Notre Dame football is not getting much love nationally right now.
Three of the four undefeated teams in college football made the four team College Football Playoff. Notre Dame football is one of those teams, and they drew Clemson — the undefeated, and modern giant of the ACC.
It seems, up against a Clemson team which has positioned itself as the team that Alabama fears most, Notre Dame should be outmatched. That’s what all the experts think, at least.
Brian Kinchen of ESPN said that Georgia should be the 2 seed, and Notre Dame should be on the outside looking in. CBSsports.com says that Notre Dame is an 11.5 point underdog to the Clemson Tigers. Oddshark concurs. ESPN’s FPI says that there is only a 28.6% chance that Notre Dame wins.
So, I ask, what is with the disrespect that Notre Dame is facing?
Is Notre Dame not an unbeaten team? Does Notre Dame not play twelve FBS teams, and never a FCS team to round out their schedule? Has Notre Dame not, for the most part, dominated in their wins? Has Notre Dame not figured out their offensive woes from early this season? Does Notre Dame not have a better win than Clemson does (Michigan)?
Statistically, Clemson does score a little bit more, and gain a bit more than Notre Dame does per game. It is undeniable that outside of the Syracuse game, Clemson has looked more impressive than Notre Dame.
In what world, however, does that mean Notre Dame should be double digit underdogs?
When Notre Dame and Clemson meet, Clemson will trot out a freshman quarterback to take on the Irish defense. He’s never seen a stage that approaches this scale. He will struggle.
Additionally, in a world where strength of schedule matters so much, why does no one care that Clemson has a worse strength of schedule than Notre Dame?
Furthermore, a large part of the slight discrepancy in offensive stats is that Dexter Williams and Ian Book did not start the season for Notre Dame at running back and quarterback respectively. This messed with their averages right from the beginning of the season.
And I don’t want to hear that Trevor Lawrence wasn’t the Clemson starter for their first four games — he played a ton in those matchups.
At the end of the day, maybe Clemson should be favored, and maybe they do have the better coach, and maybe they have more experience. However, people are acting like Notre Dame is a nobody. I feel that people are remembering the disaster against Alabama from six years ago. People comparing Notre Dame to Michigan State, when they made the playoff, and saying, “They’re not athletic enough.”
There is a preexisting bias against Notre Dame, the same way there is one against the Yankees. People want to find their flaws. This Notre Dame team is more athletic and talented than they’re being given credit for.
Notre Dame is an undefeated, traditional power and people are rolling their eyes at them. So, is this what we’ve come to? Only the two best SEC teams plus Clemson are given a shot to win it all?