After a see-saw end to the college football season in which Auburn University defeated number one Georgia and number one Alabama, only to lose in a rematch to Georgia in the SEC Championship game, this year’s College Football Playoff (CFP) is set.
Clemson enters as the number one seed as the defending National Champions romped the University of Miami in the ACC title game.
Here’s the College Football Playoff field:
Clemson (12-1) is the number one seed and will play number four seed Alabama (11-1) in the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day.
Oklahoma (12-1), which defeated TCU in the Big 12 title game, is the number two seed and will face number three seed Georgia (12-1) in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day.
Despite not winning the SEC Championship, the one-loss Crimson Tide was selected for the four-seed spot over Ohio State, which won the Big Ten title game over undefeated Wisconsin. Ohio State won its conference but saw its hopes dashed by two losses earlier in the season — by 15 to Oklahoma and 31 to Iowa. Alabama’s lone loss was to No. 7 Auburn on the road.
“As we saw Alabama play week in and week out, the selection committee believed Alabama was the better football team,” said College Football Playoff committee chairman Kirby Hocutt after the announcement on 3 December. “When we looked at Ohio State, their resume it was impressive but it wasn’t enough for the selection committee to place them in above Alabama.
“We don’t look at conference affiliation. We look at the four best teams.”
No two-loss teams made the playoff, despite passionate arguments in sport circles regarding strength of schedule among potential playoff teams.
The playoffs promise to provide several interesting story lines:
- Clemson and Alabama will play in a semi-final game, replicating the past two years of CFP National Championships, won by Alabama in 2015-16 and Clemson in 2016-17. Since the two teams play in the semi-finals, there will be no re-match in the Championship.
- Since Alabama and Georgia both hail from the SEC, semi-final wins by the two teams would mean the first Championship game between two teams of the same conference since the CFP system began in 2014-2015.
- This year could be the first that a previous CFP National Champion won a second Championship. The three National Champions to date, in order, are Ohio State (2014-15), Alabama (2015-16) and Clemson (2016-17), two of which are in this year’s playoffs.
The College Football Playoff is an annual postseason tournament to determine the national champion of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)’s Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), the highest level of college football in the United States. The inaugural tournament was held during the 2014 NCAA Division I FBS football season. Four teams play in two semifinal games, and the winner of each semifinal advances to the College Football Playoff National Championship. A 13-member committee selects and seeds the four teams to take part.
This year’s College Football Playoff National Championship game is set for Monday, 8 January 2017, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Ga.
By Keith Ayers
Keith Ayers is the Communications Director at the United States Sports Academy.