Going into conference championship weekend, there was a chance for this year’s College Football Playoff to be a very simple decision from the committee. Wins by Georgia, Michigan, TCU, and USC in their respective conference championship games would’ve ensured those four would play for the national title.
However, after USC got smoked by Utah on Friday night and TCU took a gutting overtime loss on Saturday afternoon, the committee suddenly found itself having some very difficult decisions to make. After a week of talk about how we might finally get a Playoff without Alabama, Ohio State, or Clemson, the Tide and the Buckeyes were thrust back into discussion by USC and TCU faltering. Most observers believed the Horned Frogs deserved to remain in the field given it was their first loss, with the question being who would replace USC.
Ohio State’s case was that their lone loss was to the No. 2 team in the country, where they were competitive for three quarters before the floodgates opened. For Alabama, the argument is they suffered their two losses on the road by a combined 4 points against top-15 opponents, but they needed the committee to be really invested in power ratings to jump either Ohio State or TCU for that final spot.
Ultimately, it was the Buckeyes that won out on the final spot, with TCU remaining at No. 3 despite their loss, setting up a very intriguing pair of semifinals in Atlanta and Phoenix.
PEACH BOWL (Dec. 31, 8 p.m. ET): 1. Georgia vs. 4. Ohio State
FIESTA BOWL (Dec. 31, 4 p.m. ET): 2. Michigan vs. 3. TCU
Georgia-Ohio State is the type of matchup you’d expect to see in a national title game and the Buckeyes will have to prove they can handle the physicality of Georgia after they got leaned on and eventually broken down by a similarly tough Michigan team in their lone loss of the season. The Wolverines, meanwhile, avoid having to have the immediate rematch with the Buckeyes and take on a TCU team that simply never goes away, and will present a unique challenge this Michigan team hasn’t faced yet.
Alabama finished fifth, with Tennessee finishing sixth, as they both leaped above USC in the final rankings.