We all know enough to pull for Notre Dame each week. Right? There are those in the fan base who don’t, but hey, if that’s your jam, man, have at it, and just don’t read the rest of this. What about all the other stuff that could go down that would help Notre Dame’s playoff chances? Now that we’re down to a reasonable number of variables in the playoff picture, we provide you with the Official 18S Pocket-Sized* Week 11 Rooting Guide for all of college football. There’s obvious stuff, like ND wins and its opponents win, but there’s less obvious stuff that would be helpful too. When you sit down to watch the weekend’s games, keep this guide close by so you’ll know how you should try to influence each game just via caring.
* Assuming your laptop folds into eighths. I also assume nobody has some sort of wizard-y pocket sized electronic device capable of connecting to the internet. That would be weird.
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Note that all times below are Eastern, because as Chris Petersen can tell you, everybody hates the West Coast.
- Stanford (+6) vs. #9 Washington, 10:30 PM, FS1: Any slim hope we have of Stanford counting as a quality win requires them to beat Washington. More importantly, a Stanford win would also knock the Pac 12 out of playoff contention, as Washington is the last conference team left with fewer than two losses. NB: The Shaw Exception allows you to root for Washington to stomp the ever-living daylights out of them anyway.
- #12 Michigan State (+15!) at #13 Ohio State, Noon, Fox: This is a tricky situation. A Michigan State win would burnish Notre Dame’s resume, but an Ohio State win would place them in the Big Ten title game where they presumably would have a better chance to knock off Wisconsin than Sparty would. Presumably. There are pros and cons to either side, so feel free to root either way in this one. Me, I’m hoping Urbie “enjoys” some hot Papa John’s after the final whistle.
- #23 NC State (-3) at Boston College, Noon, ABC/ESPN2: While both are Irish opponents, it’s clearly more helpful to Notre Dame if NC State wins and stays in the top 25. Let’s hope Doeren can set aside his obsession over who ate the strawberry ice cream long enough to build a quality game plan.
- #17 Virginia Tech (-3) at Georgia Tech, 12:20 PM, ACCN: Only of marginal importance for Notre Dame, but it would be nice if the Hokies can uphold the quality of Miami’s win over them to in turn uphold the quality of Notre Dame’s forthcoming beatdown of Miami. The power of positive thinking.
- Wake Forest (+1) at Syracuse, 3:00 PM, ACCN: A Wake Forest win would be a significant step towards finishing with a winning record. That’s important, since the committee looks at wins over teams with a winning record.
- #1 Georgia (-2.5) at #10 Auburn, 3:30 PM, CBS: This is another fuzzy one. Preserving the Georgia game as “the best possible loss” is a positive, but if you’re concerned about the SEC getting two teams into the playoffs (the 18S staff is divided on that), an Auburn win is very helpful. Georgia already clinched the SEC East; if they drop one to Auburn or, ahem, Kentucky, a loss in the SEC championship game would definitely knock them out of the playoff. Auburn already has two losses, incidentally, so they’re not a serious playoff risk.
- Florida State (+17) at #4 Clemson, 3:30 PM, ESPN: Soooo… Technically speaking, it would be better for Notre Dame if Clemson drops this game, as it would remove them from playoff contention and give NC State sole possession of the division lead. However, I can never fault anyone for not rooting for Florida State. I certainly won’t be rooting for them.
- #20 Iowa (+12.5) at #8 Wisconsin, 3:30 PM, ABC: Put an asterisk next to this one, as an Iowa win would all but kill the Big Ten’s playoff hopes. Nobody from the East will make the playoffs at this point, and given their pathetic schedule, a one-loss conference champ Wisconsin won’t either.
- Maryland (+16.5) vs. Michigan, 3:30 PM, BTN: You know why.
- #11 USC (-13.5) at Colorado, 4:00 PM, Fox: USC can wrap up the Pac 12 South with a win against the morbid Buffs, which does two good things: They’ll probably move into the top ten through normal attrition and become an even higher-quality win for Notre Dame, and they have the best shot of anyone in the South at knocking off Washington in the conference title game. For some reason I have nowhere near as much difficulty with rooting for USC as I do with Ohio State or Florida State. Hm.
- #16 Mississippi State (+14) vs. #2 Alabama, 7:00 PM, ESPN: Unlike the other high-profile SEC game this week, there’s no question about what’s best for Notre Dame here. An Alabama loss would push them out of the top four temporarily at least, and would ensure that they would be left out if they lose the SEC championship game.
- #6 TCU (+6.5) at #5 Oklahoma, 8:00 PM, Fox: This is sort of a no-win game for Irish fans, but also a no-lose. The loser will pick up a second loss and be out of playoff contention, so that’s a good thing. The winner, however, will gain a high-quality win and a clear path to the Big 12 title game, where they’ll get another shot at a high-quality win. It’s marginally better for TCU to win, as Oklahoma already has two quality wins (#13 Ohio State and #15 Oklahoma State) and TCU has just one (#15 Oklahoma State). The Big 12 title game will likely be a rematch of this one, which seems unfair to the winner; on the other hand, the Big 12 made its own bed by forcing a conference title game without divisions.