Conference championship weekend didn’t make anything easy on the College Football Playoff selection committee. There were some big decisions to make after some massive games, including one big upset with plenty of ramifications.
Now, the CFP field is set.
The final College Football Playoff rankings came out Sunday, starting with the top six. Of course, this is the last year of the four-team format with expansion coming next year. For now, though, four teams are in the field while two are out — and the national semifinals are now locked in.
How to watch the College Football Playoff semifinals
Date: Jan. 1
Channel: ESPN, FuboTV (streaming)
It had the makings for a long night for the committee as it weighed its decisions for the final rankings. Now, everything is finalized, and the final sprint to the national championship is ready to begin.
Michigan is finally No. 1 in the College Football Playoff rankings after Saturday night’s victory over Iowa in the Big Ten Championship. The Wolverines, making their third consecutive CFP appearance, will now look to get their first-ever Playoff victory with plenty of momentum behind them.
With Jim Harbaugh back on the sidelines, along with a talented offensive line and high-powered running game, Michigan continues to position itself for a run at the national championship. With a No. 1 ranking now on their resume, the road to Houston begins.
Washington had another monster year under second-year coach Kalen DeBoer. The Huskies are making their second-ever trip to the College Football Playoff after defeating Oregon for the second time — this time, in the Pac-12 Championship.
Michael Penix Jr. looks like a contender for the Heisman Trophy, and he made some big-time plays when it mattered in that championship game. His connection with Rome Odunze is a big reason for his success, and that’s sure to be something to watch entering the CFP.
Texas handled Oklahoma State with ease in Saturday’s Big 12 Championship to win its first conference title since 2009. Quinn Ewers turned in a record day at quarterback to lead the charge, and the Longhorns had to wait a bit to see if they’d wind up making their first-ever College Football Playoff appearance.
Texas’ offense is strong, but the defense also features plenty of playmakers who can wreak havoc on opposing teams. Of course, the health of Xavier Worthy will be paramount going forward after he left the Big 12 title game with an ankle injury — although Steve Sarkisian said X-Rays were negative, which bodes well.
Alabama presented an interesting case for the College Football Playoff committee. The Crimson Tide got the biggest victory of the year on Saturday by knocking off No. 1 Georgia in the SEC Championship, but they also had a notable loss to Texas in Week 2 by double digits at Bryant Denny Stadium.
Alabama has been rolling ever since, though, rattling off 11 straight wins as Jalen Milroe kicked things into gear at quarterback. The question coming into Sunday is what the committee would decide to do with the Crimson Tide, and we now know not only their CFP fate, but that of the SEC.
5. Florida State
At 13-0 — including a victory in Saturday’s ACC Championship — Florida State looked like a College Football Playoff team on paper. But it wasn’t so cut-and-dry for the Seminoles without quarterback Jordan Travis, and the committee also had to factor in Tate Rodemaker’s absence in that game against Louisville.
No undefeated A5 conference champion has ever been left out of the CFP, and as a result, the big conversation in the lead-up to Sunday’s reveal was if Florida State would be the first to suffer that fate. That was the case, and the Seminoles found themselves outside the top four.
Georgia went more than 700 days without a loss, but that all changed on Saturday when the Bulldogs lost to Alabama. That was the last team to beat UGA, doing so at the SEC Championship in 2021, and it happened again nearly two years later.
Kirby Smart pleaded his case to the College Football Playoff committee to get Georgia in the field, but the Bulldogs faced an uphill battle after losing the conference title game. Now, they become the first team to ever rank No. 1 in the penultimate rankings to fall out of the top four in the CFP’s history.
Now, the CFP picture is in focus after months of discussion and debate. It’s safe to say the conversation isn’t over yet, though, after the committee made the tough decisions when finalizing the rankings.