The inaugural College Football Playoff is over with, and we have crowned a new champion in the system. Is Ohio State the best team in America? Last night left no doubt.
Or did it?
1. Ohio State
You have to give credit to what Ohio State did over the last three games, and though the loss to Virginia Tech is still the worst one among the top teams and a major head scratcher, they are still the champs. Next year will be interesting to see who among the three QB’s are riding the bench. If they lose a game next year, get ready for everyone to come apart at the seams talking about why the wrong choice was made, especially if Cardale Jones is not the starter after what he did in the last few games.
TCU is as deserving of #2, and a shot a #1 as anyone else in the FBS. They did get screwed over by the new playoff, and not to take anything away from Ohio State, but they are not the undisputed champion. I think TCU will dispute it for years to come. The system will never be right until each conference has a chance for equal representation. The NFL has 8 divisions, and they let each champ in, plus 4 wild cards. THAT is how you get an undisputed champion. TCU and Baylor both didn’t have the chance to play their way to a championship in the playoffs, despite having better losses, and some just as impressive wins as Alabama, Ohio State, and Oregon.
The problem is with FSU, and despite the fact that everyone knows they are an inferior team to the top four I have listed here, they still had to get in because of being undefeated. This is why we need an 8-team system. We’ve already split the Power 5 and Group of 5 conferences from each other inadvertently, but now you’re telling me that between Baylor and TCU, neither team gets a shot after winning their respective conference? Even if Baylor had gotten in, and TCU was still out, then this wouldn’t be that big of a debate. The 4-team playoff is definitely a step in the right direction, and Ohio State and Oregon playing in the championship is proof of that. But it’s still far from perfect, and we’re still a long way off from declaring an “undisputed” champion.
Call it bias, call it what you will, but Alabama was winning at half time then lost by one score in a close game against Ohio State. It’s a close one between Alabama and TCU in my opinion because you have to think of the full season and complete body of work, not just one bowl game. I gave TCU the nod because of their loss being to Baylor and after they dominated Ole Miss, the only team to beat Alabama in the regular season. When Oregon drove down for their first TD at the beginning of the game, it scared me to think what that kind of high flying offense would do to Alabama. At the end of the game, however, I was wondering what kind of damage Alabama could have done against that dreadful O-line from Oregon and shaky defense after seeing the rush yardage put up but Ohio State.
Marcus Mariota, despite last night, was still the best player this season, and still easily the Heisman trophy winner, even if it was awarded after the championship game. When I watched Oregon lose to Arizona, the one thing that stood out to me was how bad the offensive line was for Oregon, and that the team didn’t look as good as they should. Last night solidified that this team as a whole was not a championship caliber team, but had a championship caliber quarterback. They were definitely one of the top 4 teams this season, but it makes me wonder what it would have been like had they played TCU and not Florida State.
The biggest reason for me (and others) wanting an 8-team playoff is that Florida State was such a huge question mark this season, despite the record, and when they played Oregon, it showed how they were not a great team as they were last year. Oregon was deserving of being in the playoff this year, but the championship game showed their flaws and with a good game plan, the three teams ranked above them would definitely be able to defeat them.
5. Michigan State
Sparty had two losses this season, but when they are to the two teams playing in the national title game, you give them a bit of a break. Michigan State was a good team this year, and their comeback win over Baylor solidified that. Michigan State was definitely the second best in the Big 10 this year, and it would have been interesting to see them have a rematch against Ohio State in the Big 10 title game instead of Wisconsin. Cardale Jones facing the Michigan State defense would be a totally different ballgame than Wisconsin.
6. Florida State
Despite having the second best record in the league, Florida State was not an elite team this year. Jameis made plenty of mistakes throughout the year, and wasn’t even in the Heisman conversation after winning the year before. They had to come back way too many times, and when they finally played a legit team, they got crushed. Then the team that beat them got crushed. Realistically, FSU didn’t belong in the playoff and TCU did. The records say otherwise, and the committee had no choice, and everyone understands that. That doesn’t mean they should be ranked any higher than this after the fact. The AP voters agree.
Baylor was a team that could have made a splash in the playoff if it were expanded, and despite beating TCU, they are sitting at 7th after losses to West Virginia (who Alabama and TCU beat), and then Michigan State (who Ohio State and Oregon beat). I think Baylor would beat Florida State if they played tomorrow, but the losses make it tough to rank them higher than this.
8. Georgia Tech
The option is something that will give teams fits for years to come. Georgia Tech showed that it could work against some of the top defenses, such as Georgia and Mississippi State. Even Florida State had to battle to come back and beat it. Georgia Tech is close to greatness, but there is just something missing. I think a little more elaborate pass game from Justin Thomas out of Prattville might help open this offense up a bit more and be able to compete next year for the ACC title.
The Bruins had some big wins, but some big losses as well. Losing to Utah hurt, and losing to Stanford kept them from really being able to claim themselves as a team that could compete for the playoff. Despite those losses (and a semi-close one to Oregon), Jim Mora and the Bruins proved they were a top 10 team this season. Brett Hundley coming back next year would keep this team at this status and maybe even higher, but if he leaves, UCLA may have a hard time staying a top 10 caliber team in 2015.
10. Mississippi State
The Bulldogs were so close this year. Losing to Alabama in a close, 5-point game is one thing. But losing by multiple scores to Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl, then Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl showed that this team is good, but not great. You can’t discredit their wins against LSU, Auburn, and Texas A&M. They put on an impressive show until they reached Alabama. But it’s like losing to Alabama completely deflated their sails. They only picked up one more win after that, and it was against
FCS SEC opponent Vanderbilt. The Bulldogs were close, but they will struggle next year as the rest of the SEC West is also looking to claim back some of their places at the top of not only the SEC, but the national perspective.
14. Boise State
16. Arizona State
18. Ole Miss
19. Kansas State