After months of anticipation, we have our four College Football Playoff teams.
1. Clemson (12-1) – For the third consecutive year, Clemson has made the College Football Playoff. It is the second time the Tigers have been the No. 1 overall seed, as they also claimed the top spot in 2015. A decisive 38-3 ACC Championship victory over Miami sealed the deal for Clemson, which only has one blemish on its resume, a 27-24 road loss to Syracuse in a game in which Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant was injured.
Bryant has been excellent in the six games since the Syracuse loss, completing 125-of-186 passes (67 percent) for 1,303 yards, nine touchdowns and just two interceptions. Clemson entered selection day with eight wins over teams with a .500 or better record, including victories over Auburn and Miami.
2. Oklahoma (12-1) – Even after a home loss to Iowa State, Oklahoma has remained within striking distance of the top four spots in the playoff rankings. The Sooners haven’t been ranked worse than No. 5 since the selection committee unveiled their initial 2017 rankings in Week 10. Oklahoma’s resume only improved since then, with wins over Oklahoma State, TCU (twice, including in the Big 12 Championship), and West Virginia. Plus, the Sooners have one of the most impressive victories of the entire college football season, a 31-16 rout of Ohio State in Columbus.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield is playing like the Heisman Trophy frontrunner and Oklahoma’s offense is a well-oiled machine at this point. While the loss to Iowa State was a shocker at the time, the Cyclones finished the regular season with a respectable 7-5 record. Oklahoma makes the playoff for the second time, its first appearance since 2015.
The #CFBPlayoff is set!
— NCAA Football (@NCAAFootball) December 3, 2017
3. Georgia (12-1) – The Bulldogs made the jump from No. 6 to No. 2 after a decisive victory over Auburn in the SEC Championship. They avenged their only loss of the season, a 40-17 defeat at Auburn on Nov. 11. Georgia put itself in position to make the playoff after a road win over Notre Dame in Week 2 and with the exception of their loss to the Tigers, the Bulldogs rolled through SEC play, winning by an average of 29 points in their seven regular season SEC victories.
Georgia is the first non-Alabama SEC team to make the College Football Playoff.
4. Alabama (11-1) – There was no way the committee could leave out a one-loss Alabama, right? Before the Crimson Tide’s road loss at Auburn, they had been ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in every edition of this year’s playoff rankings. The Tigers were the hottest team in the country in November, taking down two No. 1 teams at home, so a 26-14 loss to Auburn certainly isn’t the worst loss among the teams in the playoff field. After Saturday’s conference championship games, the question was whether the committee would value better wins and a conference title (Ohio State) or fewer losses and perhaps a more convincing eye test (Alabama). Well, we found out the answer Sunday afternoon.
Despite not playing in the SEC Championship and a relative lack of perceived quality wins, Alabama beat Florida State when the Seminoles were ranked No. 3 in the AP Top 25 Poll, in addition to wins over LSU and Mississippi State. While it took an 11th hour decision by the committee to keep Alabama’s playoff streak alive, the Crimson Tide make the playoff for the fourth consecutive year. This is their lowest final ranking in the playoff era, after entering the playoff ranked No. 1 in 2014 and 2016, and No. 2 in 2015.
Who missed the cut?
5. Ohio State