Sunday night the Bowl Selection Committee announced their finalists for the College Football Playoff, 1. Bama, 2. Clemson, 3. Notre Dame, 4 Oklahoma. OU and Bama will lock up in the Orange Bowl, and Clemson and ND will face off in the Cotton Bowl, the winners meeting up to play for the National Championship. 97 bowl games, yet all we care about are these three!
So lets discuss the obvious issues here and ask the question: Four teams or Eight? Using the Final Top 25 Ranking, Total Resume, and Margin of Victory we’ll decide who is truly worthy of being in the CFP and IF there should be a much coveted expansion of the College Football Playoff.
First, lets compare the resume’s of the four teams in the CFP. Alabama, the defending National Champions, the juggernaut of College Sports and the Number One team in all the land. Undefeated in the SEC, 13-0 on the season and defeated 5 of the Top 25 teams in the final Top 25 Rankings. Bama’s closest game came this past week vs. No. 5 Georgia (35-28) in an improbable comeback when Jalen Hurts came in the game to replace an injured Tua (I cant say the last name, so I REFUSE to write it!). The Crimson Tide won by an average of 31.3 points per game, scoring more than 50 eight times in their 13 games. People love to talk about ‘Bama’s schedule, yet they’ve defeated seven bowl teams this year. Based on that resume, Alabama is a deserving participant in the CFP.
Coming in at Number 2, the Clemson Tigers. The Tigers were also undefeated this year, running through the ACC (8-0) to finish with a 13-0 record and the number two spot. This year however, Clemson only defeated two teams who finished in the Top 25 Final Rankings, both of those games being in September, Texas A&M at 19 and Syracuse at 20. Clemson’s dominating season was highlighted by winning games by an average of 25.3 points per game (an average of 3 ppg in their Top 25 matchups) and winning by 60 points or more twice this season. Clemson also defeated 7 Bowl eligible teams this year, on their way to the second best team in the CFP.
The Number 3 team, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, finished the season at a remarkable 12-0, the first time ND has finished undefeated since 2012 when the Irish lost the National Championship game to Bama. Notre Dame defeated three of the Final Top 25 teams, Michigan (7), Northwestern (22) and Syracuse (20) all three by an average of 14 points (Michigan by 7 and Northwestern by 10). Their average margin of victory is 16.3 points per game, and the Irish have defeated five Bowl eligible teams as they locked up the 3rd spot in the CFP.
The Final team in the CFP is the only team with a loss on the resume, and the only team that needed to leapfrog teams for the only available spot in the CFP’s version of the Final Four. The Oklahoma Sooners defeated the Texas Longhorns in only the 3rd meeting between the two teams where the conference title was on the line, 39-27 and finished the season as Big 12 Champions and 12-1. OU has 7 wins over Bowl Eligible teams, 3 wins vs Top 25 teams and their lone loss coming in the Red River Rivalry Game to the 15th ranked Long Horns by three points, the Sooners have since rattled off 7 consecutive wins. In their 12 wins, the Sooners won by an average of 17.9 points a game and lead by Kyler Murray, OU posted an historic offensive output. Getting hot at the right time and staying hot helped OU make it to the College Football Playoff.
On the outside looking in, 5. Georgia, 6. OSU, 7. Michigan and at 8. the Undefeated UCF Knights. Lets use the same comparisons to make a case for these teams.
UGA lost to Bama in the SEC Championship Game after an improbable comeback and terrible fake punt call, that saw Jalen Hurts lead the Crimson Tide to an undefeated regular season. The Bulldogs lost two games and finished the season 11-2 however, they defeated 8 Bowl Eligible teams in their 11 wins and their two losses came to two ranked teams in LSU and the afore mentioned Alabama. Georgia won their games by an average of 25.9 points per and lost by an average of 13.5 points per in their losses.
Ohio State, shouldn’t be allowed to play in a bowl game, so they will be expelled from this list.
Michigan ( defeated 5 Bowl Eligible teams and two of them were ranked in the final Top 25 Rankings of the season, Northwestern and Penn State. Their two losses came on the road to both Notre Dame in the first game of the year and OSU by 23 in the final game of the year. Their 10 wins came by an average of 25.9 and were paced by one of the best defenses in the country.
The undefeated UCF Knights (the defending National Champions to some) finished the season 12-0 and won the AAC Championship, yet the case for their participation in the CFP should be looked at equally when compared to the rest of the teams mentioned. UCF won their games by an average of 22.8 points per game, winning 6 games vs. 5 Bowl Eligible teams (Memphis Twice), none of which are ranked in the Top 25.
A case could be made for the expansion of the CFP to include a team like UCF, however their resume does not add up and an 8 team CFP would create issues with scheduling and add to an already jam packed bowl schedule.
An expansion of the CFP to 6 teams would be more acceptable, with the top two teams getting a “bye week” and the bottom four teams getting an extra “play in” game. However, in-spite of it’s short comings the CFP is fine the way it is, there will never be a way of making the fans happy and ultimately some of the teams, as much as we would love to see it, would not compete very well vs the top teams in the country. The one thing I would recommend for the CFP to do, do not reward a team with no conference, it diminishes the work done by those who have put their standing on the line by playing that extra game. Georgia lost it’s bid at a title because they were in a game that meant something. Notre Dame has proven in the past they can’t compete in the biggest game vs the best teams, time and time again.
What do you think the CFP Committee should do? Is expansion the answer?