By Lauren Goodman
It is the inaugural season of the College Football Playoffs and the committee has set the final four bracket.
The new format did little to lessen the drama.
In the end, the Ohio State Buckeyes took the fourth seed and are set to take on the No. 1 seed, the Alabama Crimson Tide, in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. The Rose Bowl will host No. 2 Oregon and No. 3 Florida State. Both games will be held on New Year’s Day.
The twelve person selection committee, chaired by Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long, ultimately chose to drop the TCU Horned Frogs from the top four, after they finished the season 11-1 and co-champions of the Big 12.
The conference’s lack of a championship game could be blamed for both TCU and Baylor being left out of the top four. Ohio State’s huge 59-0 win over No. 13 Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game was enough to convince the committee that the Buckeyes deserved a chance to compete for a national championship.
The new playoff format consists of the four teams chosen by the committee playing in the two semifinal games.
The winners will compete for the national championship. This year, that game will take place Jan.12 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Conference ties to bowl games will be honored for the semifinal games, meaning each year, if ranked in the top four, teams will be matched to their bowl games accordingly. Conference champions will be placed in the other New Year’s bowls, the Orange, Fiesta, Cotton, and Peach.
This year, No. 5 Baylor takes on No. 8 Michigan State in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl. No. 6 TCU will play No. 9 Ole Miss in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. No. 7 Mississippi State is set to take on No. 12 Georgia Tech in the Capital One Orange Bowl. The VIZIO Fiesta Bowl will host No. 20 Boise State and No. 10 Arizona.
Alabama, which has been ranked No. 1 since week 13 of the season, finished the regular season 12-1 while facing a tough SEC schedule.
After winning at No. 1-ranked Mississippi State, Alabama began to show why it deserved to compete for a championship. Quarterback Blake Sims’ twenty-six touchdowns, Amari Cooper’s over 1,600 receiving yards, and T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry’s 343 combined carries put the Crimson Tide in the top position.
Urban Meyer’s Buckeyes will face their toughest opponent of the season in Alabama in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.
With young players at several positions, including quarterback, Meyer has been able to put together a surprising season. Their improvement over the season and proving their ability to win despite the hardships their program has seen over the season catapulted them to the top four.
Reigning national champion Florida State is the only undefeated team in the top four.
The program has also had its fair share of troubles this year, but managed to beat a No. 22-ranked Clemson in overtime early in the season and a No. 5-ranked Notre Dame in the final seconds during week seven of the season.
The Seminoles might feel slighted with how they have been perceived during the season, but they have a chance to prove everyone wrong by beating the high-powered offense of Oregon in the Rose Bowl.
The Ducks, led by quarterback Marcus Mariota, a favorite to win the Heisman Trophy, finished the regular season 12-1. Their only loss was to Arizona, who they handily beat 51-13 in their rematch at the Pac-12 Championship Game on Friday night.
Mariota threw for over 3,700 yards and had 14 rushing touchdowns over the season. The Seminoles will have their work cut out for them if they want to make it to the championship game in Arlington.