By: Chris Spratt
The college football season is over, the conference champions have been crowned, leaving only one major event left: the college football playoff.
Since 2014, the NCAA Division 1 College Football National Championship is determined by a single-elimination tournament. This tournament consists of the four qualifying teams chosen by the NCAA’s private selection committee. This year’s playoff teams are No.1 Alabama, No.2 Clemson, No.3 Notre Dame and No.4 Oklahoma.
The qualifying teams feature three conference champions (Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma) and three teams with an undefeated record (Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame), with the possibility of becoming the first team in the playoff’s short history to win the national championship with an undefeated record.
The first round of the tournament pits two Heisman Trophy candidates against each other as quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s 13-0 Alabama Crimson Tide take on quarterback Kyler Murray’s 12-1 Oklahoma Sooners in the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida.
The second first-round game features the 13-0 Clemson Tigers and 13-0 Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the Cotton Bowl in Arlington, Texas.
Top-seeded Alabama is participating in its fifth of five college football playoffs, the only team to achieve such feat. Alabama is also the defending national champion and hoping to retain their title. The second seed Clemson is in its fourth college football playoff, reaching the national title game twice and winning the 2017 National Championship over Alabama. The third seed is Notre Dame, in it first college football playoff and competing for their first championship appearance since 2012, where they lost to Alabama. The fourth seed is Oklahoma, competing in their second college football playoff and looking for its first national title game since 2009.
The four-team playoff sparks controversy each year over the most qualified teams to make the playoff. This year, 12-1 Ohio State and 11-2 Georgia were left off in favor of Notre Dame and Oklahoma. Ohio State is held back by their 29-point October loss to the unranked 6-6 Purdue Boilermakers, while the Georgia Bulldogs lost two games on the season to quality opponents. No.13 LSU defeated Georgia 36-16 earlier in the season and Georgia squandered a fourteen point lead to lose to top-ranked Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. There is no single metric that the playoff committee uses to decide one team over the other, so these losses are important factors that weigh into the decision.
The semifinals of the College Football Playoff take place on Saturday,December 29th and the two remaining teams will compete on Monday January 7th for the right to be crowned National Champions of College Football.
Chris Spratt is a Staff Writer for The Comment.