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2018 Playoff 4 announced: Why it’s the correct field, relatively

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Within the current system, the committee made the right choice here.

ACC Championship - Clemson v Pittsburgh Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The 2018 College Football Playoff bracket — as much as a four-team field can be called a “bracket” — is out.

Alabama is two wins away from going wire-to-wire as No. 1 and has yet to ever miss a Playoff, Clemson is in its fourth straight CFP, the committee had an easy choice with an undefeated Notre Dame available, and the actual controversies focused on spot No. 4.

We now have these two games on December 29:

Orange Bowl: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Oklahoma
Cotton Bowl: No. 2 Clemson vs. No. 3 Notre Dame

And the winners will meet in the National Championship in Santa Clara, California on January 7.

Why Alabama is in

Let’s start with an easy one! The Tide obliterated every team on their pretty solid schedule until playing previous No. 4 Georgia, whom they beat by a touchdown on a neutral field. Obvious No. 1. Next.

And yes, Bama’s schedule is totally fine, despite a lot of complains by other fans back in October. Per S&P+:

SOS rankings for college football’s unbeaten teams:

17. Alabama (0.834)

61. Notre Dame (0.888)

76. Clemson (0.901)

83. UCF (0.907)

Why Clemson is in

Other than a close call at a ranked Texas A&M and a struggle with a third-string QB against ranked Syracuse, the Tigers dusted everything else on the schedule. The undefeated ACC champs haven’t been perfect, but they’re the pretty obvious No. 2.

Why Notre Dame is in

The Irish went undefeated against a Power 5-grade schedule. They’re not in a conference, but the committee doesn’t much care. The committee looks at what you did against who you played, not at which friends you made 100 years ago ... at least, if you’re not a mid-major.

Notre Dame earned its way in just fine, and it’s not even the first team to make the CFP without winning a conference title game. 2015 Oklahoma, 2016 Ohio State, and 2017 Alabama broke that seal first.

Why Oklahoma is in

The simplest argument: lost one game — by three points to a ranked team — then avenged it by 12. Unless you’re putting in UCF, there’s no simpler argument for any other team in the country.

Everybody hates OU’s defense, with pretty good reason, but this is one of college football’s best offenses ever. Ask 2017 Ohio State and Georgia.

Why Georgia is out

In the immediate aftermath of an unbelievably emotional SEC Championship, many argued the Dawgs should be in. They’re good enough to nearly beat Bama, which means they could beat anybody else, right?

The Dawgs already had their shot, though, and even more importantly, they lost another game. They lost by 20 at LSU. Losing two games was the reason otherwise deserving 2016 Penn State and 2017 Ohio State missed out, among others.

I agree Georgia is probably one of the four best teams, maybe even one of the top two or three, once you look at their full season. But they don’t deserve a spot in this particular Playoff.

And for everyone who wishes the old BCS formula had charge of the four-team Playoff:

Why Ohio State is out

They lost to 6-6 Purdue by 29 points. Thank u, next.

Why UCF is out

OK, this is the reason there’s a “relatively” in the headline.

If we’re in a world in which non-power teams are essentially not eligible for the Playoff, then the four-team field is correct.

If we want a system in which all of FBS has a viable path to the national title, regardless of the schedules it’d been stuck with from years prior, then undefeated UCF must get a shot, just as 2017 should’ve.

Right now, we are in the former. The committee itself could’ve helped give every team a real chance, but it seems that ship sailed years ago.

Why Washington is out

What? The Pac-12 champ lost three games.

[fast forward for two hours]

Why UConn is out

OK, I think we’re done here.