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2018 College Football Playoff Projections: Why Oklahoma Gets Final Spot

Dec 02, 2018 1:39 AM EST
  • We've got fresh 2018 College Football Playoff projections hours ahead of the announcement, which will take place at noon ET on Sunday.
  • Based on the committee's past behavior, Oklahoma will get the No. 4 spot over Georgia or Ohio State.

The 2018 College Football Playoff will be announced on Sunday at 12 p.m. ET, and the picture has become pretty clear.

Alabama beat Georgia with a come-from-behind win in the SEC Championship Game just a few hours after Oklahoma hung on to beat Texas.

That Tide win will put the Sooners in as the No. 4 seed, since both Georgia and Alabama would have gotten in had the Bulldogs won. Here’s why:

We’re five years into the College Football Playoff, and we still don’t know what it takes to get in, other than …

  • Be a Power 5 team
  • Lose one or zero games

That’s been the recipe for all 16 past participants, and I think it will hold true again this season. Half of the CFP committee is new, which could be a factor. But based on precedent, it’s Oklahoma.

If there are too many teams that qualify under those two criteria, then the committee gets into head-to-head, strength of schedule and conference championships.

But it all starts with wins and losses, and that means the debate is solely between Oklahoma and Ohio State.

2018 College Football Playoff Projections

1. Alabama

  • Record: 13-0
  • Week 14: Beat Georgia, 35-28

Alabama finally got tested in a thrilling win over Georgia, but the committee looks at the whole body of work. And there’s no team with a better one than the Tide.

Alabama beat its first 12 opponents by at least 20 points, the first team since 1888 Yale to do that. Bama is the No. 1 seed even though Georgia hung tough.

2. Clemson

  • Record: 13-0
  • Week 14: Beat Pitt, 42-10

Not much to say here. Clemson finished off a perfect regular season with a demolition of Pitt, 42-10. The Tigers’ body of work isn’t quite as impressive as Alabama’s, but better than Notre Dame’s, so they’ll get the No. 2 seed.

3. Notre Dame

  • Record: 12-0
  • Week 14: Off

Notre Dame not playing a conference title game made things easy for the Irish since they went unbeaten. With one loss against their schedule, there could have been a lot of debate (and I bet Notre Dame would have gotten left out).

4. Oklahoma

  • Record: 12-1
  • Week 14: Beat Texas, 39-27

Here’s where things get dicey — everyone is making a different case for Ohio State, Georgia or Oklahoma.

But like I mentioned above, there have only been two similarities that all 16 past College Football Playoff teams have shared — Power 5 conference, one or zero losses. That eliminates Georgia.

As for Ohio State-Oklahoma, we’ve got a tie of sorts. Both are one-loss, Power 5 conference champions.

But the committee having the Sooners at No. 5 last week, ahead of Ohio State at No. 6, means they liked Oklahoma’s body of work more entering this weekend. The committee cares about all 12 or 13 games. And neither team did anything to change their position all that much.

Thanks for Playing, Try Again Next Year

5. Ohio State

  • Record: 12-1
  • Week 14: Beat Northwestern, 45-24

Ohio State getting boat raced by Purdue and almost losing to Maryland set it back in a big way.

6. Georgia

  • Record: 12-1
  • Week 14: Lost to Alabama, 35-28

Georgia is one of the four best teams in the country by any measure — our power ratings, S&P+, the eye test. But the committee has made it clear that wins and loses matter.

ESPN especially has been hyping up Georgia all night as a possibility to get in, but it’s probably just so the debate is more interesting Sunday morning.

7. UCF

  • Record: 12-0
  • Week 14: Beat Memphis, 56-41

Remember that playoff qualification about having zero or one loss? Yeah, the Power 5 part is an important distinction.

I’m not going to lay out why UCF does or doesn’t deserve to get into the College Football Playoff after consecutive unbeaten seasons. But the Knights won’t get in, and that’s that.

Credit:

USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Hollywood Brown and Jaylen Waddle

Follow Steve Petrella on Twitter
@steve_petrella

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