You can go ahead and get excited about the future of Notre Dame football under new head coach Marcus Freeman but as Freeman himself said to the team when he spoke to them the first time as their head coach, “this is about right now!”.
And right now, entering college football’s championship weekend, Notre Dame has a chance at a College Football Playoff berth if things go as needed.
Friday night features a couple of games as Conference USA sees Western Kentucky battle UTSA for the league crown and Mario Cristobal may be coaching his final game at Oregon as the Ducks take on Utah in the Pac 12 championship.
There are then nine games on Saturday’s slate with four of them having a major impact on Notre Dame’s postseason destination. Here is a rooting guide for Notre Dame fans for those four games:
Very little to no impact games:
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Of the nine games scheduled for Saturday, five of them have incredibly little if not no impact whatsoever on Notre Dame’s chances at the CFP. That said, college football is still the greatest game on earth and after bowl season we’ll all be sitting around counting down weeks until play picks back up next September. Here are the other games of this weekend:
Regular season makeup game:
USC at Cal – 11:00 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1
This one is being played because COVID postponed it earlier in the year. The two teams will both enter at 4-7 and neither can make a bowl game with a win. This one truly is for the love of the game.
Championship games that make no impact on Notre Dame:
MAC: Kent State vs. Northern Illinois – 12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
Mountain West: San Diego State vs. Utah State – 3:00 p.m. ET, Fox
Sun Belt: Appalachian State vs. Louisiana – 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
ACC: Pittsburgh vs. Wake Forest – 3:00 p.m. ET, ABC
Big 12 Championship
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Big 12 Championship
No. 5 Oklahoma State (11-1) vs. No. 8 Baylor (10-2)
12:00 p.m. ET, ABC
This is a huge one for Notre Dame as the Irish fell behind Oklahoma State last week. Notre Dame fans will be rooting harder against Oklahoma State than they will be anyone else this weekend as a loss by the Cowboys would certainly move the Irish back ahead in the rankings, and Baylor would certainly remain behind with their two losses.
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No. 1 Georgia (12-0) vs. No. 3 Alabama (11-1)
4:00 p.m. ET, CBS
Georgia is in this game win or lose so Notre Dame fans need to be rooting for the Bulldogs to hand Alabama their second loss of the season and eliminate the Crimson Tide from CFP contention.
USA TODAY NETWORK
American Athletic Championship
No. 4 Cincinnati (12-0) vs. No. 21 Houston (11-1)
4:00 p.m. ET, ABC
Cincinnati holds a big key to Notre Dame’s postseason route. Even though Cincinnati has the head-to-head win over the Irish it’s hard to imagine a loss against Houston would keep the Bearcats ahead of Notre Dame. Whether that’s fair or not is another story, but Notre Dame fans should be rooting hard for a Cincinnati loss here.
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Big Ten Championship
No. 2 Michigan (11-1) vs. No. 13 Iowa (10-2)
8:00 p.m. ET, Fox
Michigan may have the most impressive win in the entire country with not just beating Ohio State but manhandling Ohio State. I’m not sold a two-loss Michigan team won’t get in but that depends what else happens. Either way, Notre Dame fans should still be rooting hard for the Hawkeyes to throw an upset.