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College Football Playoff will feature Michigan v. Alabama and Washington v. Texas, while undefeated Florida State is left out

The Michigan Wolverines, Alabama Crimson Tide, Texas Longhorns and Washington Huskies will compete in next month's College Football Playoff.
The Michigan Wolverines, Alabama Crimson Tide, Texas Longhorns and Washington Huskies will compete in next month’s College Football Playoff. (Icon Sportswire/AP)

CNN — The Michigan Wolverines, Washington Huskies, Texas Longhorns and Alabama Crimson Tide will compete in next month’s College Football Playoff, while the undefeated Florida State Seminoles were left out.

In the semifinal games set for January 1, No. 1 Michigan (13-0) will play No. 4 Alabama (12-1) at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, while No. 2 Washington (13-0) will take on No. 3 Texas (12-1) at the Sugar Bowl at Caesars Superdome in New Orleans.

The winners will face off in the national championship game at NRG Stadium in Houston on January 8.

Florida State (13-0) finished at No. 5 in the final rankings, just missing out on the playoff. The Seminoles are the first undefeated team from a major Power-5 conference to be excluded from the playoffs since its inception in 2014.

FSU’s star quarterback Jordan Travis was injured two weeks ago, and though the team has still not lost, its offense has cratered since then, leaving them in a weakened state. The Seminoles won a low-scoring affair Saturday against the Louisville Cardinals 16-6 to earn the ACC title in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Dec 2, 2023; Charlotte, NC, USA; Florida State Seminoles running back Trey Benson (3) runs the ball against the Louisville Cardinals during the fourth quarter at Bank of America Stadium.
Running back Trey Benson and the Florida State Seminoles were excluded from the college football playoff despite a perfect 13-0 record. (Jim Dedmon/USA Today Sports via Reuters)

The College Football Playoff field is selected by a 13-member selection committee rather than by a simple win-loss record in part because college football teams play such different schedules.

The committee, made up of athletic directors and former coaches and players, ranks the teams based on their play on the field and considers conference championships, strength of schedule, head-to-head competition and comparative outcomes of common opponents.

Speaking on ESPN, College Football Playoff committee chair Boo Corrigan explained why FSU was left out of the final four.

“Florida State is a different team than they were through the first 11 weeks,” he said. “An incredible season. But as you look at who they are as a team, Right now, without Jordan Travis, without the offensive dynamic that he brings to it, they are a different team.”

ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips said it was “unfathomable” FSU was excluded.

“Their exclusion calls into question the selection process and whether the Committee’s own guidelines were followed, including the significant importance of being an undefeated Power Five conference champion,” he said. “My heart breaks for the talented FSU student-athletes and coaches and their passionate and loyal fans. Florida State deserved better. College football deserved better.”

Travis himself tweeted his disappointment in the decision, writing: “devastated. heartbroken. In so much disbelief rn, I wish my leg broke earlier in the season so y’all could see this team is much more than the quarterback. I thought results matter. 13-0 and this roster matches up across any team in those top 4 rankings. I am so sorry. Go Noles!”

Only 4 spots for 6 deserving teams

This year’s selection was certain to be controversial, as there were six teams with legitimate claims to the playoff.

In its 10-year history, an undefeated team from a Power-5 conference (FSU, Washington and Michigan) had never missed the playoff, but neither had the SEC champion (Alabama) nor the previous week’s top-ranked team (Georgia).

Washington and Michigan were considered shoo-ins given their undefeated records, conference championships and sterling performances in recent weeks.

Michigan shut out the Iowa Hawkeyes 26-0 to win their third consecutive Big Ten championship in Indianapolis Saturday and will be appearing in their third consecutive playoff. The Wolverines beat then-undefeated Ohio State last week without coach Jim Harbaugh, who was suspended from the sidelines for three games following a league investigation into sign-stealing violations.

Washington edged the Oregon Ducks 34-31 in Las Vegas Friday to win the Pac-12 title.

From there, the decision was murkier.

Georgia, meanwhile, has won two straight national championships, was ranked No. 1 in the committee’s rankings prior to the conference championship game and its loss Saturday to Alabama was its first in over two seasons. The committee ultimately ranked them 6th.

Finally, while Texas won the Big-12 conference with a 49-21 beatdown of the Oklahoma State Cowboys on Saturday, the Longhorns also lost to Oklahoma in October and barely squeaked out wins against middling TCU and Kansas State earlier this year.

This is the final year of the four-team playoff as the CFP expands to 12 teams in 2024. The four-team playoff began in the 2014-15 season and replaced the previous Bowl Championship Series system, which set the national championship game based on an analysis of polls and rankings.

Last season, Georgia crushed the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs 65-7 to win its second consecutive championship at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California.

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