It would be an understatement to say college football has been a whirlwind this year. For starters, teams are trying to play a full season during Covid-19. As a result of that, games have been canceled, rescheduled, moved, etc. Players have opted out of the season and some coaches have not been able to coach on the sideline due to contracting the Coronavirus. Despite the chaos that is ensuing — the season is winding down and we are inching towards the College Football Playoffs.
Before the season, if I were to tell you that Notre Dame and Clemson could play three times in one season, you may have drug tested me. Notre Dame is in a great position to make the CFP after being ranked the No.2 team by the playoff committee. To no surprise, their new in-conference foe Clemson is slated to make it as well. The Tigers are ranked No.3 and the two teams are on a collision course to meet again in the ACC title game.
This is not the first time that two top teams in the same conference are fighting for position in the CFP rankings. Since the start of the CFP in 2014, we saw this happen in 2017-2018 when Georgia and Alabama battled it out for the National Championship. In a perfect world, they do not play in the National Championship game, but crazier things have happened this year. The chances of them playing three times in the same season would be the first time that this would happen in college football history. In 1978-1979 Nebraska and Oklahoma played three times in a calendar year and Nebraska and Washington played three times in 13 months in 2010-2011.
By no stretch of the imagination, this is the strangest year in college football. From a coaching standpoint, teams were doing installs and meetings in a virtual setting and even some schools split up practice groups to minimize chances of catching the virus. To see Clemson and Notre Dame atop of the college football rankings should not come as a surprise, because they have two great coaches.
Dabo Swinney and Brian Kelly maybe two of the most despised coaches in college football, but they get the job done. Both coaches will have a valid argument for their teams to make the CFP depending on the outcome of the ACC title game.
Notre Dame defeated a Trevor Lawrence-less Clemson team on their home field Halloween weekend. Despite, Lawrence not playing Clemson, battled closely and eventually loss in overtime while starting freshman quarterback DJ Uiagalelei in a hostile environment. To some, Clemson attained a moral victory, but they still have one loss. Despite losing, they have the best loss compared to other teams vying for a playoff spot.
Since that matchup, Notre Dame has continued their run of dominance and Clemson is playing at a supremely high level as well now that Trevor Lawrence is back in the fold.
I know that quality teams such as Cincinnati, Texas A&M, and Florida are on the outside looking in, but if Clemson wins I think there is a case that the top 4 teams should remain, but with some shuffling. If Clemson beats ND, they should be the No.2 seed behind Alabama and Notre Dame should be the No.4 seed. If Notre Dame wins in the ACC Championship against Clemson then there is no chance that this will happen, but then again, who would have thought we would be wearing masks as a part of our daily garb.
2020 has been a year to remember for good and bad reasons, and a third matchup between Clemson and Notre Dame would summarize how odd, yet unique this year has been.