The College Football Playoff selection committee has announced their final rankings for the 2020 season, bringing excitement to some fanbases and heartbreak to others. The four teams selected to play in the College Football Playoff are Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, and Notre Dame. An unsurprising list of big name universities left fans of Texas A&M, Cincinatti, and Coastal Caronlina furious to prove they deserved a shot at the national championship. Despite the challenges presented in this wild college football season, these four teams managed to persevere and play winning football when it mattered most.
No. 1 Alabama
Prior to missing the College Football Playoff in 2019, the Alabama Crimson Tide had been one of the last four teams standing in each of the previous five seasons. This impressive pedigree, along with a dominate and undefeated 2020 season, makes their selection as the No. 1 seed very unsurpsiring. After being crowned the SEC champion with their win over rival Florida, Alabama was practically guaranteed to sit atop the final rankings. Their 11-0 record this season also earned them another reward from the selection committee. The No. 1 and No. 4 matchup was expected to be played at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, but increasing COVID-19 restrictions in that area would have prevented families of players and coaches from attending this momentous event. The game was moved to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, a venue that will allow 16,500 fans. This is a drastic gap between the 3,000 fans that will be allowed in the No. 3 versus No. 4 matchup at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in New Orleans, Louisiana. Earning the No. 1 seed and home field advantage after their one year playoff drought, the Crimson Tide head into the playoff with a target on their back.
No. 2 Clemson
The Clemson Tigers ended their season on a high note, crushing Notre Dame 34-10 in the ACC championship game and avenging their early-season loss to their conference rival. This statement victory was driven by future NFL quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who was unable to play in the Tigers first meeting with the Fighting Irish. With the shorthanded loss to an elite Notre Dame team being the only blemish on their 2020 resume, Clemson earned the No. 2 seed. Clemson, like Alabama, has only missed the College Football Playoff once, only failing to reach the sport’s most prestigious tournament in the format’s imagural season. When asked about the quick 12 day turnaround from selection sunday to the semifnal game, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney responded, “It’s very different to prepare, it’s basically like an open date”. Clemson takes on No. 3 Ohio State on January 1st, 2020.
No. 3 Ohio State
The Buckeyes are the cause of some controversy regarding this year’s selections. Despite an undefeated record, Ohio State only managed to play six games this season, a very small sample size compared to the double digit games played by most other schools in consideration for the playoff. While the Buckeyes have definitely played less games, they make up for it with consistency. They had been ranked inside the top four since the rankings began for the 2020 season. Ohio State is no stranger to the playoff either, as this marks their fourth selection since 2014. The matchup between Clemson and Ohio State this year will hopefully be equally as entertaining as last year’s semi final matchup between the two, which ended in a 29-23 win by Clemson.
No. 4 Notre Dame
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish mainted their undefeated record into the last game of the season, but were easily defeated in the ACC championship game by a Clemson team back at full strength. Despite this, Notre Dame still points to their difficult wins versus Clemson earlier in the season and a top-25 North Carolina team on the road as reasons for their selection. Led by quarterback Ian Book, the Fighting Irish look to prove that they deserve to be here after earning a playoff spot for the second time in three years. The ACC is only the second league to boast two teams in the playoff, following the SEC in 2017. The Fighting Irish and head coach Brian Kelly look to take down the Nick Saban-led Crimson Tide in Arlington on January 1st, 2020.
The most notable team left out of the playoff picture is the Texas A&M Aggies, a team that posted an impressive 8-1 record in 2020. Their only loss of the season was a 28 point beatdown at the hands of Alabama back in October, but with only one win against a top 25 team (Florida) the Aggies were listed behind Notre Dame in the seasons final rankings. Coach Jimbo Fisher responded to his team’s snub by calling out Ohio State’s lack of games played, “[We have] Seven straight SEC wins, some schools ain’t even playing seven games”.
Other universities holding grudges against the selection committee include the Cincinatti Bearcats and the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers, as both teams finished the 2020 season with undefeated records. Cincinatti, 9-0, and Coastal Carolina, 11-0, were most likely left out of the playoff due to weaker opponents in less respected confereces.
Alabama (-17.5) and Clemson (-6.5) are the early favorites for the semifinal games.