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Notre Dame came into today’s ACC championship game against Clemson undefeated, but they got absolutely waxed. After losing 34-10, Notre Dame does not belong in the College Football Playoff. Their win over Clemson earlier this season has been invalidated. Clemson was without Trevor Lawrence in that game, and now we have a better glimpse at what the game would’ve looked like had Lawrence played.
Tonight’s game was an even bigger blowout than the final score. At one point, Clemson was up 34-3. Notre Dame scored a touchdown in garbage time when the outcome had long since been decided. Many people have made the joke that Brian Kelly was indeed serious about boycotting the playoffs if no fans could be at the Rose Bowl.
The trickier question is who DOES deserve to make the playoff. Alabama is a lock, whether or not they beat Florida tonight. Clemson is obviously in as well. You can argue about Ohio State’s merits being undefeated in just six games until you’re blue in the face. The selection committee is putting them in.
So who gets the final spot? I reckon it comes down to Texas A&M and Cincinnati. Texas A&M is 8-1 — they’ve beaten Vanderbilt, Florida, Mississippi State, Arkansas, South Carolina, LSU, Auburn, and Tennessee. Their lone loss was to Alabama, by 28 points, and if they made the playoffs that’s who they’d be playing again.
Cincinnati, in my opinion, should have a credible opportunity to sneak into the playoffs if they thrash Tulsa tonight. Cincinnati is undefeated, beat Austin Peay, Army, South Florida, SMU, Memphis, Houston, East Carolina, and UCF. While the selection committee always leans towards established Power-Five programs in their rankings, if there’s ever a time for another team to make it this would be it.
In the selection committee’s rankings this past week, Texas A&M was ranked fifth and Cincinnati ninth.
If I had to guess what the selection committee WILL do, I think they’ll pick Notre Dame and justify it with their wins over Clemson (Lawrence being out notwithstanding) and North Carolina. Notre Dame vs. Alabama would likely get better TV ratings than Texas A&M or Cincinnati vs. Alabama. But, I don’t think they deserve to be in after their performance against Clemson.