The final four of the College Football Playoff is set. Conference championships are done and set in stone with the Alabama Crimson Tide claiming the SEC, the Clemson Tigers winning the ACC, the Washington Huskies capturing the throne in the Pac-12 and the Penn State Nittany Lions emerging from nowhere to walk away as the Big Ten champions, in dramatic fashion of course.
However, the 12-person panel that is the College Football Playoff committee were the ultimate decision makers as to who made the cut and who were left disappointed. In controversial fashion, they collectively decided on the following as this year’s College Football Playoff:
- Alabama Crimson Tide
- Clemson Tigers
- Ohio State Buckeyes
- Washington Huskies
With those four programs being the lucky ones, here are the key takeaways from the establishing of the four College Football Playoff teams.
- The Buckeyes were the key note taken from the committee’s ultimate decision as they were the only team out of the four to not own a conference championship, nor even compete in a championship game setting this season. What got the Buckeyes in the CFP were wins over Oklahoma, Wisconsin, and Michigan during the regular season. Three teams were ranked top 10 at the time of the Buckeyes defeating them. This is obviously an indication that the committee valued big, marquee wins over conference titles. Not to mention that Ohio State has one-loss compared to two for Penn State. It’s difficult to say the committee did not select the four best teams as Ohio State has been one of the hottest teams in recent weeks but this is without a doubt a controversial move by the panel.
- This also shows that teams will have to pry away from having powderpuff teams during the regular season and place more of an emphasis building up their non-conference schedules. Expect to see teams transition away from making the schedule “easier” in the future when it comes to scheduling.
- The Huskies have a mountain of a team placed in front of them with Alabama looking dominating. It will be interesting to see how the dynamic Washington offense, led by quarterback Jake Browning and wide out John Ross III, attacks the Crimson Tide defense. Keep in mind that Alabama head coach Nick Saban has roughly four weeks to prepare for the high-scoring which places the advantage clearly in favor of the legendary Saban.
- For the second year in a row, the Clemson Tigers find themselves in the Playoff bracket and make no mistake, the Tigers are capable of winning it all. Behind an offense that is led by Heisman candidate Deshaun Watson and his plethora of weapons at the skill positions, the Tigers are dangerous and are peaking at the right time.
- For those who like match-ups within a game, Clemson wide receivers Mike Williams, Artavis Scott, Ray-Ray McCloud, and Deon Cain vs. Ohio State defensive backs Gareon Conley, Marshon Lattimore, Malik Hooker, and Damon Webb will be the price of admission and arguably the marquee matchup of the entire game. The outcome of Clemson/Ohio State will hinge a lot on the battle between these two groups.
- The 2016 Big Ten champions Penn State Nittany Lions were the unfortunate Power 5 conference champion that is on the outside looking in. In the manner that the Nittany Lions captured the Big Ten title, you could not help but be impressed with the young team. Their win over Wisconsin in the championship was convincing enough in my eyes to earn a slot over Ohio State, a team that they beat several weeks back. What hurt the team ultimately were two critical losses (to unranked Pittsburgh, 39-point loss to Michigan) and a rather weak non-conference schedule, although they did beat AAC champion Temple. The team will have to “settle” for a spot in the Rose Bowl against USC instead but Penn State made a convincing argument this season to be a College Football Playoff participant.