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The College Football Playoff field is set. And an undefeated Power Five team has missed the playoff for the first time ever.
One-loss teams Texas and Alabama jumped ahead of undefeated Florida State to make the playoff field as the 13-0 Seminoles got left out of the four-team postseason despite winning the ACC title on Saturday night. Texas beat Oklahoma State to win the Big 12 title to jump to No. 3, while Alabama moved up from No. 8 to No. 4 after beating previously No. 1 Georgia for the SEC title.
Undefeated Michigan (13-0) is the top seed and will play Alabama in one semifinal while undefeated Washington (13-0) will play Texas in a bowl game for the second straight season. There was little doubt that both the Wolverines and Huskies would be a part of the playoff.
Florida State dropped from No. 4 to No. 5 after a 16-6 win over Louisville. The Seminoles have played the last two games without star quarterback Jordan Travis after he suffered a season-ending left leg injury against North Alabama in Week 12. His absence was felt on offense, both against Florida and against the Cardinals.
Selection committee chairman Boo Corrigan made it clear that Florida State’s exclusion from the playoff was because of Travis’ injury. Playoff criteria allows the committee to consider injuries when choosing the playoff field.
“It changes their offense in its entirety,” the NC State athletic director said. “And that was really a big factor.”
Georgia (12-1) dropped from No. 1 to No. 6 in the rankings after the loss to Alabama. It’s the first time a team at No. 1 in the penultimate rankings has dropped out of the top four in the final rankings.
Michigan earned the top seed with a dominating 26-0 win over Iowa in the Big Ten championship game a week after beating Ohio State 30-24 at home. The Wolverines scored wins over three ranked opponents in the final four weeks of the season and have outscored opponents by over 25 points per game this season. It’s the third consecutive season the Wolverines have made the playoff.
Washington is the No. 2 seed after a 34-31 win over Oregon in the Pac-12 title game on Friday night. The Huskies entered that game as 10-point underdogs to the Ducks despite beating Oregon 36-33 in October. Washington jumped out to a 20-3 lead over Oregon before closing out the win with a strong fourth quarter.
Washington has four wins over teams in the top 25 but its margin of victory is considerably smaller than Michigan’s. Washington’s last three wins have come by three points or less and the Huskies have seven one-possession victories this season.
Texas (12-1) got into the playoff after big wins over the last two weeks. The Longhorns beat Alabama by 10 in Tuscaloosa in Week 2 and has been ranked ahead of the Crimson Tide in every set of playoff rankings.
Alabama (12-1) created College Football Playoff chaos Saturday afternoon when it grabbed a first-half lead and led the rest of the way against the previously undefeated Bulldogs. Alabama’s win meant that three Power Five teams with one loss or fewer would miss the playoff for the first time ever and set the stage for a debate between the Longhorns, Crimson Tide and Seminoles.
Had Florida State blown out Louisville like Ohio State blew out Wisconsin in the 2014 Big Ten championship game with its third-string quarterback, the Seminoles are likely in the playoff. But FSU’s offense had a rough performance with No. 3 QB Brock Glenn on Saturday night as the defense showed it was worthy of a playoff spot.
Florida State has given up just 21 points over its last two games. But the offense also only scored 40 with Tate Rodemaker and Glenn under center. Rodemaker, the backup to Travis all season, was 12-of-25 passing against Florida and did not play on Saturday night because of a head injury he suffered against the Gators.
Rodemaker would likely be ready to go for the playoff. But the committee clearly felt that Florida State wasn’t as good as both Alabama and Texas without Travis on the field.