The final rankings posted by the College Football Playoff committee put Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Ohio State (ranked by that order) in the playoff and a chance to win the national championship, with the Rose Bowl hosting the semifinal between the Ducks and the Seminoles, while the Sugar Bowl will be the venue for the meeting between the Crimson Tide and the Buckeyes.
If anyone was blindsided by this choice, they weren’t paying enough attention. The Big 12 was always going to be left out as long as its champion(s) had the same amount of losses as someone from another conference. The Big 12 doesn’t have the best reputation in terms of quality and especially in years when Oklahoma and Texas, the two schools with some national power and recognition, don’t really make a very good impression.
TCU and Baylor can act surprised. The Big 12 commissioner can act surprised. The fact is that it’s just an act. The moment Ohio State beat Michigan State, that fourth and final spot was theirs for the taking. The committee wasn’t going to let two SEC teams, let alone from the same division, make it into the top 4. Oregon only had to keep on winning, and Florida State, despite the committee’s clear disdain for them and their unimpressive road to perfection this season, weren’t going to be left out as long as they didn’t lose.
But the Big 12? No championship game and not having a ‘one true champion’ really hurt them. Ohio State impressed on a ‘grand final’ kind of game. Baylor finished the season with a nice win over Kansas State. TCU didn’t leave much of an impression when they routed Iowa State. The Buckeyes, with a third-string quarterback, crushed Wisconsin 59-0. Maybe it says something about the Big Ten, but it doesn’t matter: With SOS very similar, it’s about making an impression. Having a better legacy doesn’t hurt as well.
The rest of the top 25? Well it doesn’t really matter. Maybe for those interested in the pairings for the New Year’s Bowls, which will include both the Bears and the Horned Frogs, although it serves as no consolation to them. It’s weird to see no Oklahoma or Texas in the final top 25, but Texas were out of the picture this entire season, while the Sooners blew it on every big game this season except for their clash with the Longhorns. The Big 12 needs its power-teams to do a bit better in order for the conference to get a bit more appeal among voters.