CFP standings rerun leads to stagnant speculation regarding No. 3 Notre Dame

Eric Hansen
South Bend Tribune

ESPN rolled out a rerun of sorts on Tuesday night.

The College Football Playoff selection committee actually controlled the content for the third weekly rankings reveal, televised on ESPN. And for the first time in the five seasons of CFP rankings, the top 10 remained exactly the same from one week to the next.

That made for some unimaginative and unoriginal speculation by the network’s talking heads, especially regarding Notre Dame’s No. 3 standing for the third consecutive week.

Alabama (10-0) remained No. 1, followed by Clemson (10-0), the Irish (10-0) and Michigan (9-1), respectively. No. 5 Georgia (9-1) and No 6. Oklahoma (9-1) are the top two teams on the outside looking in.

Much of the stagnant banter that came with the static top of the rankings centered on a possible doomsday scenario of No. 5 Georgia upsetting No. 1 Alabama in the SEC title game on Dec. 1, and whether the Irish or Michigan would be the likely team to be left out of the final top four on Dec. 2.

“When you look at Notre Dame, we see a team that took care of business this week, with a backup quarterback and a strong defense,” CFP committee chairman Rob Mullens offered of ND’s 42-13 romp over Florida State this past Saturday night.

Helping the Irish résumé is Northwestern’s entrance into the CFP Top 25, at No. 22. The Irish (10-0) defeated the Wildcats, 31-21, Nov. 3 in Evanston, Ill., five weeks after No. 4 Michigan (9-1) rallied to win against Northwestern (6-4) in the same stadium, 20-17.

The other Top 25 win for ND is its 24-17 decision over the Wolverines in the season opener for both teams on Sept. 1.

The Irish get a shot at another ranked team Saturday, when they face No. 12 Syracuse (8-2) at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, N.Y.

If the season ended today, Alabama would face Michigan Dec. 29 in the Cotton Bowl at Arlington, Texas, in one playoff semifinal. Clemson and Notre Dame would clash in the Orange Bowl, Dec. 29 in Miami Gardens, Fla.

The CFP National Championship Game is set for Jan. 7 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.

Notre Dame’s Alizé Mack (86) makes a catch for a TD, defended by Florida State’s A.J. Westbrook (19), during ND’s 42-13 romp, Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium.

1. Alabama

2. Clemson

3. Notre Dame

4. Michigan

5. Georgia

6. Oklahoma

7. LSU

8. Washington State

9. West Virginia

10. Ohio State

11. UCF

12. Syracuse

13. Florida

14. Penn State

15. Texas

16. Iowa State

17. Kentucky

18. Washington

19. Utah

20. Boston College

21. Mississippi State

22. Northwestern

23. Utah State

24. Cincinnati

25. Boise State