Playoff prediction: Your final four teams are ...
The College Football Playoff selection committee will reconvene at 7:30 a.m. ET Sunday morning to select and seed the four semifinalists before revealing the pairings at noon ET, on ESPN.
Clemson is in. Alabama is in. Michigan State is in.
Stanford fans will argue it belongs. The Cardinal has a strong case. Closing arguments matter, and its 41-22 victory over USC in the Pac-12 Championship Game was more impressive than Michigan State’s dramatic 16-13 win over Iowa in the Big Ten Championship.
But the committee won’t think it’s impressive enough.
The four we had last week will be the four we get Sunday.
The only drama will be in which order … and Saturday didn’t provide a lot of reasons for a drastic reshaping.
Clemson has been No. 1 in each of the five playoff polls this season. It pounded North Carolina in the ACC Championship Game.
Alabama debuted at No. 4 but was No. 2 in the past four rankings. It punished Florida in the SEC Championship Game.
Oklahoma started at No. 15 — one spot ahead of eventual champion Ohio State last season — but has been No. 3 each of the past two weeks. It was idle. If any team moves down, the Sooners are the candidate.
If any team moves out, the Sooners obviously are the candidate.
Could the committee do that to the Big 12 two consecutive years? Oklahoma was so dominant during the final month it’s hard to imagine, but TCU won its final game by 52 points last season and dropped from No. 3 to No. 6.
Iowa and Michigan State were ranked No. 4 and No. 5, respectively, each of the past two weeks, all but assuring the winner of Saturday night’s Big Ten Championship a playoff spot.
Stanford or Oklahoma? Both won conference championships, but only one likely will go.
Expect it to be the Oklahoma, taking the fourth spot and opening the playoff Dec. 31 against No. 1 seed Clemson in the Orange Bowl in Miami, with No. 2 Alabama facing No. 3 Michigan State at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.