Next year, all this talk about the College Football Playoff will be moot with the expansion of the CFP to 12 teams. Arguing about numbers 3, 4 and 5 is very different than 10, 11, 12 and 13. You lose the benefit of the doubt when you lose games. Even in the SEC.
But this year the field is still four teams, and with so many variables impacting the decision, there’s a lot to analyze. And to put it plainly: the College Football Playoff committee got it wrong. College football has it, or at least it does used have – until Right now: the best regular season in sports because the games mattered more. We have a smaller sample size in this sport than in any other.
Leaving out an undefeated 13-0 Florida State team in a Power 5 conference was a poor decision.
Michigan and Washington, both undefeated with top 10 wins, were the easy ones. The problem for the College Football Playoff committee was that there were three teams with legitimate arguments for the final two spots.
I’m sorry, Georgia. You didn’t win the conference title, and in this format, that has to count for something.
Booger McFarland isn’t happy that Alabama entered the CFP against an undefeated Florida State team.
“To me, this is a travesty of sports… One team lost, and that’s Alabama. One doesn’t in the state of Florida.” pic.twitter.com/3rhBvvpT1D
— Terrible announcement (@awfulannouncing) December 3, 2023
Alabama and the SEC are the proverbial elephant in this room. Nick Saban is the greatest coach of all time, and to me, this year was the best coaching job he’s ever had all season. His team was beaten at home by Texas in Week 2 and didn’t look any better against a mediocre USF team the following week. But Jalen Milroe continued to make big strides and when it mattered most, he and the Tide made enough plays to defeat a Bulldogs team that was nowhere near as dominant as it had been in the previous two title seasons.
The problem for Alabama – and the SEC – is the partner they are about to bring in: Texas Done beat Alabama convincingly in Tuscaloosa. It happened and there was nothing strange about it.
The Longhorns, 12-1, were the class of the Big 12. There wasn’t a second-best team in the Big 12 this year, but Oklahoma State beat Oklahoma, the team Texas went up against and, as expected, Texas beat the Cowboys Saturday. Remember, this was an Oklahoma State team that went 9-3 and lost by a combined score of 78-10 to South Alabama and UCF. That wouldn’t have helped Texas’ cause, but do we forget that a week ago Alabama barely escaped against an Auburn team that had been defeated at home the week before by New Mexico State, 31-10?
The biggest issue was with Florida State, the 13-0 Seminoles of the ACC. As we all know, FSU lost quarterback Jordan Travis two weeks ago. Seminoles backup Tate Rodemaker, who led them to a comeback win over Louisville a year earlier when Travis was hurt, didn’t look good in the regular-season finale against arch-rival Florida. He also suffered a concussion.
ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips calls it “unfathomable” that Florida State was left out. “The state of Florida deserved better. “College football deserved better.”
Statement from him: pic.twitter.com/3BYozQOSog
—Andrew Carter (@_andrewcarter) December 3, 2023
FSU third line Brock Glenn had a shaky game in the ACC Championship Game, but the defense was dominant. Led by Braden Fiske and Jared Verse, the Seminoles had 14 TFLs and seven sacks and became the first team in five years to hold Jeff Brohm’s offense under 200 total yards. It’s no coincidence that the same FSU defense began the year by dominating LSU and the SEC’s biggest star, Jayden Daniels, 45-24, and holding the SEC and the nation’s No. 1 offense to their worst performance of the season .
FSU was the only team that held Daniels under 60% passing in a game. Daniels ran for nearly 100 fewer yards (99) against the Noles than he did against the Crimson Tide.
CFP rankings often turn into a dispute between “best” and “most deserving.” Improve it’s usually the get-out-of-jail-free card whenever your team loses or suffers a bad loss that it can’t explain. Similar to the nonsense of “Well, Vegas would make so-and-so more than a touchdown favorite against them.” Great. But tell that to Washington. Last week the Huskies were nearly a double-digit underdog against Oregon, a team they had already beaten this year. …Well, the Huskies beat the Ducks again.
I understand. The SEC has been the most dominant conference in college football for the past two decades. But this year wasn’t like other years if you paid attention. It was simply a down year for the SEC. The ACC went 6-4 against the SEC this year. Self this was a one-loss FSU team, I’d say the Seminoles didn’t get their way, but they did. Texas also shouldn’t have been left out for a team that beat in its place.
As my colleague David Ubben wrote on Saturday evening, the games must count. What’s the point of playing them if we then try to rationalize them?
(Top Florida State photo: John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)