College football decides on its final four

Gordon P Smith Roar Guru

By Gordon P Smith, Gordon P Smith is a Roar Guru


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    American College Football has seeded its top four teams for the playoffs ahead of what should be an exciting end to the season.

    The College Football Playoff selection committee has ranked these four teams at the top of the football bowl subdivision (FBS) and seeded them in the semi-finals, played in the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl on 1 January.

    1. Clemson Tigers (12-1, champions of the ACC);
    2. Oklahoma Sooners (12-1, champions of the big 12);
    3. Georgia Bulldogs (12-1, champs of the SEC); and
    4. Alabama Crimson Tide (11-1, SEC).

    The difficult conversation for the committee came down to whether to put Alabama, with just one loss to 10-2 Auburn on the road, which happened to keep them from winning the SEC – or Ohio State, who are the champs of the big ten but twice losers, including a 31-point blowout at 7-5 Iowa, in that fourth spot.

    The consensus of the public was that there is no right answer, and even USC – two-loss champs of the Pac-12 – were considered. For the record, we have Clemson, Georgia and Oklahoma all with a nine on the Elo-Follow Football rating system – Alabama and Ohio State the only two teams ahead of them, with Alabama at six and Ohio State at eight – so either would have been an asset and a favourite.

    In the end, Ohio State was placed fifth and out of the playoffs, Wisconsin sixth, Auburn seventh, and USC eighth.

    All four of those schools got major bowl games as consolation prizes. USC and Ohio State are meeting in the Cotton Bowl 29 December, Wisconsin goes to Miami in the Orange Bowl 30 December, Washington and Penn State meet in the Fiesta Bowl 30 December and Group of Five champion Central Florida (12-0 after a 62-55 barn-burner win against conference rival Memphis Saturday, the only undefeated team in FCS) plays 10-3 SEC powerhouse Auburn in the Peach Bowl on 1 January.

    Thirty-three other bowl games were filled with 66 other teams with winning records. These are exhibition games that reward the teams and their fans for a successful season. In truth the coaches get 15 extra practices with those bowl invites, so they get to work with their team when their lesser rivals can’t.

    The football championship subdivision (FCS) level is down to eight teams rather than four:

    • James Madison (26-7 winners over fellow CAA team Stony Brook) host Weber State (30-13 winners against Big Sky rival Southern Utah);
    • South Dakota State (which defeated fellow MVC Northern Iowa 37-22) plays upstart New Hampshire from the CAA (which upset Central Arkansas 21-15);
    • MVC champ North Dakota State (routers of San Diego, 38-3) plays SoCon champ Wofford (conquerors of fellow Southern conference Furman 28-10); and
    • Kennesaw State (which upset #3 Jacksonville State 17-7 of the OVC) defends the Big South with a battle against Southland power Sam Houston State (54-42 winners against MVC power South Dakota).

    Our money is still on a James Madison defence against five-time champion North Dakota State in the final. For comparison, NDSU has a rating of 21; JMU 23. No other school is lower than 29.

    We haven’t mentioned Division 2 or 3 all season, but those exist within the NCAA bounds as well for smaller, non-scholarship schools. In Division 2 Indiana of Pennsylvania hosts West Florida, and Texas A&M-Commerce hosts Harding University this weekend.

    In Division 3 Mary Hardin-Baylor defends its national title against Brockport State, while 13-time champ Mount Union plays Wisconsin-Oshkosh for a change – they’ve played Wisconsin-Whitewater in the finals for something like nine years straight before last season!

    As for our Elo-Follow Football ratings, we’ve already revealed our top five. Here’s our top 25:

    1. Alabama (rating of 6)
    2. Ohio State (8)
    3. Georgia, Clemson, and Oklahoma (9)
    4. Wisconsin and Penn State (11)
    5. Auburn (12)
    6. Washington (13)
    7. Stanford (16)
    8. Oklahoma State (17)
    9. LSC and USC (18)
    10. TCU (19)
    11. Notre Dame, Michigan, and the best of Group of Five, Central Florida (20)
    12. Iowa, Miami-FL, and if you want to break the rules a mite, North Dakota State! (21)
    13. Kansas State, Northwestern, Iowa State, Texas, Mississippi State, and Memphis (22)

    In the FCS level, let’s look at our top-rated teams for the year as well:

    1. North Dakota State (rating of 21)
    2. James Madison (23)
    3. South Dakota State (29)
    4. Kennesaw State, Weber State (31)
    5. Central Arkansas (32)
    6. Jacksonville State, Western Illinois (33)
    7. Youngstown State, Sam Houston State (34)
    8. Northern Iowa (35)
    9. Illinois State, Southern Utah, Furman, Samford, Richmond, South Dakota (36)
    10. Wofford, Montana State, and San Diego. (37)

    North Carolina A&T is the top-rated ‘historically black college’ at 38, alone in slot 21.

    There isn’t much to work with for this weekend’s predictions.

    Well, there is the uber-traditional ‘Army versus Navy’ game, which for the first time in a long time we have as a toss-up. Zero points to give in either direction, but my gut says Navy’s seeking revenge for breaking the streak – they’d beaten Army 14 years straight.

    There’s also the FCS quarter-finals, but except for the Sam Houston State versus Kennesaw State, I see double-digit margins in the neighbourhood – JMU by 19, NDSU by 12, and SDSU by 16. The only reason I’m favouring Sam Houston is the fact that they’re playing their second in a row at home, and Kennesaw’s playing its second on the road. SHSU by one.

    In Division 2 I’m expecting a final between the two most oddly named schools: Indiana of Pennsylvania, and Texas A&M-Commerce, while in Division 3 I am really hoping for form to hold and produce a match between current reigning champions UMHB and perennial champions Mount Union.

    Our prediction record for the year stands at 826-252 for a batting average over 76.6 per cent for the year. We also lead the Vegas oddsmakers 250-234, and the Sagarin ratings 250-216 in accuracy.

    Next week we’ll forecast all the bowl games and the lower division finals for you!

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