The College Football Playoff selection committee had to do a little bit more discussion to determine their top four this season than they may have had in the past two seasons, but a decision has been reached. Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson and Washington are this year’s selections for the College Football Playoff.
The College Football Playoff Four
No. 1 Alabama – The defending national champions are making their third straight appearance in the College Football Playoff. Alabama is the only program to appear in all three playoff tournaments under the new model.
No. 2 Clemson – The ACC champion Clemson Tigers are back in the playoff for a second straight season. Clemson fell in the championship game last year against Alabama. Will the experience of last season pay off for the Tigers in their second consecutive trip representing the ACC?
No. 3 Ohio State – The Buckeyes are looking for their second national championship under the College Football Playoff model. Ohio State becomes the first non-division and non-conference champion to play in the playoff.
No. 4 Washington – The Huskies are the only team making their first trip to the College Football Playoff, and they represent give the Pac-12 their second team in the playoff in three years. Oregon made the playoff in the first season two years ago. The Huskies enter the playoff with blowout wins against top 25 teams Washington State and Colorado.
Peach Bowl: Alabama vs. Washington – A nice little Steve Sarkisian storyline is hidden here, but Chris Petersen and Nick Saban have been two terrific coaches over their careers with time to prepare for big games. Alabama is Atlanta is a tough draw for Washington, but then again anybody would have had a tough draw against the Crimson Tide.
Fiesta Bowl: Clemson vs. Ohio State – A rematch of the Orange Bowl from a few years ago, with Clemson embarrassing Urban Meyer’s Buckeyes in the final season of the BCS formula. Ohio State loves making trips to the Fiesta Bowl, where they always seem to come out on top. Can they keep that going?
First Two Out
Penn State moved up to No. 5 in the playoff committee’s rankings, nudging just ahead of No. 6 Michigan. The Nittany Lions had a compelling argument for inclusion in the playoff but will take a trip to the Rose Bowl as a pretty nice consolation prize. Penn State will play either Colorado or USC. Michigan will now be heading to the Orange Bowl.
Big 12 misses out once again
The Big 12 has missed the College Football Playoff for a second time in three seasons. The four-team playoff model guarantees one power conference will be left out every year at a minimum, and the Big 12 once again took the short straw without a clear above-the-rest contender. Even a strong finish and run by the Oklahoma Sooners was not enough to overcome a tough September with losses to Houston and Ohio State. This should kick the tires on some heated discussions in Big 12 circles in the future.
The ACC, Big Ten and SEC have been represented in all three playoffs, with the Pac-12 earning two berths.