University of Georgia

No SEC? Unbeaten P5 but left out? Final 4-team College Football Playoff will be unlike any other

GEORGIA — The four-team version of the College Football Playoff is going out with drama and controversy.

Championship weekend created as many questions as answers for the CFP committee and the selections Sunday will be the first in the 10-year history of the system where the field is truly hard to predict.

No. 2 Michigan (13-0) and No. 3 Washington (13-0) appear to be safely in. There are three — and maybe even four — teams in contention for the final two spots that in most years would have cruised into the CFP.

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Not this year. And it won’t be a problem next year when the playoff expands to 12 teams.

No. 4 Florida State (13-0), No. 7 Texas (12-1) and No. 8 Alabama (12-1) gave the 13-member committee a lot to think about Saturday night.

The Seminoles finished a perfect regular season with an Atlantic Coast Conference championship, leaning on their defense to beat No. 15 Louisville while playing a third-string, freshman quarterback.

No unbeaten Power Five champion has ever been left out of the CFP, but with injured star quarterback Jordan Travis out for the season is Florida State really one of the four best teams?

“It’s entertaining to have the conversations, but I don’t think you need a conversation,” Florida State coach Mike Norvell told reporters. “This is a team that is deserving. This is a team that earned it.”

Here are few other things that have never happened before that very well might Sunday.

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— The No. 1 team heading into championship weekend had never missed the CFP, even with a loss. After losing to Alabama, top-ranked Georgia’s quest to become the first team to win three straight national titles is in critical condition.

“When you talk about the four best teams, watch the game,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “Go ask the NFL talent evaluators. Go ask NFL scouts. It’s about the best teams.”

The Bulldogs (12-1) had a 29-game winning streak snapped in the Southeastern Conference championship game, but they might not even be a big part of the committee’s discussion for one of the final two spots.

— No team ranked outside the top six of the second-to-last CFP rankings has ever jumped into the final four. Both Alabama and Texas, which romped over No. 19 Oklahoma State in the Big 12 championship game, have a chance to make that leap Sunday.

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— The SEC champion has never been left out of the College Football Playoff. Six times the CFP champion has been from the SEC and twice the conference has had both participants in the title game.

“So we’re the best teams, and do we want the best teams?” Smart asked.

The only thing that is certain heading into college football’s selection Sunday is that a few fanbases are bound to be unhappy with the committee’s choices.

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