One undefeated team was controversially left off the College Football Playoff

December 4, 2023
One undefeated team was controversially left off the College Football Playoff

The GIST: After a thrilling conference championship weekend, the CFP and 41 other bowl games are officially set. And thanks to Alabama’s 27–24 SEC Championship upset of the reigning back-to-back natty champ, then–No. 1 Georgia, two one-loss teams controversially snuck in. Let’s meet the contenders:

No. 1 Michigan Wolverines (13-0): With head coach (HC) Jim Harbaugh back on the sidelines (for now), the Wolverines unsurprisingly wrecked No. 17 Iowa 26–0 to capture their third straight Big Ten title on Saturday. Their rock-solid defense, plus Georgia’s loss, pushed Michigan to the top spot.

No. 2 Washington Huskies (13-0): The last-ever Pac-12 football game was a doozy: The Huskies won a wild back-and-forth battle with No. 8 Oregon 34–31 Friday, silencing the haters and clinching their second CFP berth. UW quarterback (QB) Michael Penix Jr. once again outdueled Oregon QB Bo Nix in a fitting finale for the Conference of Champions.

No. 3 Texas Longhorns (12-1): CFP first-timer Texas rubbed salt in the Big 12’s wound as they trounced No. 20 Oklahoma State 49–21 Saturday, just before bailing for the SEC. The reason the Longhorns leapt to No. 3? Their Week 2 road win over Alabama, because if the team who took down Georgia is in, the squad who beat Bama has to be in, too. It’s Football Math.

No. 4 Alabama Crimson Tide (12-1): This CFP veteran goes back to December all the time: This is their eighth playoff berth since the four-team format launched in 2015. That Week 2 loss had the Tide flying under the radar this year, but a crew that can snap powerhouse Georgia’s 29-game win streak is a force to be reckoned with.

On the outside: Many, including injured Florida State QB Jordan Travis, feel the ACC–winning ’Noles were snubbed, and they’re pissed. The CFP committee ultimately chose two one-loss squads over an undefeated Power Five champ because FSU isn’t as competitive without Travis — even though they won their last three matchups without him. Brutal.