It all lies in the hands of the College Football Playoff Selection Committee now.
After 16 weeks of the 2020 college football season, the College Football Playoff field and the New Year’s Six bowls will be set on Sunday afternoon.
This was the strangest year of our lives, so it is only fitting for the College Football Playoff selection process to be as confusing as possible. As it is in most years, three teams are obviously getting in, but what makes 2020 so compelling is the amount of teams who could realistically argue for that last spot in. Here are the four teams getting in and the first two teams out in 2020.
Projected College Football Playoff teams
This should come as a surprise to absolutely no one. The Alabama Crimson Tide will be the No. 1 team in the playoff field with a bullet. This is the best team in the country by a wide margin and everyone knows it. They were able to hold on to beat the Florida Gators in the SEC Championship game. The Crimson Tide will opt to play in the Sugar Bowl as the No. 1 overall seed this year.
The three-headed offensive monster of quarterback Mac Jones, running back Najee Harris and Heisman Trophy frontrunner DeVonta Smith cannot be stopped, especially with offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian drawing up the plays. With the defense more than rounding into form, this may go down as one of the greatest teams in the history of college football for all we know.
The Clemson Tigers needed to win the ACC Championship game over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish to make the College Football Playoff for the sixth year in a row. Not only did the Tigers take care of business, but they simultaneously put the Golden Domers’ playoff dreams on life support. Clemson will rightfully earn the No. 2 seed in play in whatever variation of the Rose Bowl this year.
This was the best game of Clemson’s season. They played a full four quarters of dominating football. Quarterback Trevor Lawrence played so well that he may have forced himself back into the Heisman Trophy conversation. Okay, he is not winning the Heisman, but Lawrence is in a great position to play in his third national title bout, possibly winning it all again before he turns pro.
It was not pretty, but the Ohio State Buckeyes did enough when it counted to beat the Northwestern Wildcats in the Big Ten Championship game. Because Ohio State was the No. 4 seed entering the penultimate College Football Playoff rankings, they will make the four-team field as an undefeated Power 5 champion at 6-0. In fact, they will move up to No. 3 to face Clemson again.
Do not expect an all-time classic like we saw in last year’s national semifinals between these two blue-bloods. Ohio State has largely skated by on past reputation to get to this point. Clemson will steam roll the Buckeyes in the Rose Bowl. Then again, Ohio State does have two strong wins on the year over the Indiana Hoosiers and Northwestern. This is a playoff team and nothing more.
Figuring out who No. 4 should be will keep the Selection Committee up all night. They have to decide if it will put a one-loss, non-champion who got blown out the night before (Notre Dame) over a one-loss, non-champion who did not win its division (Texas A&M), a two-loss Power 5 champion (Oklahoma) or an undefeated conference champion out of the Group of 5 (Cincinnati).
The answer should be obvious, but at its very core, the College Football Playoff is a television show. Simply put, there is no team truly deserving to keep Notre Dame out of the playoff picture. The Irish will face Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and will get humiliated. We are not getting a rematch between the Tide and the Aggies, no matter how much Jimbo Fisher begs for it to happen.
First two teams out
This will be the toughest team for the Selection Committee to keep out. Texas A&M has played some outstanding ball as the second-best team in the best conference in the sport. Unfortunately, wiping the floor with the utterly toothless Tennessee Volunteers is not going to move the needle enough to merit their inclusion. The Selection Committee will not make them the No. 4 seed here.
Texas A&M needed Notre Dame to take care of business vs. Clemson to ensure they would make the four-team field. While a rematch with Alabama would be an utter snoozefest outside of the SEC footprint, they would have done enough to earn the No. 4 seed in that circumstance. For now, the Aggies will have to settle for a New Year’s Six bowl and a postseason of what could have been.
It may come as a bit of a shock, but the Oklahoma Sooner will leapfrog a handful of teams in the final playoff rankings, going from No. 10 all the way up to No. 6. This will be because it beat the No. 6 Iowa State Cyclones in the Big 12 Championship game, No. 7 Florida losing to Alabama and the No. 8 Georgia Bulldogs not playing a game. Too bad for No. 9 the Cincinnati Bearcats…
The idea about Oklahoma being one of the first two teams out is it will be a blue-blood program, poised to be the first two-loss team to maybe think about getting into the playoff. Unfortunately, the ACC and SEC had too many good teams for them to seriously be considered for it. They will have to settle for the Cotton Bowl Classic and play some team like Florida in Arlington, Texas.
So where will people have the biggest gripes about the playoff field? There will be factions of Gig Em Nation demanding they belong in over Notre Dame. While Oklahoma may argue they belong in, nobody will believe them. But perhaps the biggest gripe of all will be from one of the many undefeated Group of 5 teams we had readily available. Unfortunately, they had no shot anyway.
Here is to the College Football Playoff Selection Committee picking the right four for this season.