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Playoff Predictor says Notre Dame isn’t a final four lock

If Ohio State and Oklahoma both win conference championships on Saturday, there’s a chance unbeaten and third-ranked Notre Dame could be left out of the College Football Playoff, according to FiveThirtyEight’s updated algorithm.

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 could be detrimental to Notre Dame’s Playoff bid.

As it stands, Notre Dame has a 62 percent chance to reach the Playoff if Alabama, Ohio State and Oklahoma win on Saturday, all heavy favorites over their opponents heading into the SEC, Big Ten and Big 12 title games. By comparison, the Buckeyes and Sooners have 70 and 68 percent chances, respectively, to reach the final four.

Can you imagine the outrage if two one-loss conference champions reach the Playoff over Notre Dame

“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 tOSU and 12-1 Oklahoma ahead of 12-0 Notre Dame. I really doubt that happens in real-life, though,” FiveThirtyEight editor-in-chief Nate Silver tweeted on Sunday.

Assuming Clemson beats Pitt as a 24.5-point favorite, Notre Dame is a near lock if Oklahoma or Ohio State loses, according to the algorithm.

If top-ranked Alabama loses to Georgia and the Sooners and Buckeyes both win, Notre Dame’s shot at reaching the final four stands at 60 percent — compared to Ohio State (66 percent) and Oklahoma (61 percent).

Brian Kelly was asked about his team’s Playoff resume’ after Saturday’s 24-17 win at USC.

“I think the way we’ve played consistently to win all our games against four Top 25 teams … (we deserve it),” Kelly said. “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.”

Notre Dame enters the postseason without a blemish after erasing an early 10-point deficit against the Trojans.

“It was a hard-fought and tough game,” Kelly said. “USC was well-prepared. I thought Clay (Helton) did a great job of getting his football team ready. We took some shots early on and sustained some body blows and things like that and were able to get out of the first half with the game in reach. We made some adjustments and I thought we really got the game back in our hands in the second half. Defensively, we turned the tide and the flow of the game.

“I’m very, very happy and pleased with the way our guys were gritty today. There’s different ways to win a game and today they showed that. It’s hard to win 12 games. There’s so many things out there than can distract not only kids, but coaches. I’m just really, really pleased with our team and everyone associated with it. Those are kind of my feelings about our team and the game in general. Twelve wins is hard to do.”



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