The College Football Playoff teams have been revealed. But, not without controversy. I’ll tell you why the committee got it right.
The final playoff rankings are 1. Alabama (13-0), 2. Clemson (12-1), 3. Ohio State (11-1), and 4. Washington (12-1). The first two out were 5. Penn State, 6. Michigan (9-3). This is perfect combination of balancing the “eye test” and the “resume” to find the top 4 deserving teams. The whole reason we got rid of the BCS system for The Playoff Committee was to allow humans to judge the teams instead of a computer.
This is yet another controversial year but they got it right.
Alabama is pretty obvious. The have the resume and pass every eye test to say they belong in the group. They are undefeated. They have won the SEC Championship. They have been ranked no. 1 the whole year. Alabama has only had two close games all year, Ole Miss and LSU. The Tide defense is one of the top 3, if not best, defenses in the country. They have held opponents to a nation leading 11.8 points a game. The offense led by freshman Jalen Hurts is more dynamic with a dual threat quarterback than recent Alabama offenses. Alabama without a doubt deserves a playoff spot.
Clemson should also be joining Alabama in the playoff for consecutive years. The Clemson Tigers are coming off a ACC Championship 42-35 victory over Virginia Tech. They have good wins against Louisville and at Auburn and Florida State but they have a bad loss at home against Pitt. Deshaun Watson is leading a high octane and high scoring offense to match their top 25 defense. Their resume holds up and they look like a top four team. Its pretty easy to say they belong in the playoff.
Ohio State is where it starts to get a little interesting. When you watch the Buckeyes, they look like one of the few teams that can actually beat Alabama. The Buckeyes have a top 10 defense and a top 10 offense with athletes on both sides of the ball. There is some inexperience throughout some of the lineup, but J.T. Barrett has won a National Championship and should be able to lead this team. Their resume may be the best in the country; wins at Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Nebraska, and a win at home against Michigan. Their resume only has two flaws, a loss at Penn State and no Big Ten Conference Championship.
Washington has everything but the out of conference schedule. The Huskies non-conference schedule ranks 127th out of 128 teams but 10 of their 13 games were against PAC 12 competition. So yeah, they had three easy non-conference tune up games, so did Alabama. They won the Pac 12 Conference with a convincing 41-10 win over Colorado. They have wins at home over Stanford and at Utah and Washington State. Their only loss came at home against a red hot USC team. They look as good as their resume. They have blow out most of the teams they have played including Stanford, Washington State, and Oregon. They have an explosive offense and a stout defense. They may give Alabama a little trouble come New Years Eve.
Penn State is on the outside looking in. And they really should be. They have two losses, at Pitt and 39 point spanking at Michigan. They are the only two loss team worth talking about but their losses are pretty bad. Yes, they won the best conference in college football. Yes, they have the best win of any team, at home against Ohio State. They looked really good in their comeback win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship game, but did they look better than Washington looked? Not really. This Penn State team is REALLY good and they bounced back incredibly well from the Sandusky Scandal consequences but they shouldn’t leap over Washington or replace Ohio State in the Playoff.
Excluding Penn State sounds like a statement from the Committee saying “Conference championships aren’t everything”. As fans, we should be okay with that. This isn’t going to happen most years. The “best” team in a conference is almost always going to play for their respective championship. It happened this year and the committee used the “eye test” to keep Ohio State in and leave Penn State out. The conference championship is only a piece of the puzzle for building a playoff resume. The Committee found the 4 most deserving teams to play in the playoff, now we just hope the football gods bless us with good games.