College Football Playoff: A Look into the Field
December 6, 2017
The College Football Playoff (CFP) field is finally set. After an action-packed regular season, Clemson, Oklahoma, Georgia, and Alabama have emerged and been selected by the committee as the four best teams in the country respectively, therefore securing themselves a spot in the Playoff. Oklahoma will play Georgia in the Rose Bowl. Clemson will play Alabama in the first round of the CFP for the third year in a row, in the Sugar Bowl. The winners of these two games—both of which are slated to take place on New Year’s Day—go on to play each other in the National Championship.
After dominating the Miami Hurricanes in the ACC Championship and winning the conference, Clemson secured the number one spot in the country. Clemson is certainly a viable contender to become the first number one team to ever win the playoffs, going into the fourth year of the playoff era. Clemson finished the season with a 12-1 record, with the squad’s only loss coming in a stunning, early upset pulled off by Syracuse.
At the number two spot was another easy decision: Oklahoma. As Big 12 Champions, and with the lethal offensive weapon that is Heisman front-running quarterback Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma is a force to be reckoned with. Their offense averaged approximately 45 points per game as the team closed out the regular season with a 12-1 record; their only loss was to Iowa State at home. Oklahoma still scored 31 points in that game, and their offense has been outstanding for the entire season. Their defense, however, is a significant weak spot for the Sooners that Georgia will look to exploit come Jan. 1.
Number three is Georgia. They won the SEC Championship by exacting revenge on Auburn, after Auburn embarrassed Georgia several weeks prior. Georgia also finished the season at a highly respectable 12-1. With the exceptions of Auburn (the regular-season game) and Notre Dame (Georgia only won by a point.), Georgia has been dominating their opponents all season. Georgia has a shot at winning the National Championship for the first time in nearly four decades.
Finally, at number four, and the most surprising entry of the four teams, is Alabama. They are now the only team in college football to have made the CFP all four years. Alabama is 11-1, since they are the only team of the four teams in the playoffs that did not play in a conference championship game, having been beaten handily by Auburn in the Iron Bowl. In the eyes of many, Alabama has not seemed as dominant this season as they have in years past, with their recent loss to Auburn serving as the reason many were surprised by the Crimson Tide’s CFP berth. The team’s most impressive win of the season was against current, 16th-ranked LSU.
The premier team that nearly made the CFP was Ohio State (10-2), as they won the Big 10 conference but were robbed of a playoff spot, most likely due to their embarrassing regular-season loss to Iowa. In the end, the committee seemingly chose the better team, Alabama, over the more deserving team résumé-wise, Ohio State. The next two teams were hardly even considered, but one could argue they still deserved a shot. USC (11-2), did win the PAC 12, but this was hardly enough to be considered for the playoffs, as they finished ranked 8th in the country. Finally, UCF (12-0) won their conference with their AAC Championship title, and they are the only undefeated team in college football. However, due to strength of schedule (or, more accurately, a lack thereof), they did not stand a chance.
The CFP kicks off with the Rose Bowl, scheduled to begin at 5:00 PM on New Year’s Day 2018, followed by the Sugar Bowl at 8:45 PM. The National Championship game will be held at 8:00 PM on Jan. 8.