Thank goodness the College Football Playoff Committee spared us from a semifinal matchup involving a team whose quarterback had a hard time completing passes in an offense that had trouble getting out of its own way.

Wait. What?

Somewhere in Tallahassee, Mike Norvell and his Florida State Seminoles – especially Jordan Travis – would probably be smiling about what went down at the Rose Bowl on Monday if it didn’t hurt too much having to watch the game on television from home.

Would Travis’ backup Tate Rodemaker have done any better against Michigan’s top-ranked defense than Alabama’s Jalen Milroe? Would FSU have fared any better against the top-seeded Wolverines, or anyone else in the Playoff for that matter, than the Crimson Tide did in their 27-20 overtime loss?

With or without their injured star quarterback?

We’ll never know the answer to either question.

This much we do know, however. The Committee’s reasoning for leaving the undefeated Seminoles out of the 4-team bracket looks even flimsier now than it did on Selection Sunday after a game in which Milroe completed 16-of-23 passes for a Rodemaker-like 116 yards while also losing a fumble and converting only 3-of-13 3rd-down opportunities.

For purposes of comparison, true freshman Brock Glenn, the 3rd stringer who started for FSU in the Orange Bowl after Rodemaker opted out, threw for 136 yards against Georgia on Saturday.

It was almost as if Alabama was following the same game plan as post-Travis FSU in its regular season finale against the Crimson Tide’s SEC rival Florida and ACC Championship Game win against Louisville. Play stout defense. Rely heavily on a running attack stocked with a stable of talented backs. And don’t ask your quarterback to do too much.

Alabama’s defense did what it had to do until running out of gas late in the 4th quarter and overtime. Its ground game churned out 172 yards and produced both touchdowns – both of which were aided by short fields.

But instead of putting away Michigan when they had the chance, the Crimson Tide left the door open because their quarterback was only able to complete 1 pass longer than 13 yards and had a hard time getting his team into the end zone.

That includes a 4th quarter possession in which Alabama milked nearly 6 minutes off the clock but was only able to advance 35 yards on 9 plays before settling for the 2nd of 2 long field goals by Will Reichard.

This is not to put all the blame on Milroe. He didn’t get any help from center Seth McLaughlin, who had at least 3 bad snaps that led to either losses, or in the case of the final down of overtime, a disrupted play.

And it’s not as if the spotty offensive performance came completely out of nowhere.

The Crimson Tide managed only 17 points in a lackluster win against a pedestrian South Florida back in September. Of course, that was without Milroe, who was benched after the Tide lost to Texas in Week 2. And they needed a 4th-and-31 miracle in the final seconds of their regular season finale at Auburn just to get into the SEC title game.

But they were fortunate enough to save their best for last by beating Georgia to throw the Playoff process into chaos. And give the selection committee the excuse it needed to provide ESPN with the ratings-boosting semifinal matchups it wanted.

I’m sure by now some of you are screaming at your computer screens or frantically pounding out indignant tweets reminding me of that 63-3 beatdown Georgia put on the Seminoles.

You’re going to try to use that as validation that FSU had no business being on the same field with the big boys.

Good try.

The reality is that Alabama’s offensive sputtering performance with a full complement of offensive starters was a much stronger indicator of Playoff worthiness than a Seminoles team manned by a contingent of backups and redshirts pressed into service because of 29 opt-outs – including 15 starters.

If anything, the Orange Bowl blowout was proof that Georgia, which was ranked No. 1 the week prior to Selection Sunday, should have been the 1-loss team seeded into the Playoff. Not Alabama. Or Texas, which was also beaten in its semifinal Monday, falling 37-31 to Washington in the Sugar Bowl.

For all the blustering about the “4 best teams” and who did or didn’t deserve to play for the national championship, the final verdict is that the title will be decided next Monday in Houston between 2 of the 3 FBS teams that entered the postseason undefeated.

Maybe there is something to that whole body of work argument, after all.

Or as senior defensive back Jarrian Jones, FSU’s leader in interceptions in 2023 described it in a social media post shortly after Michigan’s Rose Bowl win: “Difference between EARNED and GIVEN.”

Alabama’s loss and the spotty offensive performance that helped bring it about might not ease any of the sting Jones, his Seminoles teammates and their fans continue to feel from being denied the opportunity to pursue a title their team earned on the field.

But at least it gave them something to smile about.

So did the announcement Monday that starting defensive end Patrick Payton and offensive lineman Darius Washington have both decided to return next season. And on a day in which quarterback play has been in the center of the spotlight, FSU also came up a winner by landing highly sought-after transfer DJ Uiagalelei.

Sometimes you just have to take your victories where you can find them.