O'Gara: Predicting how the final Playoff Poll will look on Selection Sunday
Well, well, well.
In the final year of the 4-team Playoff, we finally have a real debate on our hands. Imagine that.
That was the byproduct of having 8 Power 5 teams with 0 or 1 loss entering conference championship weekend, and the Texas-Alabama head-to-head scenario that many assumed wouldn’t be relevant by Selection Sunday proved to be just that. Oh, and we also had the Jordan Travis-Florida State injury adding some intrigue.
So what does that mean we’ll see on Selection Sunday? Here’s my best guess:
4. Florida State
Look. I get that Texas blew out Oklahoma State to win the Big 12 Championship, and before this weekend, nobody had a better win than the Longhorns, who beat Alabama by 10 in Tuscaloosa.
But I do believe the selection committee will make sure that an undefeated Power 5 team makes the field, even with the Travis injury. Yes, I know the offense was bad without Travis. It’s still an offense that’s supported by a top-10 scoring defense. Let’s not forget that FSU beat 11 Power 5 teams, including 2 SEC teams away from home. Also, all 3 of those wins against teams in the Playoff Top 25 came away from home. This isn’t some 2015 Iowa résumé.
I do believe that as much as it’ll pain the selection committee, it’ll reward that.
I know, I know. Games have to matter. In 99.9% of scenarios in which teams with the same number of losses have a head-to-head tiebreaker, I’d say it’s relevant. But beating the 12-0, 2-time defending champs on a neutral site is the ultimate trump card.
Despite the fact that we’ve never seen a team ranked No. 8 heading into conference championship weekend, we’ve also never seen a win quite like what Alabama got. Remember, Georgia was No. 1. Say what you want about the 2023 résumé being the only thing that matters, but the Tide still beat the team that the selection committee held in higher regard than any of the 4 Power 5 unbeatens.
I don’t believe that this is the first year that the SEC will get left out. I do believe Texas fans will have every right to be livid about that.
Either way, we’ll have a mutiny following Sunday’s announcement.
How about the Huskies? After hearing the entire season that Washington wasn’t “the better team” after beating Oregon at home, all Washington did was go out and do it again. Like, to cap a 13-0 regular season. That was darn impressive.
As much as I thought Washington wasn’t being criticized for all of those close victories — just compared to Florida State — that team has one of the better pre-Playoff résumés we’ve seen. Four wins against teams currently in the Playoff Top 25 is tied with Alabama for the best in the country, and 2 wins against an Oregon team in the top 5 is untouchable.
Could you make a case that Washington is worthy of the No. 1 spot? Eh, probably not with all of those wins by 10 points or less.
That was clinched when Georgia lost. Or rather, when Georgia lost and Michigan kicked a field goal against Iowa.
There’s no doubt that the Wolverines will be rewarded that top seed after the selection committee had them at No. 2 with that Ohio State win in their back pocket. Forget any notion that the Connor Stalions scandal would impact Michigan’s Playoff status. The only question for Michigan is who it’ll be playing. And, of course, whether this team can finally break through before the NCAA investigation concludes.
Stay tuned on both fronts.