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Analyzing How the 12-Team Playoff Affects the Fighting Irish

Written by Liam Farrell|Senior Staff Writer|Twitter/X: @LiamFarrell_IT

Via The Irish Tribune

From the outside, the new 12-team playoff format for college football looks to be favorable for big name schools like Notre Dame. However, with Notre Dame being one of the sole Independent teams, the rewards are not as plentiful.

First, let's look at the pros. It will be significantly easier for Notre Dame to make the playoff every year.

The 12-team format obviously opens more spots for teams to make the playoff, but it also makes the pressure of going undefeated during the regular season go away. The two times the Fighting Irish made the college football playoff, they had undefeated regular seasons.

By taking away the pressure of going undefeated, it allows for a bit of a safety blanket, even if the Irish lose a game early in the year. This past season, even if the Irish escaped with wins at Louisville and Clemson, I'm not sure their one-loss resume with the heartbreaker against Ohio State would even let them into the playoff over one-loss conference champions.

This debate about Notre Dame's strength of schedule and lack of conference championship games will also start to be diminished. The conference champion tie-ins are automatic bids within this new playoff format, and this will no longer be a criterion to hold over the heads of the conference-less Fighting Irish.

Another pro that the 12-team playoff format brings is that Notre Dame has the ability to host a home playoff game. I could already picture a snowy day in December with a packed Notre Dame Stadium shaking all South Bend. This home atmosphere is what college football should all be about.

Now, let's shift to the cons. The Irish cannot receive a first-round bye. The four bye games are tied with the top 4 conference championship winning teams. While I listed this as a pro earlier as it pertained to the Irish not competing for certain spots, it forces Notre Dame to play more postseason games.

Even though the Irish have the potential to play more postseason games, their regular season isn't shortened. During this extended season, it is imperative to stay healthy throughout the year. This is partly why the Irish went out and signed one of the top physical minds in the business, Loren Landow, during the offseason.

To make these college athletes play an extended postseason on top of the same number of regular season games puts their health at risk. In the postseason dynamic seen today, many top players sit out of their bowl games because they don't want to risk getting injured and hurting their draft stock. It should be interesting to see if the extended number of playoff teams ends this trend.

In summary, the new 12-team playoff format for college football presents both advantages and drawbacks for Notre Dame. While it offers increased opportunities for playoff contention and the potential for hosting home games, it also eliminates the possibility of a first-round bye and raises concerns about player health with an extended postseason. The format shift prompts a reevaluation of Notre Dame’s strategic approach and underscores the evolving landscape of collegiate athletics.  


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