again, it’s that human element, and don’t think for two seconds that the people sitting in the College Football Playoff committee selection room are any less likely to execute similar tomfoolery when it comes to their own poll.

Next: Notre Dame’s best team performance of 2018

Yes, it would appear that all Notre Dame needs to do is win the last five games of the season — all of which they will be favored in — to punch a ticket to the College Football Playoff. But there is a pattern of “what-the-hell?” going on around the media and pollster world that leaves a shadow of a doubt.

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