The inaugural College Football Playoff is finally upon us, but it didn’t come without some controversy from the playoff committee. Despite Baylor winning the head-to-head matchup over TCU, the Big 12 named both teams “co-champions” after each finished the regular season 11-1. Instead of trying to determine which Big 12 team was more worthy of a playoff spot, the committee left both schools out in favor of Ohio State. The Buckeyes jaw-dropping 59-0 beatdown of Wisconsin certainly helped out the committee’s decision.
However, let’s be honest here. If the two 11-1 Big 12 teams were Oklahoma and Texas with the same resumes as TCU and Baylor, does the playoff committee still leave both teams out? If the 12-1 Big Ten champ was someone like Illinois or Northwestern, does the committee still put them in ahead of both Big 12 teams? The terms “brand name” or “powerhouse team” certainly need to be addressed here. Did the committee consider factors such as “Which matchups would be best for TV ratings?” or “Which schools have the larger fan bases that would bring in more money?” I don’t want this playoff to be all about politics every year and each team trying to come up with ways to persuade the committee that they belong. That’s one of the reasons why so many people didn’t like the BCS. The four best teams should be in, no matter who they are. I’m not necessarily saying that Ohio State didn’t deserve to be in ahead of TCU or Baylor, but the committee should be completely blind and neutral to a school’s name, their history, and the size of their fan base.
Regardless of debate, this year’s playoff gives us two iconic matchups. The Rose Bowl will feature the last two Heisman trophy winners in Oregon’s Marcus Mariota and Florida State’s Jameis Winston, while the Sugar Bowl features two of the best coaches in college football with Alabama’s Nick Saban and Ohio State’s Urban Meyer. I feel like the Rose Bowl is the ultimate toss-up game. Despite Florida State’s struggles all season long, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they pull off the win over Oregon. Few teams like the Seminoles, and players like Winston are better in clutch situations. This team just refuses to lose, but they haven’t faced a team quite like Oregon this year. As for the Sugar Bowl, we’ve seen Alabama struggle away from home this season and I think Ohio State has the talent to compete with the Tide, but I just don’t see any scenario where Alabama doesn’t come out with a win. While I’m confident Urban Meyer will have his team ready to play, I’m giving the edge to the Tide.
I’ll go with Alabama over Ohio State 31-24, and Oregon over FSU 38-35 in the semifinal games. Last season, we saw Auburn survive an early season loss to reach the BCS title game, only to come up just short against FSU. I see a similar thing happening for Alabama. Having 30 days to prepare for Oregon’s offense is one thing. Having only one week to prepare after a semifinal game is another. If Auburn’s fast-paced offense can put up 44 points and 630 total yards against Alabama, what cold the Ducks do? I’m rolling with Marcus Mariota and the Ducks to pull of the upset in the national championship, 41-38. Besides, “Lane Kiffin: National Champion” just doesn’t have a nice ring to it.