Notre Dame is undefeated and ranked No. 5 in the country ahead of their game against Pitt on Saturday. Given the upcoming slate the Irish have, the team is a trendy pick to eventually make the College Football Playoff if they win out — a real possibility given there are no ranked teams remaining on the slate.
However, there are still obstacles and stumbling blocks out there, including at least five Power Five conference champions (and maybe a few others) that will think they, too, will be occupying a spot in the final four. Despite that fact that Notre Dame will be sitting at home on the final week of the season when conference title games are everybody’s focus, the school’s leadership is not fretting too much about getting left out in the cold even if they prove to be one of the best teams in the end.
“I have enormous confidence in the selection committee and the process,” athletic director Jack Swarbrick told CBS Sports. “What the prior years have demonstrated is they’re focused on the cardinal rule: Identify the four best teams.”
Interestingly, a lot of debate over the potential inclusion of the Irish has centered on the fact that the team, as a football independent, will not play a conference title game for a 13th data point on the season. While that is an opportunity to lose a game against a good team, it’s also a chance they can add to their resume and the possibility of strengthening the schedule even further is something that Swarbrick is open to provided NCAA rules change in the near future.
“We’d be happy to play a 13th game,” he said. “There’s only one [other] school (BYU) that’s told they can’t play a 13th game. We would love to do it.”
Teams are normally limited to a 12 game regular season schedule and then a conference title game appearance if they qualify. Teams are also permitted to play a 13th regular season game if they have scheduled a game at Hawaii. While it does not seem that Swarbrick is going to start putting the Rainbow Warriors on the docket every season going forward, it does sound as though he’s given some thought to getting creative to keep Notre Dame on a level playing field with some of their Power Five peers by the time the CFP Selection Committee starts to break things down.
During this current college football season, three of the surest things are upsets, Rutgers continuing to embarrass the Big Ten and oddsmakers really loving the defending national champions in general and one of its players specifically.
Bovada.lv has released its latest set of odds to win the 2018 College Football Playoff championship, with Alabama yet again the overwhelming favorite to claim the title at 1/2. Those odds are a bit shorter than the 5/9 the Crimson Tide was at just a week ago.
Clemson and Notre Dame both saw their odds shorten as well, with the former going from 13/2 to 5/1 and the latter from 19/2 to 13/2. Ohio State, meanwhile, fell from 7/1 to 12/1, the same as rival Michigan. The Wolverines, coming off a big road win over Michigan State, were also at 12/1 last week at this time.
Individually, Tua Tagovailoa saw his stranglehold on the odds to win the 2018 Heisman Trophy increase. A week ago, the Alabama quarterback was at 2/3; he’s now at 4/11.
Tagovailoa’s two main competitors saw their odds lengthen, with Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray at 7/2 (3/1 a week ago) and Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins at 12/1 (3/1).
The biggest climber has been Michigan’s Shea Patterson, with the quarterback going from off the board last week to 12/1 and behind only Tagovailoa and Murray.
Below are the complete set of national championship and Heisman odds, again courtesy of Bovada.lv:
Right or wrong (mostly the latter), LSU will be missing a significant piece of its defense for the first half of its huge Week 9 matchup with Alabama.
In the second half of LSU’s win over Mississippi State this past Saturday, Devin White was ejected after being called for targeting on MSU quarterback Nick Fitzgerald. As a result, White, one of the top linebackers in the country, would be in line to miss the first two quarters of next Saturday’s game against the Crimson Tide.
The subsequent outrage over what was, at best, an asinine targeting call — a call that was inexplicably upheld upon further review — led to a GoFundMe page being created to funnel donations toward billboards that would be erected in and around SEC headquarters in Birmingham, Ala. Those billboards would’ve carried the hashtag #FreeDevinWhite, an attempt to get the conference to bend to public pressure and rescind the half-game suspension.
Additionally, LSU athletic director Joe Alleva very publicly looked to put pressure on the SEC to reverse what was seemingly an irreversible punishment. In the end, we’re right back where we were three days ago — White will be watching from the sidelines when the LSU-Alabama game kicks off and will continue doing so until the second half kicks off.
“Discussions with the SEC made clear there is no process for appeal,” LSU senior associate athletic director Robert Munson told the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “The suspension will stand.”
White currently leads the Tigers in tackles with 76, and is tied for second on the team in tackles for loss with seven. Additionally, he leads the team with six quarterback hits and two fumble recoveries. His four pass breakups are tied for second as well, while his four passes defensed are tied for fourth.
For the second time in less than a week, Michigan has lost a four-star member of its 2017 recruiting class.
Amidst speculation regarding James Hudson‘s future with the football program, a U-M spokesperson has confirmed that the offensive tackle has decided to transfer from the Wolverines. The move away from Ann Arbor comes a couple of days after Hudson, the No. 2 right tackle, did not enter the win over Michigan State when starter Juwann Bushell-Beatty went out with an injury.
Instead, redshirt freshman Andrew Stueber took over on the right side of the line. After the game, Jim Harbaugh explained that Hudson has been dealing with a dislocated finger sustained the week before and that’s the reason Stueber entered the game.
That turn of events was also the likely trigger for Hudson’s decision to transfer.
A four-star member of the Wolverines’ recruiting class last year, Hudson was rated as the No. 13 defensive tackle in the country and the No. 9 player at any position in the state of Ohio. Only one other defensive tackle in that class, Aubrey Solomon, was rated higher than Hudson, although he was moved to the other side of the ball this offseason.
After redshirting as a true freshman, Hudson played in three games this season.
In the middle of last week, another four-star 2017 signee, linebacker Drew Singleton, asked for and was granted a release from his U-M scholarship.
A coach’s decision had kept Trelon Smith on the sidelines for the first half or so of the 2018 season. A player’s decision, in concert with the football program, will now keep the running back sidelined permanently, at least at Arizona State.
Both 247Sports.com and the Arizona Republic have reported that Smith has decided to transfer from the Sun Devils. The former website tweeted that Smith is “no longer a part of the team… [after] a mutual agreement [was reached],” while the latter wrote that “Smith and the ASU football program are parting ways” for unspecified reasons.
Smith did not play the first three games this season because of a coach’s decision/violation of unspecified team rules.
Smith was a three-star 2017 signee who played in nine games as a true freshman, carrying the ball just once for four yards. This season, after climbing out of his head coach’s doghouse, he carried the ball 11 times for 56 yards. Eight of those attempts and 45 of the yards came in his first game back, a loss to Washington Sept. 22.
Because he played in just four games and hasn’t yet used his redshirt, he’ll be able to keep a year of eligibility thanks to the new NCAA rule that has played a significant role in roster attrition this season. Including next season, Smith will have three years of eligibility at his disposal.