Sugar Bowl 2018 Preview: A Way-Too-Early Look at Alabama-Clemson

Elias Hubbard
December 8, 2017

Defending national champion Clemson got the No. 1 seed. The College Football Playoff was created soon after.

- No. 4 Alabama (11-1) vs. No. 6 Wisconsin (12-1): Large bruises. Clemson is 7-0 ATS in their last 7 bowl games, 8-0 in their last 8 non-conference games, 4-0 in their last 4 games vs. It would fill airwaves, email inboxes, chats.

Then maybe you'll see why the rankings ended up the way they did.

The College Football Playoff selection committee picked for the fourth playoff spot a team that didn't win its own division over a conference champion. We might have discussed even whether Penn State's omission constituted continuing bias from its early-decade scandal.

Alabama doesn't have many quality wins on its résumé, as Florida State's disastrous season nullified what appeared to be a prestigious win in Week 1, but its only loss on the season came on the road to a top-10 team in a game that was far closer than the final score. That gives you all five of the major conference champions, the top team outside of the Power five and that leaves two at-large bids.

One of the reasons behind Ohio State, which had three wins mathematically better than Alabama's best win, not being selected is that the committee said they couldn't get past the Buckeyes' 31-point loss to Iowa, which of course is understandable.

A five-loss playoff team would sully the Declaration of Independence. Of course, both of those were in the CFP Championship Game. Everyone just values them to different degrees.

The three teams buying for the 4th spot where Alabama, Ohio State, and USC, one of which did not win a conference championship. An eight-team playoff format adds to the chaos, while a the same time, quiets debates like this season's Ohio State-Alabama scenario. "So let's stop talking about them". After making the selection, CFP committee chairman Kirby Hocutt explained why Alabama got in. It doesn't. Yet, with automatic bids for conference champions, it would have received one.

An 8-team playoff solves two of the biggest gripes against the current system: 1) winning a Power 5 conference would mean something more than just a tiebreaker between otherwise even teams; and 2) it would give a team like undefeated UCF a chance to prove they can play with the big schools. Everyone still talks about conference championships.

In the four seasons of the Playoff, there has never been a two-loss program make the final field. There's no metric for that, but it's a thought process that happens all the time in college football.

Not finished yet when finishing would have helped, Edsall supplied a hashtag with this nugget: #AllAboutTheMoney.

It also doesn't hurt that Alabama and Ohio State would settle their debate on the field. The state of Alabama, the nation's 24th-most populous, has a population of 4.9 million.

It took another heavyweight to wrestle the fourth playoff spot away from Ohio State.

Ohio State lost two games, one to #2 Oklahoma, but, it was not only at home, it was also a 15 point loss.

It's always puzzling when an exercise that's #AllAboutTheMoney chooses the lesser amount of money.

And the solution to that is to make more meaningful games mean nothing?

Tide or Buckeyes was the toughest call for the committee in the four-year history of the playoff.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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