Selection Sunday has come and gone in the world of college football, with the playoffs and the New Year’s Six officially set. Did the committee get the CFB playoffs seedings right?
Committee gets it easy as the four teams become obvious
Every year during Championship Week, we look for, or sometimes even expect, chaos to happen, and give the selection committee a tough decision to make. That was not the case this season.
LSU easily handled Georgia, 37-10, to win the SEC championship. Ohio State rallied in the second half, after being down 21-7 at halftime, to defeat Wisconsin, 34-21 in the Big Ten title. Clemson blasted Virginia, 62-17, to win their fifth straight ACC championship. Oklahoma needed overtime, but ultimately knocked off Baylor for a second time, 30-23, to win another Big 12 championship.
The only other result that would have made things interesting was if Utah defeated Oregon in the Pac-12 championship. The Utes looked like they were playing a preseason game, as Oregon easily took care of business, 37-15. That not only knocked Utah possibly out of the playoffs, but it took them out of the New Year’s Six completely. They landed at number 11 in the final rankings and were beat out by Penn State for the last spot in the group, sending the Nittany Lions to the Cotton Bowl and the Utes to the Alamo Bowl.
As it turned out, it was Georgia in the debate with Oklahoma for the final spot in the playoffs, with Oregon jumping up to number six.
All the talk Saturday night was about how Oregon potentially cost themselves a spot in the playoffs by scheduling Auburn. Yes, Oregon scheduled Auburn on a neutral field and lost in Week 1. But it’s very strange to believe that is the reason the Ducks are not dancing. The loss to Arizona State late in the season was more of a dagger to Oregon’s playoff hopes. It certainly is difficult to run through a nine-game conference schedule, and you can argue the Auburn loss gave Oregon almost no room for error. But scheduling Auburn is not the reason the Ducks are not in the playoffs.
In the end, after all the debate, after all the back and forth and after all the games, the four teams to be selected became completely obvious. The only decision to be made was the order of the four teams, and there was only one decision to be made there. Who should be number one?
LSU gives committee easy reason for the top seed
With the four teams known before Sunday, and with no chaos happening, it was really all about the seedings. The easy picks were slotting Clemson as the three seed and Oklahoma at number four.
Clemson steamrolled through their schedule, save for the one-point escape at North Carolina on September 28. But ultimately, they defeated just one team in the final committee top 25, and that was Saturday against Virginia, who stayed in the rankings, despite the 62-17 blowout. The Cavaliers ended up at number 24 and will play in the Orange Bowl against Florida. As the only team who did got unbeaten out of the final four, Oklahoma was easy to slot at four.
The battle was between LSU and Ohio State for the number one seed and the ability to avoid Clemson in the semifinals.
Both teams certainly have a strong argument. LSU beat four teams in the final top 12, while Ohio State knocked off five teams that finished ranked in the top 21. The deciding factor was LSU looking more dominant in their championship game than Ohio State did in theirs. The committee was more impressed with how complete LSU looked in their win over a Georgia team higher ranked than the Wisconsin team Ohio State had to rally against.
This meant that in the end, LSU had the better argument for the top seed and the left committee no choice but to rank them as the top seed, giving them a trip to the Peach Bowl against Oklahoma, and sending Ohio State to the Fiesta Bowl where Clemson will be waiting for them.
New Year’s Six set as Utah drops out
With the CFB playoffs set, the rest of the New Year’s Six lineup was pretty easy to figure out, since three of the four games have conference affiliations and the fourth was taking the Group of Five representative.
With Wisconsin finishing ahead of Penn State in the final rankings, the Badgers get the nod from the Big Ten for the Rose Bowl, where they will face Pac-12 champion Oregon.
With the SEC and Big 12 champions in the playoffs, the Sugar Bowl took the highest-available teams from both leagues, which will be Georgia and Baylor. Despite missing the playoffs, Baylor will be thrilled to play in the Sugar Bowl for the first time since 1957. What a job Matt Rhule has done, and it is why he will be heavily involved in NFL coaching carousel rumors this offseason.
The Orange Bowl needed someone from the ACC to replace Clemson, despite how down the league was this season. With Virginia finishing in the top 25, the Cavaliers get the nod for the Orange Bowl. As the highest available team between the SEC and Big Ten, Florida will join Virginia down in Miami.
That left just the Cotton Bowl to add teams, and we knew one of them was going to be Memphis, after winning the American Athletic title over Cincinnati, their second win over the Bearcats in as many weeks.
Their opponent will be Penn State, who landed above Utah in the final rankings. So as mentioned above, Utah’s loss Friday cost them not only a possible playoff spot; it cost them the New Year’s Six entirely. They will now play in the Alamo Bowl, which will be an extremely disappointing way to end the season.
Final College Football Playoff Rankings
We’ll leave you with the final top 25 from the committee.
- Ohio State
- Penn State
- Notre Dame
- Boise State
- Appalachian State
- Oklahoma State