ND is the Rodney Dangerfield of the CFP, no doubt.
First there’s the arguments that ND shouldn’t be in at all (See my WAH WAH BABY WAH post), which thankfully the committee outright ignored.
But now the pundits, and Vegas, have ND losing almost to a man, and our beloved Irish are -11 to -12. Seriously? That’s absurd. Let’s evaluate the ND vs Clemson matchup in a few different ways to see how this makes any sense (spoiler: it does not).
Record this Season
Both undefeated. Clemson 13-0 but with Furman and GA Southern BS High School games in there. ND 12-0 playing all real teams. Winner? Tie. Maybe with an Edge to ND. But fine, Tie.
Record Last 2 Seasons
ND has had a similar couple years to Clemson. Both teams were undefeated this year, Clemson went 12-2 last year, and ND went 10-3. So over 2 years the records are very similar 25-2 vs 22-3. Sure, Clemson has a small edge but ND is clearly one of the better teams over the past 2 seasons, and ND didn’t play freaking Furman. Winner? Clemson Edge.
ND and Clemson played some matching opponents this season, and things happened.
Syracuse: ND trounced ‘Cuse, and Clemson snuck by with a win by 3. ND big time.
FSU: ND crushed FSU, as did Clemson. Tie.
Pitt: ND squeaked by Pitt, Clemson whomped them. Clemson big time.
Wake: ND handled Wake pretty easily, Clemson destroyed them. Clemson Edge.
Overall Same Opponents is an edge to Clemson, but it’s a lot closer than I think folks realize.
The numbers can help us form a story here as well. Let’s compare on a few Key Metrics shall we?
ND SOS: 42 Clemson SOS: 48 Winner? ND
ND SOR: 3 Clemson SOR: 2 Winner? Tie (seriously, 1 spot? Tie)
ND Offense FPI: 19 Clemson: 4 Winner? Clemson
ND Defense FPI: 11 Clemson: 1 Winner? Clemson
As you can see, it’s not all roses for Notre Dame, but this isn’t some landslide in the metrics portion of the evaluation either. I’d say this puts the teams fairly close. Overall Winner? Clemson Edge, but it’s close.
We all know how that game played out. ND played Clemson SO tight, despite a lot of change and concern going into the game. In the monsoon the Irish took the eventual National Champ to the wire, and fell just a couple yards and a couple points short. Play that game 10 times and the Irish win 5. Winner? Tie.
So, let’s do a quick recap here:
Record Last 2: Clemson Edge but barely
Same Opponents: Clemson Edge but barely
Stats: Clemson Edge
Last Matchup: Tie
So sure, Clemson has a tiny edge. 3.5 points as the spread? Sure. 4? Maybe. But -11 is just plain nuts. 1 of 4 pundits picking the Irish? Okay. None? BS. There’s no respect.
My call: ND Wins 34-30.