Notre Dame Head Coach Brian Kelly may not say it out loud, but he knows what a win Saturday could do for his program. There is no other way around it, a win over rival USC, and the pundits start talking playoffs for his Fighting Irish team.
How could they not? If the Irish pull off the victory, at home, under the lights, they will have beaten two ranked teams through seven games, only falling to the now number three team in the country the Georgia Bulldogs. I am one of those “a close loss to a good team, is as good as a close win over a bad team” guys, and goodness how good does that one point loss to Georgia look right now?
Combine the one point loss, with the fact that the Irish are in the top 50 in total defense and total offense, including the 6th ranked rushing offense in the country, there is a whole lot to like about this Irish team. Which is pretty incredible considering they had only four wins just a year ago.
So let’s say the Irish win Saturday, it’s close, but they win. Where does that put the Irish going forward? Are they a fringe playoff team, or legitimate title threat? I believe it puts them in the latter, say what you want, outside of Alabama, has anyone looked unbeatable?
We could play the what if game, “What if Notre Dame beat Georgia”, but I wont. I’m not saying that a good loss is better then a bad win. I’m saying a one point loss, to a top-5 team, does sway opinion. Especially if they run the table (I’m not saying they will either).
I do believe the Irish stumble again, and I think it will be another close one, but that should not damper the excitement on the possibility that the Irish COULD run the table. They have a gauntlet left, but no one team that they face the rest of the season looks unbeatable.
So while a victory over the Trojans of USC would not make the season, it would go a long way in setting the tone for the rest of the it. Does a loss put Brian Kelly back on the hot seat? Does a win over USC vault the Irish into playoff territory? Only time will tell, but I will say this, if they win, the rest of 2017 could get very interesting for the Irish!
And it starts Saturday.