Michigan vs Alabama, Washington vs. Texas in College Football Playoff; unbeaten Florida St left out

Michigan, Washington, Texas and Alabama were selected to the College Football Playoff and Florida State became the first unbeaten Power Five conference champion to be excluded from the four-team field in its 10-year history

Ralph D. Russo
Sunday 03 December 2023 17:33 GMT
APTOPIX Big 12 Championship Football
APTOPIX Big 12 Championship Football

Michigan, Washington, Texas and Alabama were selected to the College Football Playoff on Sunday, making Florida State the first unbeaten Power Five conference champion to be excluded from the four-team field.

The final season of the four-team playoff before it expands to 12 next year presented the CFP selection committee with its toughest decision in the 10-year history of the postseason system.

The Seminoles (13-0) lost star quarterback Jordan Travis to a season-ending injury two weeks ago, but continued to win with a backup and then a third-string quarterback. But the committee is instructed to judge the teams for what they are heading into the playoff and decided FSU without Travis was not among the best four in the country.

Michigan will face Alabama in the Rose Bowl and Washington will play Texas in the Sugar Bowl in the Jan. 1 CFP semifinals. The national championship will be decided Jan. 8 against Houston.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

The four-team version of the College Football Playoff is going out with drama and controversy.

Championship weekend created as many questions as answers for the CFP committee and the selections Sunday will be the first in the 10-year history of the system where the field is truly hard to predict.

No. 2 Michigan (13-0) and No. 3 Washington (13-0) appear to be safely in. There are three — and maybe even four — teams in contention for the final two spots that in most years would have cruised into the CFP.

Not this year. And it won't be a problem next year when the playoff expands to 12 teams.

No. 4 Florida State (13-0), No. 7 Texas (12-1) and No. 8 Alabama (12-1) gave the 13-member committee a lot to think about Saturday night.

The Seminoles finished a perfect regular season with an Atlantic Coast Conference championship, leaning on their defense to beat No. 15 Louisville while playing a third-string, freshman quarterback.

No unbeaten Power Five champion has ever been left out of the CFP, but with injured star quarterback Jordan Travis out for the season is Florida State really one of the four best teams?

“It’s entertaining to have the conversations, but I don’t think you need a conversation," Florida State coach Mike Norvell told reporters. "This is a team that is deserving. This is a team that earned it.”

Here are few other things that have never happened before that very well might Sunday.

— The No. 1 team heading into championship weekend had never missed the CFP, even with a loss. After losing to Alabama, top-ranked Georgia's quest to become the first team to win three straight national titles is in critical condition.

“When you talk about the four best teams, watch the game,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said. “Go ask the NFL talent evaluators. Go ask NFL scouts. It’s about the best teams.”

The Bulldogs (12-1) had a 29-game winning streak snapped in the Southeastern Conference championship game, but they might not even be a big part of the committee's discussion for one of the final two spots.

— No team ranked outside the top six of the second-to-last CFP rankings has ever jumped into the final four. Both Alabama and Texas, which romped over No. 19 Oklahoma State in the Big 12 championship game, have a chance to make that leap Sunday.

— The SEC champion has never been left out of the College Football Playoff. Six times the CFP champion has been from the SEC and twice the conference has had both participants in the title game.

"So we’re the best teams, and do we want the best teams?” Smart asked.

The only thing that is certain heading into college football's selection Sunday is that a few fanbases are bound to be unhappy with the committee's choices.

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at http://www.appodcasts.com. Get alerts on the latest AP Top 25 poll throughout the season. Sign up here

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AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll

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