Written by: John Stocco
College Football Playoff talk is finally here and the committee has released its first four teams in the College Football Playoff on Tuesday night. There’s a shocker involved, and after Saturday, there could be a few more. The first four were announced as-is: Ohio State, LSU, Alabama, and Penn State. Now I’ve been high on Penn State all year, but I honestly could not believe it when the committee ranked them over Clemson. I thought Ohio State, LSU, Alabama, and Clemson as the first four was a mortal lock. What was the committee thinking?
Well for one, I think they know, and we all know that Clemson is going undefeated this year. They play nobody and you might as well just hand them the ACC Championship at this point. Ultimately Clemson will end up being in the final four playing for a chance at another National Championship. This was the committee sending Clemson a message. This won’t be easy for them even if they go undefeated because of their weak conference. They have to dominate teams, and they have to sweep through the ACC.
The Game of the Year takes place this Saturday. #2 LSU takes on #3 Alabama in a game that has championship implications. It is for all the marbles, it is for a spot in the SEC championship game, and it is for a definite spot in the College Football Playoff. It doesn’t get much bigger and better than this. Honestly, I wish this was the National Championship game, but if Alabama loses, can they really miss the playoffs as a whole? It’s looking that way. Alabama has one of the most talented teams in the nation, if not the most talented, but the overall body of work isn’t there. They’ve played nobody and they’ve beaten nobody impressive. This is where the committee gets put into a pickle. Do they value the talent on a team, or do they value the overall body of work when you look at who they’ve beaten over the course of this season? If Alabama wins, it doesn’t hurt LSU as much. LSU has earned a spot in the College Football Playoff by having the three best wins out of any team in College Football, and with a loss to Alabama, they’ll own the best loss if that makes any sense. If Alabama loses though, everything changes. They’ll lose their shot at playing in the SEC Championship, and their most impressive game that is left on their schedule is Auburn who have already lost to LSU, Florida, and potentially Georgia next Saturday. So a one-loss Alabama team can miss the College Football Playoff? Yes. Say if everything goes according to plan where LSU beats Alabama, Georgia beats Auburn, and in the SEC Championship game, Georgia beats LSU. Alabama will be gone because there’s no way the committee will put a one-loss SEC team who lost to LSU and didn’t even play in the SEC Championship game in the College Football Playoff over an undefeated Clemson. For the first time in a long time, Alabama is in trouble, and their star quarterback isn’t even healthy. The end could be near.
Where does that leave us for the rest of the field? The committee showed a lot of love for the Big Ten. Penn State is a legitimate threat to Ohio State, and this Saturday they can add to their impressive resume with a road win against Minnesota. To me, what I found fascinating and sort of more disrespect to the Pac 12 and Oregon was how the committee ranked Georgia ahead of Oregon. As much as I was right about Penn State I was really wrong about Georgia. I like Fromm, I like Swift, but they’ve lost too much talent to the NFL and the inexperience and bad play is showing. Overall, neutral field, I think Oregon beats Georgia. Herbert has played much better, their defense is one of the best in the nation, and their wins are more impressive. Losing to South Carolina was awful for Georgia, but Oregon losing to Auburn week one shouldn’t even matter. Oregon should have been ranked ahead of Georgia and should get serious consideration at being one of the final four teams if they win the Pac 12.
Penn State vs. Minnesota, and LSU vs. Alabama. First I just wanna say it’s so weird to see Minnesota in the same sentence as those teams, but second and most importantly, championships stakes are on the line this Saturday.