USA TODAY Sports’ Paul Myerberg previews the two upcoming College Football Playoff matchups and explains why Oklahoma was awarded the final spot.
USA TODAY Sports
This year’s College Football Playoff field will feature three things old and one thing new.
Alabama and Clemson are the top two seeds after completing unbeaten regular seasons. The Crimson Tide now have made the field in all five seasons of the current system that decides the college football championship. After missing out on the inaugural final four, this is the fourth consecutive berth for the Tigers.
What’s new to the playoff this year is Notre Dame. After an unbeaten run in their 12 games, the Irish are making their first appearance. They are the third seed and will meet Clemson in the Cotton Bowl.
The drama from the committee came with the fourth choice. There were three possibilities: Big 12 champion Oklahoma, Big Ten champion Ohio State and Georgia.
Each had outstanding seasons. The Sooners and Buckeyes went 12-1. The Bulldogs went 11-2, but narrowly fell to Alabama in the SEC championship game.
In the end, it was Oklahoma that got the spot and a date with the Crimson Tide in the Orange Bowl.
The selection of the Sooners means the playoff field includes three of the four teams from last year. Alabama, Clemson and Oklahoma have also accounted for 12 of the 20 berths in the five years of the system.
Oklahoma was fifth last week avenged its only loss of the season by beating Texas in the Big 12 title game. The Sooners are the No. 1 offense in college football and will test the Crimson Tide. A maligned defense played better against the Longhorns. Alabama’s offense should provide a tougher test.
It was the second consecutive year Ohio State was left out after winning the Big Ten. While the Buckeyes swept the the East Division, a 29-point loss to Purdue and several closer-than-expected games against lesser competition weighed them down.
Georgia simply couldn’t overcome the two losses on its schedule. The classic SEC title game proved they’re one off the top teams, but the Bulldogs also lost to LSU by 20 points in October. They ended fifth in the final ranking with Ohio State in sixth.
The semifinals will both take place on Saturday, Dec. 29. The winners will advance to the College Football Playoff championship game on Monday, Jan. 7 in Santa Clara, Calif.
College Football Playoff committee top 25
1. Alabama (13-0)
2. Clemson (13-0)
3. Notre Dame (12-0)
4. Oklahoma (12-1)
5. Georgia (11-2)
6. Ohio State (12-1)
7. Michigan (10-2)
8. Central Florida (12-0)
9. Washington (9-3)
10. Florida (9-3)
11. LSU (9-3)
12. Penn State (9-3)
13. Washington State (10-2)
14. Kentucky (9-3)
15. Texas (9-4)
16. West Virginia (8-3)
17. Utah (9-4)
18. Mississippi State (8-4)
19. Texas A&M (8-4)
20. Syracuse (9-3)
21. Fresno State (11-2)
22. Northwestern (8-5)
23. Missouri (8-4)
24. Iowa State (8-4)
25. Boise State (10-3)