After a successful bye-week for Notre Dame, one which helped move the Irish (6-1) up two spots in the polls, it’s pretty clear that the ball has now been placed in their court. USC took down No. 3 Utah, Georgia Tech upset Florida State, Clemson destroyed Miami and our next opponent is an unexpected 7-0.
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I had serious doubts about Notre Dame’s chances at making a run at the College Football Playoffs after losing to Clemson, but the Tigers have done well enough to make themselves contenders, and the remaining schedule for the Irish is arguably one of the toughest in the nation. It starts Saturday as College Game Day visits Philadelphia for the top-25 bout. Temple hasn’t faced anything close to a perennial powerhouse like Notre Dame. They’re most convincing victories come against the likes of Tulane and, the new FBS program, Charlotte. Their highlight win of the season was in their opener against Penn State, who is 6-2 (their other loss was to Ohio State).
After Temple, Notre Dame travels to the Steel City to take on the No.23 Pittsburgh Panthers, who are led by wide receiver Tyler Boyd. The last time the Irish played the Panthers in Pittsburgh, Tommy Rees threw two interceptions in a 21-28 loss.
The next two match-ups against a struggling Wake Forest team and a 3-5 Boston College squad won’t be as difficult to get through. If Notre Dame can get past its Shamrock Series game against the Eagles unscathed, a pot
Oct 15, 2015; Stanford, CA, USA; Stanford Cardinal running back Christian McCaffrey (5) is defended by UCLA Bruins linebacker Kenny Young (42) in a NCAA football game at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
ential top-ten game against Stanford could decide its post-season fate.
No. 8 Stanford has turned their fortune around in a big way after a rocky start to the season. After six straight wins, the Cardinal are back into the playoff discussion, and with the help of arguably the nation’s best offensive weapon in Christian McCaffrey, some may say they’re an unstoppable force. Last season, Notre Dame squeaked out a victory over Stanford with a game-winning touchdown pass from former Irish Everett Golson at home. On the road, Notre Dame struggles mightily against Stanford. The last time the Irish won at Stanford was in 2007.
Best possible scenario, the Irish win out and give the committee a legitimate case for why they should be in the playoffs at 11-1. Worst case, Notre Dame has a disappointing fallout in the second half of the season similar to last season. The prime-time pressure proves to be too much for Notre Dame once again and drops the ball against Temple. The Irish lose on the road to Pittsburgh, get upset by a Boston College team with nothing to lose at Fenway, beats Wake Forest and gets sent home in devastating fashion by Stanford and McCaffrey at the end of the season.
Notre Dame controls its own destiny from here on out. Win out and you’re in.