The 2019-2020 College Football Playoff field is set.
Thanks largely to a drama-free and fairly straightforward conference championship weekend, the CFP Selection Committee made the easy choice of the four teams who will play for this season’s national championship: SEC champion LSU at No. 1 in the Peach Bowl semifinal against No. 4 Oklahoma and recently crowned Big Ten champ Ohio State at No. 2 in the Fiesta Bowl semifinal against reigning champions and No. 3 Clemson.
“You’ve got two complete teams, obviously. They’ve both had a conference championship and when we’re comparing schedule strength, you’ve got LSU 4-0 against teams in the top 13, Ohio State 5-0 against teams in the top 21,” committee chairman Rob Mullens said on ESPN of the only debate that existed on the top seeds. “It was really close, I mean we’ve spent the entire ranking season, six weeks of just, you know, one going above the other one just by a tick.
“We saw the last couple of weeks an LSU defense that’s healthy and playing better, continued quality play out of Joe Burrow at the quarterback position so this week we just felt that LSU deserve that number one seed going into the playoffs.”
The Peach Bowl in Atlanta will kickoff first on Saturday, December 28 at 4 p.m. ET and be followed by the Fiesta Bowl at roughly 8 p.m. ET with both games broadcasted on ESPN.
Perhaps most notable regarding this year’s final four is who’s not involved as this will be the very first College Football Playoff since its inception in 2014 without Alabama and Nick Saban. Two-loss Pac-12 champion Oregon was also not involved in the discussions for postseason tournament either as the conference has missed out on the CFP for the third straight year.
This will be the Sooners’ fourth appearance and first trip to the Peach Bowl in the current setup, having posted an 0-3 mark in their previous semifinals. The Buckeyes are on their third selection, having won the first Playoff altogether while also getting shutout by Clemson in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl.
The newbie of the group? That would be Ed Orgeron’s Tigers, who are the first SEC team other than Georgia and the Crimson Tide to make it in. The site of this season’s National Championship Game is at the Superdome in New Orleans — notable since LSU’s past two titles were won there.
The Selection Committee’s full top 25 and the rest of the New Year’s Six matchups will be announced later on Sunday but for now, let the discussion over this year’s Playoff begin.
LSU is tops in both polls after being named the No. 1 team in the final regular season AP Poll on Sunday afternoon.
The Tigers edged No. 2 Ohio State, No. 3 Clemson and No. 4 Oklahoma in what is expected to be the same order of teams in this year’s final four to play for the national title.
While that was no surprise, Pac-12 fans may take an exception to voters putting No. 7 Oregon behind a pair of SEC teams with similar records in No. 5 Georgia and No. 6 Florida. Despite a title game loss, Baylor remained at No. 8 while Utah fell from No. 5 to No. 12 after falling to the Ducks. Wisconsin slipped just one place after getting beat by the Buckeyes in Indianapolis.
The full AP top 25 for the final weekend of the regular season:
- Ohio State
- Penn State
- Notre Dame
- Boise State
- Appalachian State
- Air Force
- Oklahoma State
The College Football Playoff rankings matter just a bit more to both teams but in the first early indication of which way the Selection Committee might be leaning, LSU edged out Ohio State for the No. 1 spot in the final Coaches’ Poll of the regular season on Sunday.
As expected, Clemson was set at No. 3 and Big 12 champion Oklahoma occupied the No. 4 spot. SEC title game loser Georgia stayed in the top five ahead of No. 6 Oregon. While the Bulldogs fell only one spot, Utah was dropped quite a bit after losing to the Ducks on Friday and wound up down five spots to No. 10.
AAC champion Memphis were up to No. 15 as the highest ranked Group of Five team, softening the blow somewhat of losing head coach Mike Norvell on the same day. Also notable is Virginia was not penalized for getting blown out by Clemson in the ACC championship game and saying in the top 25.
The full Coaches Poll following conference championship weekend:
- LSU (46 first place votes)
- Ohio State (14)
- Clemson (5)
- Penn State
- Notre Dame
- Boise State
- Appalachian State
- Air Force
Entering its sixth season of existence, this year’s College Football Playoff may have its deepest field of playoff participants yet. Oh yes, this one is going to be good.
A system that has yielded what appeared to be a definitive two-team race the last handful of seasons with continued dominance by Alabama and Clemson, this year’s field feels as wide open as it has been under this new format. With one undefeated national champion riding a 28-game winning streak (Clemson), an undefeated SEC champion with the likely Heisman Trophy winner (LSU, with Joe Burrow), and an undefeated Big Ten champion with a trio of players that have been mentioned as worthy Heisman candidates (Ohio State), the main ingredients for a dynamic College Football Playoff are locked in. Throw in a one-loss Big 12 champion with one of the hot young names in coaching and a terrific story in the making (Oklahoma with Lincoln Riley and Jalen Hurts), what could there possibly be not to like about this year’s playoff field?
The College Football Playoff will once again have a fairly straightforward decision to make with the top four teams in this year’s playoff. There hasn’t really been much debate about which four teams have been worthy of inclusion in the playoff since its inception outside of the first season depending whom you ask (TCU and Baylor). When it has come time for the committee to make the decision they are put together to do, it’s been pretty easy. That seems to have worked out again this season with undefeated conference champions from the ACC (Clemson), Big Ten (Ohio State) and the SEC (LSU) and just one other 1-loss conference champion in the running (Oklahoma) after Utah stumbled before crossing the finish line Friday night in the Pac-12 championship game. Utah’s loss was the Big 12’s and Oklahoma’s gain once Georgia was handled by LSU in the SEC Championship Game.
Clemson is making its fifth straight appearance in the College Football. The Tigers now own the longest active streak of playoff appearances after Alabama fell short of the playoff this season. Clemson’s five appearances now ties Alabama for the most playoff appearances in the brief history o the College Football Playoff, and the pursuit of a 3rd national title in the era would give Clemson the lead in all-time College Football Playoff national titles. With offensive stars in Trevor Lawrence, Tee Higgins, and Travis Etienne, it’s difficult not to like Clemson’s chances to put some points on the board this year. That’s good because this could be the most explosive College Football Playoff yet. Ohio State (49.9 ppg), LSU (48.7 ppg), Clemson (44.3 ppg), and Oklahoma (44.3 ppg) were ranked in the top five in the nation in scoring at the close of the regular season. Defense wins championships? Not this year, it would seem.
Transfer quarterbacks are also all the rage this year, showing how valuable the transfer market can be for a team hoping to reach the College Football Playoff. Ohio State’s Justin Fields was the Big Ten’s Offensive Player of the Year in his first season after transferring from Georgia a year ago. Ironically, it is former Ohio State quarterback Joe Burrow who has been the catalyst for a playoff run at LSU. Jalen Hurts of Oklahoma is in his fourth College Football Playoff after transferring from Alabama. There is a storybook ending being scripted for any of those three right now, although Lawrence and Clemson are working on their own sequel as well.
We have yet to see a real good showing from the College Football Playoff in terms of the national semifinals. Aside from Ohio State’s upset of Alabama in 2014 and Georgia’s overtime thriller in the Rose Bowl against Oklahoma two seasons ago, the semifinals have largely been a relative bust in terms of entertainment. With this year’s field, however, that should not be the case.
So let the games begin! We should have a dandy of a College Football Playoff on our hands.