It’s been eight years in the making, but the College Football Playoff, or CFP committee has finally gotten their final rankings correct, with little room for argument.
With Saturday wrapping up the regular season (apart from Army-Navy), we got to see a great day of conference championship games, some of which lived up to the hype, some of which didn’t.
Coming in, Georgia, Michigan, Alabama, and Cincinnati were the four playoff teams, all with one game remaining. Coming out, we still have those same teams fighting for the title, just in a separate order.
Alabama surprised many people as they came out and throttled a Georgia team in the SEC title game that had been the best team in football all year long, with QB Bryce Young leading the way for the TIde, and all but wrapping up the Heisman trophy in the process. This result virtually guaranteed that Bama was going to jump to number one in the final poll, which is exactly what happened.
In the same time slot, Cincinnati came out and, after a mediocre first half, decided to take care of the Houston Cougars in the AAC title game, giving the Bearcats a second consecutive undefeated regular season, and making them the first Group of 5 school to make the College Football Playoff.
Michigan for the Win
Then, to end all speculation about who the four teams were going to be when they were officially announced early Sunday morning, Michigan came out and utterly destroyed the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Big Ten Championship game, 42-3, giving the Wolverines their first conference title since 2004.
These results left the only question being which order these four were going to find themselves in come Sunday.
Personally, I would have left Michigan ahead of Alabama, as both teams got huge wins on Saturday, but Michigan has a much better loss, as their loss came late to in-state rival Michigan State in a game they led 30-13 late in the third quarter, and additionally they’ve just looked more consistent than the Tide have all year long.
The only problem with that scenario is that the committee would have then had to push Cincinnati ahead of Georgia (there’s just no way) in order to avoid a Georgia/Alabama rematch in the semi-finals, which I’d be willing to bet virtually no one wanted to see.
So, in all practicality, the Committee finally got everything right, giving us Alabama/Cincinnati and Michigan/Georgia in the semis on December 31. In year’s past, there’s been plenty of debate to go around about teams that got robbed after being left out when there’s a solid argument they should be in (Texas A&M last year comes to mind), but this year we don’t really have any of that debate, as there was really no question as to who should be in.
Sure, there are people that don’t think Cincinnati is good enough to play against the big boys, but if you leave them out who do you put in their place? Notre Dame would arguably be next up, but they lost to that same Cincinnati team at home earlier this season, they don’t play in a conference so they don’t have a conference championship game to win, and they just watched their head coach bolt to go to LSU.
Oklahoma State could have made a reasonable argument if they had won the Big 12 title, but instead they came out and got knocked off by Baylor. That same Baylor team that are now Big 12 champions could make a case, if they didn’t have a horrendous loss to a coach-less TCU team roughly a month ago.
So while it’s easy to look at this year and say the selection process was easy, we’ve seen the committee botch the process in the past when it seemed easy as well, and we’re rightfully critical of them when they do so.
This year, they got it right, so I think it’s also important to give them props for a job well done.