Based on how the second-to-last College Football Playoff rankings came out last Tuesday (11/28), the selection committee had it virtually set up so that if teams took care of business, it’d make for an easy selection Sunday. It also presented a route for potentially utter chaos.
Turns out, there was not nearly as much chaos as there could have been. Perhaps aside from the No. 4 spot in the pairings, the committee had little to no trouble tabbing these four teams for the playoff.
— College Football Playoff (@CFBPlayoff) December 3, 2017
The biggest debate heading into Sunday afternoon’s revealing of the final playoff rankings revolved around the No. 4 spot, specifically around the Big Ten Championship game. Ohio State (11-2) took down an undefeated Wisconsin Badgers to win the Big Ten on Saturday, whereas Alabama (11-1) did not even play in their conference championship game.
The first three teams — Clemson, Oklahoma and Georgia — were locks after their convincing victories in conference title games on Saturday. The decision to ultimately put Alabama in over Ohio State tells us that the committee feels, perhaps solely based on the eye test, that the Crimson Tide are simply better than the Buckeyes.
Ohio State suffered two losses this season, including a 31-point defeat on the road against Iowa; whereas Alabama’s lone defeat came in the season finale on the road against arch-rival and top-10 foe Auburn. But OSU’s other loss was to a team currently slotted in the playoff pairings in Oklahoma. The Buckeyes also have a trio of wins over top-15 teams; Alabama had two top-20 wins.
Simply put, the blowout loss at Iowa was too much for the committee to overcome for Ohio State from a resume standpoint.
Shortly before the CFP rankings were revealed, the final regular season AP Top 25 was also made public, and the top four matches the four playoff teams. Locally, Michigan State finished at No. 18 in the final AP poll. Michigan received eight votes to crack the top 25, with five teams ahead of them receiving more votes.