Can Notre Dame edge out SEC team?

The glare of the Golden Dome can be blinding, even from SEC locales.

So we'll get this out there from the top: I'm not blinded, just realistic.

Notre Dame has the most compelling case to bump a one-loss SEC team that doesn't win the league title when the College Football Playoff selection committee unveils its final picks on Dec. 7.

And the way the Irish played Saturday night in a down-to-the-wire (err, down-to-the-official's-call) 31-27 loss on the road to Florida State, they should be a serious threat.

Notre Dame still has some work to do to make this more than just lively conversation, but it's clear that Brian Kelly's club is for real.

I know what's coming next from SEC junkies: The last time Notre Dame tangled with an SEC foe, it had all the drama of Mariano Rivera coming in to pitch the final inning of the Little League World Series.

Alabama obliterated Notre Dame 42-14 two years ago in the BCS National Championship. That Notre Dame team, too, had navigated its way unscathed through a schedule full of big names before stepping in over its head against the Crimson Tide.

That was then, though, and this is now. All that's supposed to matter is a team's body of work this season.

But we're entering a brand-new world with a selection committee, and that element could be a game-changer. Computers aren't making these decisions. Humans are.

For the sake of argument, let's just say it came down to a one-loss Alabama and a one-loss Notre Dame for that fourth and final playoff spot. Is it realistic to think that carnage in Miami two years ago wouldn't at least creep into the minds of some of those committee members?

The eye test can be very subjective when everything else seems comparable.

I can already hear the huffing and puffing in Tuscaloosa, Alabama; Auburn, Alabama; Oxford, Mississippi; and Starkville, Mississippi, at the mere suggestion that Notre Dame could be the team that keeps the SEC from getting two teams into the inaugural playoff.

But it's a lot more realistic than anybody in those venues might want to believe, especially given the way the Irish played on the road against the Seminoles.

Another benefit Notre Dame will have since the demise of the BCS' cold, just-the-facts computer rankings: The Irish scored what appeared to be the game-winning touchdown, only to have it taken off the board by an official's call that Kelly characterized as rewarding the Seminoles for a blown coverage. Also, a Florida State player, cornerback P.J. Williams, took his helmet off on the field right after the nullified touchdown, but no flag was thrown.

If that's the only loss on Notre Dame's résumé at the end of the season, it's a résumé that will be difficult to ignore.

The Irish still have to play at No. 14 Arizona State on Nov. 8 and at No. 20 USC on Nov. 29. Winning both of those games on the road would be huge, particularly if one of those opponents goes on to win the Pac-12's South Division.

The most favorable scenario for Notre Dame, in terms of trumping a one-loss SEC team for a playoff spot, would be for Auburn to lose again. The Tigers already own a win at No. 11 Kansas State, a win that's looking better by the week. And if Auburn were to win at Ole Miss, at Georgia and at Alabama -- and get squeezed out of the SEC championship game -- the Tigers would still be a lock for the playoff.

Nobody else in the country could match their résumé.

It goes without saying that Notre Dame needs Florida State to keep winning and be unbeaten come selection time. It would also help the Irish if Stanford bounced back and finished strong. Notre Dame beat the Cardinal 17-14 earlier this month, but the Cardinal have now lost three games.

There's also the chance the SEC West could beat up on itself the rest of the way and that everybody in that division could finish with two losses. At this point, we know that all but one SEC team will have at least one loss coming out of the conference championship game.

When you start stacking up quality wins, assuming Notre Dame can take care of its business the rest of the way, that's when it could really get interesting.

But consider this potential scenario: The committee's next-to-last ranking will come out the Tuesday before the SEC championship game (Dec. 2). By then, Notre Dame would have played its final game, as would have a one-loss SEC team that didn't make it into the SEC championship game.

You'd have to think if Notre Dame were No. 4 in those next-to-last rankings and the SEC team were No. 5 (or vice versa) that there wouldn't be anything on conference championship Saturday that would reverse the order when the final rankings come out that next Tuesday.

A lot to digest, for sure. But it makes for fascinating debate, and with actual humans making the call, at least we won't have to hear about how the system got it wrong and is biased, like fans said in the BCS days.

If you believe that, I have four tickets on the 50-yard line to the Iron Bowl and Egg Bowl that I'll sell you for half price.