The College Football Playoff values a one-loss team over a two-loss conference champion. Again.
Alabama stayed ahead of Ohio State in the final College Football Playoff rankings and made the playoff for a fourth-straight season. The 11-1 Crimson Tide were off on Saturday while Ohio State, 11-2, beat previously undefeated Wisconsin for the Big Ten title Saturday night.
Alabama entered the final week of the regular season undefeated but lost to Auburn in the Iron Bowl. Alabama was at No. 1 before the final week and was at No. 5 entering championship weekend. Ohio State was at No. 8.
The Tide’s inclusion into the playoff means we get a third-straight playoff matchup between Alabama and Clemson. The No. 1 Tigers and No. 4 Tide will meet (likely) in the Sugar Bowl.
The (likely) Rose Bowl is No. 2 Oklahoma vs. No. 3 Georgia. The Sooners beat TCU in Saturday’s Big 12 Championship game while Georgia took down Auburn in the SEC title game. The Tigers entered the week at No. 2.
A year ago, a one-loss Ohio State team made it to the playoff ahead of Big Ten champion Penn State, which had two losses. Much like Alabama did this season, Ohio State had entered championship weekend ahead of Penn State. The conference title didn’t sway the committee enough to vault the two-loss team ahead of the one loss team for the second-straight season.
Alabama’s inclusion also means the playoff has not included a two-loss team in each of its first four seasons. And the Tide’s inclusion also means it’s the first time the playoff has taken two teams from the same conference.
College Football Playoff committee chairperson Kirby Hocutt said Ohio State’s 31-point loss to Iowa hurt the Buckeyes significantly when comparing Alabama and Ohio State.
“Over the course of the year, as we saw Alabama play week in and week out, our rankings show when we start with a clean sheet of paper each and every week that the selection committee believed that Alabama was the better football team,” Hocutt said.
Clemson is back in the playoff for a third-straight season. The defending national champions have made the National Championship game in each of the past two seasons. It’s Oklahoma’s second playoff appearance. The Sooners lost to Clemson in the semifinals following the 2015 season.
This will be Georgia’s first appearance in the College Football Playoff. Saturday was the Bulldogs’ first SEC title since 2005 and they’re probably rewarded with the team’s first trip to the Rose Bowl since 1943. We say likely and probably because the bowl assignments weren’t immediately revealed when the top four was. But with the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans being the closest bowl to Clemson, the Tigers probably won’t be traveling across the country.
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