Two strikes and you’re out for Oklahoma and Notre Dame

By Ryan Decker

Oklahoma and Notre Dame had similar hopes heading into the 2016 season.

Both ranked inside the Top 10 of the AP Poll heading into Week 1 with the expectations of making the College Football Playoff and competing for a national championship.

The Sooners and Fighting Irish both have good mobile quarterbacks, experienced and proven head coaches, and rich tradition.

One other thing that both teams had in common was a tough slate of games to open up the season.

For Oklahoma, it was a neutral site game against up and coming Houston in Week 1, and then a marquee matchup in Week 3 against an Ohio State team with similar hopes and dreams.

For Notre Dame, a primetime game on a Sunday night in Austin against the Texas Longhorns, and then the most recent chapter in the history of the Michigan State/Notre Dame rivalry in South Bend two days ago.

All four games big-time contests early in the season that the Sooners and Irish were hoping they could use to pad their résumés for the postseason.

All four games, though, resulted in losses for Oklahoma and Notre Dame.

The Sooners looked flat out bad in their losses to Houston and Ohio State, and the Irish got outscored by Texas and outmuscled by Sparty.

Notre Dame: 1-2 after three games.

Oklahoma: 1-2 after three games.

You know what else these two teams have in common? They’re both out of the playoff hunt.

Reactions when you wake up and you’re out of the running for a National Championship.   Graphic created by Ryan Decker

A two-loss team hasn’t won the National Championship since LSU did so at the end of the 2007 season. Before that, you have to go all the way back to 1960 to find a team that accomplished the feat. Minnesota was deemed national champ that year.

It doesn’t happen often.

In fact, 1960 and 2007 are the only times in NCAA history that the outright champ has had more than one loss.

So, sure we’re only three weeks in and it’s already been a crazy year, filled with upsets.

Despite the upsets, though, there have been enough teams showing dominance, or at least the ability to avoid the upsets, thus far to make it a near certainty that that we won’t be adding 2016 to the list.

Alabama still reigns supreme as the top team in the nation. Ohio State, Louisville, Michigan, Clemson and Houston are all 3-0. Michigan State and Stanford at 2-0 are still, obviously, very much in the hunt for a playoff spot.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma fell to No. 25 in the AP poll and out of the rankings in the Coaches poll, and Notre Dame is unranked in both polls for the first time since the end of the 2014 season.

Things don’t get much easier for each team, either.

Notre Dame has games against ranked opponents Stanford and Miami remaining, and end the season on the road against USC in what will be a hard fought game.

Oklahoma, with a defense has been average at best and an offense that thus far hasn’t shown that it will be able to keep up with other Big 12 offenses, still has at least two games against ranked opponents remaining on its schedule. Road games against TCU, Texas Tech and West Virginia will also prove to be tough for the Sooners.

Maybe there really is something to Oklahoma’s string of misfortune during years in which they were ranked highly during the preseason. Maybe Brian Kelly isn’t destined to bring a championship to Notre Dame.

One thing is for certain though, neither the Fighting Irish nor the Sooners, or any other team that gets to two losses this season, will be hoisting the National Championship trophy at season’s end.

But, hey, there’s always next year.




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