Today is the day the College Football Playoff Selection Committee earns its keep.
They’ve been watching games all season, and since mid-season they’ve been issuing interim rankings after each weekend of play. But now the regular season games and the conference championship games are done, and it’s time to finally decide: which four teams should be in this year’s playoff?
Alabama is in, of course, as the number one seed. They romped through a pretty pathetic SEC without a loss and drubbed an offensively challenged Florida team in the SEC championship game. That’s an easy call. But who else do you select? One-loss Clemson won the weak ACC, edging out a pretty one-dimensional Virginia Tech team in last night’s championship game, and has looked good at times but bad at times, too. One-loss Washington played one of the easiest schedules in college football and won the PAC 12, beating up a hapless Colorado team in the championship game. Oklahoma, with two losses, won the defensively challenged Big 12.
And then there’s the Big 10. Ohio State played one of the toughest schedules in college football, smashed Big 12 champion Oklahoma on its home turf, and beat a series of top ten teams during the season, including winning a thrilling edition of The Game against Michigan. But because Ohio State lost at Penn State, on a blocked field goal in the fourth quarter, the Buckeyes didn’t play for the conference championship. Penn State did and won last night, coming from far behind to beat Wisconsin. But the Nittany Lions have two losses, one of which was a 39-point thrashing at the hands of That Team Up North.
So who should join Alabama in the playoffs? The dedicated members of Buckeye Nation obviously hope the Committee selects Ohio State, which was ranked number 2 after last week’s Committee vote. Should the Committee just pick the one-loss teams from the Power Five conferences, which means Ohio State, Clemson, and Washington should make the cut? Or should Penn State’s impressive run and conference championship knock out one of those teams? But how do you vault the two-loss Nittany Lions above two-loss Michigan, which beat Penn State like a drum early in the season?
Ohio State fans are wishing, and hoping, that the Buckeyes make the cut. Having watched a number of games with the top teams, I honestly think Ohio State is one of the top four teams — but I’m not on the committee. We’ll know at 12:30.