Alabama is in. So is Oregon. That we know for sure about the College Football Playoff.
The rest of the contenders didn’t make it so easy on the selection committee, ensuring some drama before the first playoff pairings are revealed Sunday.
Florida State? The Seminoles are far from perfect, but they are still unbeaten.
TCU? The Horned Frogs were third last week and certainly did nothing to hurt that on Championship Saturday.
Baylor and Ohio State presented winning final arguments, too.
“I think the committee’s going to earn their keep here in the next 12 hours or so as they try to formalize who they’re going to include in the four,” Baylor Athletic Director Ian McCaw said. “But it’s going to be very difficult to keep the Baylor Bears out.”
The same sentiment was coming from all camps.
“I think the way we played and how we do things really speaks for itself,” TCU coach Gary Patterson said after the Horned Frogs beat Iowa State 55-3.
Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said after the Seminoles beat Georgia Tech 37-35 for the Atlantic Coast Conference championship: “I ain’t worried about being No. 1. We’ll be in the playoff. That’s an opinion.”
And in Indianapolis it was Ohio State making its case with 59-0 blowout against Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt we’re one of the top four teams in America,” Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer said.
From the moment the four-team playoff was introduced, the people who came up with the idea promised it would not end the debate about which teams should play for the national championship. In fact, it would probably intensify it.
Instead of No. 3 and maybe 4 feeling jilted, it could be No. 5 and No. 6.
It took exactly one season for that promise to come to fruition.
Figuring out who takes the final two spots is going to take some work. As for No. 1 and No. 2, it’s just a matter of what order to put Alabama and Oregon.
The Crimson Tide followed the Ducks’ lead on Saturday in Atlanta, walloping Missouri 42-13 to win the Southeastern Conference championship. Oregon beat Arizona 51-13 to win the Pac-12 championship Friday night.
The committee has spent the last six weeks dropping Florida State as the Seminoles kept winning. It is hard to fathom the only unbeaten team in FBS not being among the final four.
But you never know and that’s the point of all of this, really. It’s all new. Anything the committee decides will be unprecedented.
So the Seminoles may not be totally in the clear.
TWO TRUE CHAMPIONS
The Big 12, the Big Five conference with no championship game, a full round-robin schedule among its 10 members and the slogan “One True Champion,” held two championship trophy ceremonies on Saturday: one for TCU, then another for Baylor.
First, Commissioner Bob Bowlsby handed one out in Fort Worth. Then he did another in Waco, where he was greeted by boos and a testy coach.
Baylor’s Art Briles made it clear to the commissioner and anybody else who would listen that his Bears, who beat TCU 61-58 in October but have been ranked behind the Frogs by the committee, are the league’s one true champion.
The Big 12 isn’t designating a champion, declaring the Frogs and Bears co-champs, and Briles thinks it hurts his team’s chances to get in the playoff.
“There’s no question about it,” Briles said.
Committee chairman Jeff Long has said the resumes between TCU and Baylor haven’t been close enough for the head-to-head to come into play. But now the Bears and Frogs have played 10 common opponents. The only real difference will be that Baylor played Buffalo and TCU played Minnesota.
The Bears’ loss was at West Virginia.
As cleanup crews worked in McLane Stadium, long after the Bears had beaten Kansas State, the video board continued to make the Bears’ case: `SETTLED ON THE FIELD” it read, with the scores of Baylor’s wins against TCU, Oklahoma and Kansas State.
The Buckeyes were so good against Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game – with a third-string quarterback – that they might have helped the selection committee solve its Big 12 problem.
Instead of choosing between the Big 12’s co-champions, the 12-member panel could pass on both and go with the Big Ten’s best team.
The Buckeyes were fifth in the playoff rankings heading into the Big Ten championship game, and didn’t miss Heisman Trophy candidate J.T. Barrett one bit. Cardale Jones was spectacular and the Buckeyes smothered Wisconsin star Melvin Gordon.
WE’RE NO. 1! NO WE ARE!
Both the Tide and Ducks made a case to be No. 1, but it might not matter much. Expect Alabama to be in the semifinal held at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans and Oregon to be at the one held at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.
Who they’ll play was being determined just outside of Dallas in a swanky resort hotel by 12 people who are about to make a whole lot of football fans unhappy.
Sugar Bowl semifinal: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Ohio State.
Rose Bowl semifinal: No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 3 Florida State.
Cotton Bowl: Baylor vs. Mississippi.
Fiesta Bowl: Boise State vs. Arizona.
Peach Bowl: TCU vs. Mississippi State.
Orange Bowl: Georgia Tech vs. Michigan State.