Some of the hotter takes in the sporting world right now come from the college football realm. The College Football Playoff selection committee announced the four teams that would be battling for NCAA supremacy, and, as always, there’s plenty of whining and bickering to go around.
Put your torches and pitchforks away, Penn State fans. The committee got it right.
Come Dec. 31, we’ll see Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Washington duke it out in two semifinal games. On Jan. 9, the two semifinal winners will head to Tampa, Florida, in hopes of hoisting the championship trophy.
So how do the four teams stack up, and how did they get there?
First of all, let’s get this out of the way. All season long there have been a heaping pile of teams competing for three of the four spots. Alabama has been a lock and always will be a lock as long as Nick Saban keeps loading his roster with Big Mac eating, 300-pound high schoolers who run 4.5 40-yard dashes.
Congrats, guys! You were selected as one of the teams to get its butt kicked by the Tide!
Clemson, the No. 2 team in the rankings, was pretty much a lock, as well. The Tigers were in the National Championship a year ago, returned most of their key players and simply had to best Florida State and, early on, Louisville, in the ACC. They did that, no problem. Their only loss was a 43-42 defeat against Pitt.
The final two teams, Ohio State and Washington, have caused a bit more of a stir.
While Washington also lost just one game — 26-13 to USC — most have complained about the lackluster Pac-12 and Washington’s rather easy road to the playoffs. But the Huskies did what they needed to along that road; they beat the crap out of everybody.
A 44-6 win over Stanford; 70-21 over Oregon; 45-17 over Washington St.; 41-10 over Colorado.
Three of those four teams were ranked in the top 25 at the time, and two were in the top 10. Oregon had a very disappointing season, but it’s still Oregon, and it was on the road. And, yeah, Washington won by 49.
To me, Washington earned it and frankly has been overlooked. The Pac-12 champs are going to get creamed by Alabama in the Peach Bowl, but they earned the right to do so.
That leaves Ohio State, the first team ever selected to the playoffs having not won its conference championship.
The committee claims to put a ton of weight on conference championships, and Penn State fans have conveniently done the same. The Nittany Lions won the Big Ten title and knocked off Ohio State in the regular season. Why didn’t they have the edge over the Buckeyes?
Listen, I get it. That’s a valid argument, and Penn State fans have a right to moan and groan. But Ohio State’s resume was more impressive despite its lack of a title.
The Buckeyes went 11-1, the only loss being that 3-point loss at Penn State, a brutal environment. They obliterated Oklahoma — another near-playoff team — on the road, beat Nebraska and Maryland by 60 in back-to-back weeks and capped off the season with a double-overtime instant-classic win over rival Michigan.
Penn State lost twice — a blowout to Michigan and to Pitt in Week 2. The rest of the schedule wasn’t nearly as impressive.
So why don’t we just make it an eight-team playoff?
Then we’d hear complaints from the ninth team. There will always be somebody left out.
Side note: Why doesn’t undefeated Western Michigan get a shot at the CFP? It has more of an argument than Penn State, in my opinion.
An eight-team playoff adds another week to the season, most likely eliminating a nonconference game from everyone’s schedule, giving the committee less to look at when selecting the teams and leaving us right where we are now.
Are these the four best teams in the country? Maybe not. But based on the jumble of variables thrown into the blender when choosing, it’s difficult to say they aren’t the four best.
There’s only one way to guarantee a trip to the playoffs: win. Roll Tide.
Alabama 38, Washington 14
Ohio State 30, Clemson 27
Alabama 42, Ohio State 35