What makes college football and even sports in general great is the debate of it all. The sports world is based on opinion and sides can always be argued to back up your beliefs. The one thing to argue are numbers, that is where the ACC falls short.
It has become the narrative all season long to say that Notre Dame doesn’t belong . The schedule doesn’t look as daunting as it did in September and the big sticking point lately has been the comparison to Michigan in the college football rankings. Some arguments can be tossed by the wayside and some hold weight. One thing is becoming apparent this season, The ACC is hurting Notre Dame in the eyes of the college football world.
With the rotating ACC schedule Notre Dame plays gives them five ACC opponents a season. They don’t pick the opponent but they haven’t exactly been dealing with high end talent the last two seasons. In 2017, the ACC opponents Notre Dame faced went 24-24. This season is better to this point with a combined record of 27-22 but Syracuse is the only team pumping up that record. Without Syracuse that record would be 19-20.
To pile onto the ACC, both the FPI and the Sagarin rankings rank the ACC teams 16 spots lower then the committee has them. These rankings are two separate computer generated rankings that both have incredibly similar data on how the ACC fares. With legendary Virginia Tech Coach Frank Beamer on the playoff committee, you can see where a slight bias could come from. Take into consideration that the ACC is 3-10 against out of conference power five opponents this season and the puffed up rankings could make people question. So the community doesn’t respect a win over an ACC team not named Clemson. Even with the the committee ranking them higher, they just lose when they play out of conference.
I know that it is easy to say there is a bias for almost any team or conference within the committee rankings, but those numbers are hard to ignore. The ACC is struggling and it reflects on Notre Dame. It isn’t Notre Dame’s fault as they have no control over the ACC opponents it faces year to year. Now Notre Dame gets called overrated and there are talks of them not being worthy of a playoff spot.
Now when you look at Notre Dame’s schedule and the difficult games they were supposed to have, they are tough to find. Virginia Tech and Florida State were games to circle on the calendar in August, now they are merely a foot note. Wake Forest is a bad team and Pitt is solid but won’t get respect nationally. Then there is a 15th ranked Syracuse that everyone scoffs at despite their rankings.
So when looking at the big picture, the outside person can say Notre Dame doesn’t belong and as unfair as it is, the ACC is hurting Notre Dame. Notre Dame isn’t in a conference and lose a chance at a conference championship game at the end of the season. They also don’t have power over who they play in the ACC yearly. Notre Dame always schedules well but they lose half a season of scheduling to the likes of Wake Forest and UNC instead of a Michigan State.
I am firmly in the camp that Notre Dame needs to stay independent but they also need to figure out how to maintain national respect. In 2018, as crazy as it is to say, Notre Dame going undefeated still comes with questions. It isn’t Notre Dame’s fault that the ACC has been struggling the last few seasons, but now they don’t get to reap the benefits of coasting to a conference championship game.
The Irish are now stuck between the pressure of joining a conference and trying to play a grueling schedule around the scheduling of ACC play. It isn’t all bad though, Notre Dame is only locked in until 2037…
DO you like the ACC schedule or would you like to see Notre Dame move back to a fully indepenent schedule? Let us know below!
Started Saturday Tailgate in 2018. Covering all things college football and talking Notre Dame on Twitter.