Alabama is gifted final spot in College Football Playoff

December 4, 2017

The College Football Playoff (CFP) Selection Committee announced its final top 25 rankings for 2017, controversially including Alabama among its top four teams.  In addition, the Committee also named the match-ups for the New Year’s bowls.

Alabama, a team that failed to make its own conference title game, was somehow gifted an opportunity to compete for a national title by the reclusive cabal in charge of choosing the final four playoff teams.

A one-loss record and a talented roster surely fueled the Crimson Tide's rise to the fourth spot, but frankly, who did they beat?

Their non-conference win against Florida State meant little given the Seminoles mediocrity this season. Conference wins against Mississippi State and LSU also should have been given little weight, as both of those opponents were good, but not great (LSU lost to Troy this year, while Mississippi State lost to a sub-par Ole Miss program).

In the one game the Tide had against a true top opponent, it lost to rival Auburn.

Like most SEC schools, 'Bama gets an unjust boost off East Coast bias alone.  It also competes in a conference where teams are top heavy, generally avoid strong non-conference opposition, and prop each other up by playing in a limited eight-game conference schedule.

But what makes its inclusion more infuriating is that 'Bama leapfrogged Ohio State, a quality team that won its conference title game, but apparently was penalized for a two-loss season that included a blowout defeat in the mix.

The message from the Committee is clear: we are picking the best four teams, and we will not be limited to conference champions.

It's the right idea, in theory.  After all, who wants to include a weak Power Five school in the mix if it wins its conference in a down year for that league?

The problem here is the execution of that theory.  Is Alabama the fourth best team in the country, or is this just the usual pro-SEC bias?  Perhaps the inertia from the Tide's past few seasons of success compelled voters to give them the benefit of the doubt in a questionable year?

Frankly, 'Bama has no business being in the playoff.  It won game after game, but did not set the world on fire during the regular season, nor did it lose to Auburn by mere happenstance or some unlucky break.

Instead, this was a reputation vote and a simplistic look at the Tide's won-loss record (a formula that the cabal apparently declined to apply to Wisconsin, much to the dismay of the Badgers).

A four-team playoff in an environment with five power conferences is bad enough, but when two teams from the same conference get into the playoff, and one of those teams can't even make its own conference title game, the playoff then becomes absolutely absurd.

But even absurdity has its own schedule apparently.  On Monday, January 1, 2018, No. 3 Georgia will face No. 2 Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl Game. The Sugar Bowl will follow as No. 4 Alabama plays No. 1 Clemson.

The winners of the Playoff Semifinals will advance to the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship. The national championship game will take place on Monday, January 8, 2018, in Atlanta, Georgia.

The College Football Playoff also announced the New Year’s bowl match-ups.

In the Cotton Bowl (Dec. 29), No. 8 Southern California will face No. 5 Ohio State.  In the Fiesta Bowl (Dec. 30), No. 11 Washington takes on No. 9 Penn State.  In the Peach Bowl (Jan. 1), No. 12 UCF will battle No. 7 Auburn.  Finally, the Orange Bowl (Dec. 30) also announced its matchup, No. 10 Miami against No. 6 Wisconsin.

Below are the final rankings:

1 Clemson
2 Oklahoma
3 Georgia
4 Alabama
5 Ohio State
6 Wisconsin
7 Auburn
8 Southern California
9 Penn State
10 Miami
11 Washington
12 UCF
13 Stanford
14 Notre Dame
16 Michigan State
17 LSU
18 Washington State
19 Oklahoma State
20 Memphis
21 Northwestern
22 Virginia Tech
23 Mississippi State
24 NC State
25 Boise State

Pac-12 gets 9 bowl games

The Pac-12 had a disappointing season, as it failed to land a team in the playoff.  Of course, it can look in the mirror for that fiasco because its demanding nine-game conference schedule arguably sets the conference up for failure.

Still, there is a silver lining, as nine teams will play in a bowl game.

Pac-12 Champion No. 8 USC (11-2) earned its first Pac-12 Football Championship Game victory with a 31-28 win over Stanford Friday night, and with it a spot in the Cotton Bowl Classic to face Big Ten champion No. 5 Ohio State (11-2) on Fri., Dec. 29.

The Pac-12 and Big Ten champions would normally play in the Rose Bowl Game. However, this year’s Rose Bowl Game will be home to one of the College Football Playoff’s semifinal games. The displaced champions are guaranteed a spot in one of the CFP’s New Year’s bowl games.

This will be the second time the Trojans have played in the Cotton Bowl (defeated Texas Tech, 55-14, in 1995), and their eighth postseason meeting with Ohio State, the first since the 1985 Rose Bowl Game.

No. 11 Washington (10-2), by virtue of its CFP ranking, assured itself an at-large spot in a CFP New Year’s bowl game and will meet No. 9 Penn State (10-2) of the Big Ten in the Fiesta Bowl on Sat., Dec. 30. This will be the first Fiesta Bowl appearance for the Huskies.

No. 13 Stanford (9-4) is tabbed for the Alamo Bowl where the Cardinal will face No. 15 TCU (10-3) of the Big 12 on Thurs., Dec. 28. The Cardinal will be making its first-ever appearance in the Alamo Bowl.

The Holiday Bowl will pit No. 18 Washington State (9-3) against No. 16 Michigan State (9-3) of the Big Ten on Thurs., Dec. 28. It’s a repeat trip for the Cougars as they fell last year to Minnesota, 17-12, and their fourth appearance overall.

Arizona (7-5) has been selected by the Foster Farms Bowl to meet Purdue (6-6) of the Big Ten on Wed., Dec. 27. The Wildcats will be making their first appearance in the Foster Farms Bowl.

The Three remaining Pac-12 contracted bowls chose their participants based on order of final Conference standings. The Sun Bowl selected Arizona State (7-5) to face No. 24 North Carolina State (8-4) of the ACC on Fri., Dec. 29.

The Las Vegas Bowl will match Oregon (7-5) with Mountain West champion No. 25 Boise State (10-3) on Sat., Dec. 16.

The Cactus Bowl slots UCLA (6-6) against Big 12 opponent Kansas State (7-5) on Tues., Dec. 26.

The Pac-12 had an additional bowl eligible team and an agreement was made with the Heart of Dallas Bowl where Utah (6-6) will face West Virginia (7-5) of the Big 12 Conference.

By Staff of and news services

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