Playoff field set: Georgia vs. Ohio State; Michigan vs. TCU

Getty Images
0 Comments

Georgia, Michigan, TCU and Ohio State were chosen Sunday to play in the College Football Playoff, giving the Big Ten multiple teams in the four-team field for the first time.

The defending national champion and top-ranked Bulldogs and fourth-seeded Buckeyes will meet Dec. 31 at the Peach Bowl in Atlanta. The second-seeded Wolverines and third-ranked Horned Frogs, the lone first-timer in the final four, will play at the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Arizona, the same day.

The national championship game is scheduled for Jan. 10 at Sofi Stadium in Inglewood, California, and it could a rematch of Big Ten rivals Ohio State and Michigan. The rivalry dates to 1902, but the Buckeyes and Wolverines have never played outside of their annual regular-season game.

With some drama, but not much controversy, the CFP selection committee’s top four fell into place over the championship weekend. The most interesting part of the unveiling was whether the committee would pair Michigan and Ohio State in the semifinals and if Alabama might be able to slip in as the first two-loss playoff team.

In the end, the committee sprung no surprises.

Georgia (13-0) won the Southeastern Conference championship game in a rout and coach Michigan (13-0) similar took the the Big Ten title.

TCU (12-1) suffered is first loss of the season in the Big 12 championship, falling in overtime to Kansas State. The loss made it an uneasy night for Heisman Trophy contender Max Duggan and the Horned Frogs, but in the end they had already built enough equity during their improbable season to stay in the top four.

Ohio State (11-1) was given a second life in the playoff race when Southern California lost the Pac-12 championship game Friday night. A week after star quarterback C.J. Stroud and the Buckeyes lost at home to coach Jim Harbaugh and Michigan, they slipped into the final playoff spot, the best of a flawed batch of contenders.

Alabama (10-2) was fifth in the committee rankings, missing the CFP for just the second time in its nine-year history. The Crimson Tide, with a little lobbying from coach Nick Saban, were hoping to become the first team to lose two games and make the playoff.

The committee instead simply moved Ohio State from fifth last week to fourth this week, setting up just the second matchup ever between the Bulldogs and Buckeyes. The only time Georgia and Ohio State have played was in the 1992 Citrus Bowl, a Buckeyes’ victory.

For Georgia, it is the second straight CFP appearance and third overall. This time, though, coach Kirby Smart’s Bulldogs enter as the No. 1 team and clear favorite after following up last season’s national title with a perfect season.

Stetson Bennett and the ’Dawgs will try to become the first team to repeat as College Football Playoff champions.

Ohio State is making its fifth playoff appearance. The last time the Buckeyes were the fourth seed was 2014, when they won their last national title.

Michigan is in for the second time, again as the second seed after losing to Georgia in the Orange Bowl last season.

TCU becomes just the 13th different school make the field in nine years. That lack of variety is one of the main reasons the CFP will be expanding to 12 teams in the 2024 season.

The Horned Frogs, whose only national title came in 1938, have never played Michigan.

Ohio State is No. 5 in second-to-last CFP rankings behind USC

Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images
2 Comments

Ohio State was No. 5 in the second-to-last College Football Playoff rankings, positioned to possibly take advantage if one of the top four slips up on championship weekend.

Georgia (12-0) was No. 1 again. No. 2 Michigan (12-0) and No. 3 TCU (12-0) both moved up a spot and Southern California (11-1) climbed two spots into the fourth slot.

The Buckeyes (11-1) dropped three spots after losing 45-23 to the rival Wolverines on Saturday at home.

Alabama (10-2) moved up a spot to No. 6 and was followed by Southeastern Conference rival Tennessee, which beat the Crimson Tide in October.

All play in their conference championships game this weekend. The undefeated teams might not need to win this weekend to lock up a spot.

Georgia plays LSU (9-3) in the SEC title game. Michigan plays Purdue (8-4) for the Big Ten championship. TCU faces Kansas State, which is 10th in the latest rankings and has already lost to the surprising Horned Frogs.

USC and Heisman Trophy frontrunner Caleb Williams face Utah, No. 11 in the rankings, on Friday night in Las Vegas for the Pac-12 championship.

If the Trojans slip up, that could give Ohio State a second chance.

LSU, USC move up behind UGA, Ohio State, Michigan, TCU in CFP

LSU v Arkansas
Getty Images
1 Comment

LSU moved up to fifth and Southern California was sixth Tuesday night in the College Football Playoff rankings behind Georgia, Ohio State, Michigan and TCU.

The top four remained the same for the third straight week, but the chasing teams changed order after Tennessee lost to South Carolina last Saturday night.

Selection committee chairman Boo Corrigan, who is also the athletic director at North Carolina State, said there was a lot of discussion about LSU (9-2) and USC (10-1) this week.

“The committee at the end of the day, saw the wins over Alabama, Mississippi (for LSU) as stronger than the wins over UCLA and Oregon State (for USC),” Corrigan said. “The one area we still have questions on is the strength of the defense of USC and looking at it in its entirety, we believe that LSU deserves to be ranked five and SC six.”

Two games this weekend could create more clarity.

Michigan (11-0) is at Ohio State (11-0) on Saturday and USC hosts Notre Dame (8-3), which checked in at 15th in the selection committee’s rankings.

There are two more rankings left. The final ones on Dec. 4 set the field for the College Football Playoff. The semifinals will be played Dec. 31 in the Peach and Fiesta bowls. The national championship game will be played at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California.

Alabama was seventh, though the Crimson Tide don’t seem to have a realistic route to make the College Football Playoff for the eight time in nine years. LSU and Georgia are already locked into the Southeastern Conference title game.

Clemson came in eighth, Oregon was ninth and Tennessee fell to 10th.

ANALYSIS

Georgia (11-0), the winner of the Ohio State-Michigan game, TCU (11-0) and LSU will head into the final two weeks of the race in the best shape to earn a spot in the final four.

That’s probably overstating LSU’s position because the Tigers would have to beat the defending national champion Bulldogs to become the first team to make the CFP with two losses.

But they have a shot and that’s all you can ask for at this point in the season.

USC fans might not like seeing the Trojans behind an SEC team with two losses, but they shouldn’t fret too much.

If Georgia takes care of business against LSU, that opens up a spot for USC – if the Trojans can win out. That will be difficult against Notre Dame and either Oregon, Utah or Washington in the Pac-12 title game.

As for the Ohio State-Michigan loser, how the game plays out will go a long way toward determining if that team can take a back door into the final four. It’s also going to need some losses sprinkled around among TCU, USC and LSU.

The Buckeyes are probably better positioned to get in with a loss in the rivalry game because that opening-night win against Notre Dame is looking pretty good these days and would only go up in value of the Irish beat USC.

Michigan’s terrible nonconference schedule (Colorado State, Hawaii and UConn) is continually cited as a mark against the Wolverines.

Then there is Clemson (10-1).

Even if the Tigers finish as 12-1 Atlantic Coast Conference champions, they’re going to need some help in the form of losses by at least two of USC, LSU and TCU.

Getting drilled by Notre Dame could be tough to overcome for Clemson if both Ohio State and USC have wins against the Irish on their resumes.