It’s all about No. 1.
Otherwise, Sunday’s College Football Playoff announcement lacks suspense.
The four teams — Ohio State, LSU, Clemson and Oklahoma — appear to be virtual locks. The first three are undefeated and clearly the three premier teams in the country, after they all won their respective conference title games, LSU and Clemson in convincing fashion and Ohio State coming from behind after a shaky first half.
One-loss Oklahoma, by default, will return to the playoff for the third straight year and makes its fourth trip there overall, courtesy of its Big 12 championship game victory over Baylor, Georgia’s lopsided loss to LSU and Utah’s ugly setback to Oregon.
The committee has never taken a two-loss team and the Sooners do own three top-25 wins in the committee’s rankings released last Tuesday, making this decision seem rather obvious, particularly since Oklahoma was sixth, behind Georgia and Utah.
The big question is which team lands the No. 1 spot, Ohio State or LSU? Ohio State entered the weekend No. 1, but it had to rally to knock off Wisconsin, 34-21, in the Big Ten championship, trailing 14-0 and 21-7, while LSU overwhelmed Georgia, 37-10, in a thorough performance.
LSU also owns victories over Alabama (with Tua Tagovailoa, before he hurt his hip), No. 9 Florida and No. 11 Auburn. The Tigers didn’t suffer a loss in the SEC, the best conference in the country, and have the heavy Heisman Trophy favorite in quarterback Joe Burrow.
Ohio State has the better non-conference victory (a 42-0 rout of No. 20 Cincinnati), but its resume — two wins over No. 8 Wisconsin, an 11-point victory over No. 10 Penn State and blowout of No. 14 Michigan — isn’t quite as impressive, despite five wins by double digits over top-25 teams. Plus, it struggled early on Saturday with the Badgers, a stark contrast to LSU rolling through Georgia, which could tip the scales in favor of the Tigers. Both teams have been similarly dominant throughout the season.
The further you dissect the two, it’s really splitting hairs. There’s 1-A and 1-B, giving the committee a difficult decision to make on Sunday.
It’s important, since the team that finishes atop the rankings would draw defensively-suspect Oklahoma while No. 2 would have to deal with Clemson and quarterback Trevor Lawrence. There has never been a bigger divide between No. 3 and No. 4.
Oklahoma lost to four-loss Kansas State, played nobody in the non-conference and nearly blew big leads to Iowa State and TCU before surviving Baylor in the Big 12 title game. Though untested in the woeful ACC, Clemson has won 28 straight games, is the defending national champion and has outscored its opponents by a whopping 467 points.
It will set up a marquee showdown — whoever draws Clemson — and an obvious undercard that could be a laugher.
LSU’s big win over Georgia and the quality of their best victories gives the Tigers the slight nod over Ohio State as the top seed.
2. Ohio State
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