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Bowlby’s Breakdown: The CFP committee got it right

The final (and most important) College Football Playoff rankings were released Sunday morning. After what you can imagine was hours of debate, I think the committee got the final rankings right:

No.1: Michigan (13-0)

No.2: Washington (13-0)

No.3: Texas (12-1)

No.4: Alabama (12-1)

No.5: Florida State (13-0)

No.6: Georgia (12-1)

For the first time since the inaugural CFP there was true drama after the games played out on Saturday, leaving the committee to make tough decisions and leave someone out Sunday morning. 

Everybody went to bed wondering if the committee would do the unthinkable and take the undefeated Power Five conference champion Florida State team and unseat them with Alabama, a 12-1 conference champion. 

People pondered. Was Washington’s statement in the PAC-12 conference title game enough to propel them ahead of Michigan for the CFP’s top spot? Where would Texas fall after dominating Oklahoma State? Was there any hope for the two-time defending National Champion Georgia?

All of the questions were answered Sunday morning and the CFP committee set up one of the most intriguing four-team playoffs since its inception in the 2013-14 season. 

Florida State had one thing over Alabama: an undefeated record. However, Alabama possesses a clear advantage in most areas both on the resume and with an eye test. 

A lone loss from week two at the hands of the No. 3 and now CFP-bound Texas is the only blemish on Alabama’s case for the CFP. An injury to Florida State’s star quarterback Jordan Travis seems to be the ultimate downfall of the Seminoles.

Still, the committee made the correct decision.

It was no doubt a difficult one, but Alabama at the end of week 13 was by far the better and more confident football team. Also, let it be noted that the committee does account for the injuries of star players. 

When looking at injuries, it is clear that Florida State had to be left out and Alabama had to be inserted into the final four. Another big piece of the decision is the strength of the schedule metric. According to the ESPN SOS metric, Alabama ranks fifth (the highest of the CFP top 6) and Florida State is down at 55. 

This is a stark difference, mainly thanks to Alabama playing in a much stronger SEC conference. The Tide have in-conference wins over No.15 Ole Miss, No.17 Tennessee, No.14 LSU and No.1 Georgia. 

Florida State has wins over No.5 LSU, No.16 Duke and No.14 Louisville. Florida State got their best win in week one over LSU and took down a hot Duke team mid-season. Unfortunately, losing Travis didn’t allow the Seminoles to maintain momentum in the final weeks of the season. 

On the contrary, Alabama has been building momentum. They shook off the early loss to Texas and have been getting better since. With only one scare on the road against Auburn, Alabama has been a confident group taking care of business. Everything culminated Saturday night when Alabama took down Georgia. That Georgia team had won 29 consecutive games, back-to-back national championships and had been a consensus No.1 team across the country. 

Alabama beat them in Atlanta and made their case to be selected into the CFP. The Tide made it impossible to be left out. How could a team that has the best win playing their best ball be kept from the final four?

It all came down to the argument of selecting the best four or selecting the most deserving four. The committee went with the best four after 13 weeks of play.

Whether you agree with the decision(s) the committee made or not, I think the most important thing to remember is that the committee is made up of 13 people.

People are going to, intentionally or not, look at everything as a collective. When breaking down the numbers and looking at each team, it cannot be done team by team in a vacuum. There are so many external factors, and all of the games interact with each other and have a significant impact on the perceived strength of every team.

It was one of the most difficult decisions the CFP committee has had to make, but at the end of the day, after 13 weeks of football, they put the four best teams right now into the four-team bracket.  

If picking four teams was difficult this season, next year when the playoff expands to 12 teams it’s going to be that much harder. 

Andrew Bowlby is a sophomore studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to share your thoughts about the column? Let Andrew know by tweeting him @andrew_bowlby.


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