The College Football Playoff landscape is finalized, marking an unprecedented moment as an undefeated Power Five team finds itself excluded from the postseason for the first time.
In a surprising turn of events, one-loss teams Texas and Alabama leapfrogged undefeated Florida State, who, despite clinching the ACC title on Saturday night with a 13-0 record, failed to secure a spot in the coveted four-team playoff. Texas claimed the No. 3 spot after triumphing over Oklahoma State for the Big 12 title, while Alabama surged from No. 8 to No. 4 following their victory over former No. 1 Georgia in the SEC title clash.
Undefeated Michigan (13-0) secures the top seed and is set to face Alabama in the Rose Bowl, while undefeated Washington (13-0) is slated to take on Texas in the Sugar Bowl. The inclusion of both the Wolverines and the Huskies was widely anticipated.
Florida State experienced a drop from No. 4 to No. 5 after a 16-6 victory over Louisville. The Seminoles grappled with the absence of star quarterback Jordan Travis, sidelined by a season-ending left leg injury sustained in Week 12 against North Alabama, impacting their offensive performance in games against Florida and Louisville.
devastated. heartbroken. In so much disbelief rn, I wish my leg broke earlier in the season so y’all could see this team is much more than the quarterback. I thought results matter. 13-0 and this roster matches up across any team in those top 4 rankings. I am so sorry. Go Noles!— Jordan Travis (@jordantrav13) December 3, 2023
Committee chairman Boo Corrigan explicitly attributed Florida State’s exclusion to Travis’ injury, emphasizing the committee’s ability to consider injuries when determining playoff selections. Travis responded publicly, expressing contemplation on whether his injury should have occurred earlier in the season.
Georgia (12-1) witnessed a significant fall from No. 1 to No. 6 in the rankings following their loss to Alabama, marking the first instance where a team ranked No. 1 in the penultimate rankings dropped out of the top four in the final rankings.
Michigan claimed the top seed with a commanding 26-0 triumph over Iowa in the Big Ten championship game, complementing their earlier home victory against Ohio State. The Wolverines, scoring wins against three ranked opponents in the final four weeks, maintained an impressive average point differential of over 25 points per game, securing their third consecutive playoff appearance.
Washington clinched the No. 2 seed after a hard-fought 34-31 win over Oregon in the Pac-12 title game. Despite entering as 10-point underdogs, the Huskies dominated with a 20-3 lead before securing victory with a strong fourth quarter. While Washington boasts four wins against top-25 teams, their margin of victory is notably smaller than Michigan’s, with seven one-possession victories this season.
Texas (12-1) earned their playoff spot with significant wins in the past two weeks, notably a 10-point victory over Alabama in Tuscaloosa in Week 2. Meanwhile, Alabama (12-1) sparked chaos in the College Football Playoff by securing a first-half lead and maintaining control against the previously undefeated Bulldogs.
The exclusion of an undefeated Power Five team from the playoff for the first time set the stage for a heated debate between Texas, Alabama, and Florida State. Despite Florida State’s defensive prowess, limiting opponents to just 21 points in the last two games, the committee evidently deemed them less formidable without the injured Travis, favoring the offensive strength of Alabama and Texas.