After championship weekend, the field is set for the inaugural College Football Playoff, with Alabama, Oregon, Florida State all staying in the top four, and Ohio State jumping TCU to get into the field. But did the committee get the top four right?
1. Alabama (12-1, Last Week: 1st, CFP Rankings: 1st)
The Crimson Tide are clearly the top team in the nation, solidifying that with a 42-13 SEC Championship win over Missouri, and now prepare for the Sugar Bowl in a national semifinal against Ohio State.
2. Oregon (12-1, 2nd, 2nd)
Likely Heisman winner Marcus Mariota led the Ducks to a 51-13 win over Arizona, who was the only team to beat them all year. Some have criticized the Ducks’ defense, as they are very offensive-based, and have wondered if that defense can hold up in the College Football Playoff, but the defense proved its worth in the win over the Wildcats, as the team now prepares to meet Florida State in the Rose Bowl, which will be the first ever national semifinal.
3. Florida State (13-0, 3rd, 3rd)
The Seminoles beat Georgia Tech in a back-and-forth contest, 37-35, to complete an undefeated regular season and earn their spot in the playoff. While not all of their wins have been dominant, they’ve still won all their games, and with a win over Oregon and another in the national title game, they can become the first ever 15-win team in college football (the other playoff teams do not have this shot).
4. TCU (11-1, 4th, 6th) and
5. Ohio State (12-1, 6th, 4th)
TCU defeated 2-10 Iowa State, 55-3, while Ohio State won the Big Ten Championship Game over Wisconsin, 59-0, and the Buckeyes passed the Horned Frogs for the fourth and final spot in the playoff. While I understand why Ohio State moved into the fourth spot, as they were extremely impressive in their shutout win over the Badgers, there is no way the committee can, in my mind, justify dropping TCU three spots in their rankings after a 52-point victory in a conference game in a “Power Five” league. I understand the game was against a team that is winless in the Big 12, but the schedule really hurt the Horned Frogs, as it seems people looked at their final opponent and not their full body of work. It is very possible that TCU (and Baylor) were hurt by the Big 12 not having a title game, as there was not “One True Champion” (even though that’s the Big 12’s slogan), and neither of the co-champions reached the bracket to try and win the league a national title. Additionally, Ohio State has by far the worst loss out of the six playoff contenders, losing to Virginia Tech back in September. While Ohio State now prepares to meet Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, TCU will face Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl, part of the New Year’s Six.
6. Baylor (11-1, 5th, 5th)
Like TCU, Baylor was hurt by their league not producing a clear-cut, outright conference champion, although with their head-to-head win over TCU in October they did pass the Horned Frogs in the CFP rankings, moving into fifth, but still one spot short of the goal. Baylor did all they could, beating a top ten opponent in Kansas State by a 38-27 score, but it still wasn’t enough. The Bears won’t have to go too far for their bowl game, as they will play in the Cotton Bowl against Michigan State.
7. Michigan State (10-2, 7th, 8th)
The Spartans sat at home and watched as Ohio State took the Big Ten title, perhaps wondering what might have been had they beaten the Buckeyes on November 8. They knew that, with no conference title game, they had no realistic shot at the playoff, even with a lot of help, and will now prepare for the Cotton Bowl against Baylor, a nice consolation for the only team with losses to two teams in the playoff.
8. Mississippi State (10-2, 10th, 7th)
The Bulldogs were in a similar situation to Michigan State, as they stayed home on championship weekend, and waited to see what New Year’s Six bowl they would be headed to. As it turns out, they will head to the Orange Bowl to play ACC runner-up Georgia Tech.
9. Ole Miss (9-3, 14th, 9th)
The Rebels finished third in their own division, and were never really in the SEC West race after their second loss on November 1, yet with the strength of wins over Alabama and Mississippi State, they find themselves on the inside, not the outside, of the New Year’s Six set of bowl games. They will play (arguably) the biggest playoff snub in the Peach Bowl when they meet TCU.
10. Georgia Tech (10-3, 11th, 12th)
The Yellow Jackets actually move up in these rankings after a loss, doing so after keeping their game with third-ranked Florida State very close, while others around them were the victims of one-sided scores in their respective conference championship games. With ACC Champion Florida State making the playoff, the next highest ranked ACC team gets the ACC’s spot in the Orange Bowl, and that spot goes to the Jackets, as they will face Mississippi State on New Year’s Eve in Miami.
11. Arizona (10-3, 9th, 10th)
12. Kansas State (9-3, 13th, 11th)
13. Missouri (10-3, 12th, 16th)
14. Georgia (9-3, 15th, 13th)
15. UCLA (9-3, 16th, 14th)
16. Wisconsin (10-3, 8th, 18th)
17. Arizona State (9-3, 17th, 15th)
18. Clemson (9-3, 19th, 17th)
19. Auburn (8-4, 20th, 19th)
20. Louisville (9-3, 21st, 21st)
21. Boise State (10-2, 23rd, 20th)
22. Nebraska (9-3, 22nd, unranked)
23. USC (8-4, 24th, 24th)
24. LSU (8-4, 25th, 23rd)
25. Utah (8-4, unranked, 22nd)
Also ranked in CFP rankings: Minnesota (8-4, unranked, 25th)
Fell from rankings: Oklahoma (8-4, 18th, unranked)
My Heisman Ballot:
1. Marcus Mariota (QB, Oregon)
2. Amari Cooper (WR, Alabama)
3. Melvin Gordon (RB, Wisconsin)
These three are the three finalists for the award, although in my opinion TCU QB Trevone Boykin should have also been named a finalist (the number can be between three and five)