Despite Better Record, Michigan Could Jump Notre Dame

Since Michigan took Penn State to the woodshed last weekend, a conversation has been started. Is Michigan better then Notre Dame and do they deserve to be ranked ahead of Notre Dame?

Personally no, I don’t think Michigan deserves the jump even after the Nittany Lion beat down Saturday. I think that Penn State is a good team, not top 15 like they were previously ranked though. Notre Dame might not have the same impressive resume that they had a few weeks ago, but it still is up there with the best of them.

Notre Dame took down Northwestern and some fans felt they played poorly but that was a very good win. Northwestern has wins against quality teams and only suffer in the rankings for early season losses to Duke and Akron.

Michigan played Northwestern a few weeks ago and only won by three. Not only did Notre Dame win, they won by 10. Despite the head to head victory and beating their only common opponent by more, people don’t seem to be impressed.

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The country doesn’t seem to respect Notre Dame and part of me understands why. Notre Dame doesn’t have a ton of blowout wins like Clemson or Michigan. Notre Dame has never been the team to run people out of the stadium in the Brian Kelly era.

But if you want to build a playoff caliber team, it would look a lot like Notre Dame. A high end defense with a strong running game and a a multifaceted QB like Ian Book. They don’t run you off the field but they went into Northwestern and took care of business. There were moments when it was close but the game never felt as close as it was.

Take a look at Oklahoma against Texas Tech last week. That was an absolute dog fight until the end. Oklahoma won in a shootout late and it could have gone either way despite the Sooners having the better players and a top three quarterback in the country. Notre Dame made a play every time they needed to. It takes a quality team to get punched in the mouth and rebound by staying calm and collected to keep the opponent at bay. The blocked punt could have been devastating, instead Notre Dame responded in the face of a major momentum shift to keep the lead and put the game away. That is the difference between a good and great team.

I have said it before, Notre Dame is easy to hate and 2012 is still fresh in the minds of Irish fans. But even more so it’s fresh in the mind of every SEC fan and fan base of any relevant team. This is a different team then 2012. (How Does This Notre Dame Team Compare to 2012)

The fans that dedicate their Saturdays know this, but the common fan or ND hater does not. As a season goes on, teams grow and get hot or fall apart for a number of reasons. It would be unfair to say Michigan hasn’t made strides to becoming a better team since week one. But to say that Notre Dame, the only team to beat Michigan, hasn’t also improved is a disservice to the fans of Notre Dame and the team itself.

Ian Book and the return of Dexter Williams have been what has changed the season. With Ian Book at QB, Notre Dame averages 17 more points a game. Notre Dame won by seven with a backup QB and a backup running back and then beat the common opponent by more. Notre Dame would beat Michigan again if they were to face again today.

But, I am going to play devil’s advocate for a second on a possible outcome.

While the head to head should matter, I have no faith in the committee to put Notre Dame in. An independent status shouldn’t hurt Notre Dame but it does kind of screw up the playoff format for those in power. Outside of Notre Dame going undefeated, the biggest game of the year will be Northwestern Michigan part two. As it was mentioned earlier, Notre Dame doesn’t blow teams out. If Michigan runs the score up in the Big Ten Championship game against Northwestern, it could cause issues.

Again, that shouldn’t hurt Notre Dame but one thing has become clear this year, like every year, it’s us against the World.

Let us know what you think below. Is an undefeated Notre Dame a lock for the playoff or is Michigan jumping them a real possibility?

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