Last Sunday, the College Football Playoff Committee announced the four teams that earned the coveted postseason spots this season: Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, and Washington. The No. 1-ranked Crimson Tide will face the No. 4 Huskies on New Year’s Eve in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl in Atlanta, Georgia, while the No. 2 Tigers will take on the No. 3 Buckeyes in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl on the same day in Glendale, Arizona. In its third year now, the College Football Playoff has seen much success so far in its ability to give other teams (besides the top two) the chance to play for a national championship. In its inaugural year, No. 4 Ohio State beat No. 1 Alabama to advance to the title game—something that would have been impossible to do the year prior. But the fact remains that even with this new playoff system, only four teams get to make it. And this year, there was as much controversy as ever regarding those desired spots.
Alabama and Clemson are no-brainers. The Crimson Tide went undefeated, and the Tigers only lost one game (a one-point defeat by Pitt a few weeks ago). The real problems begin with the No. 3 and No. 4 teams. Ohio State only lost one game, but it was a pretty important game. The Buckeyes lost 24-21 to Penn State back in October, which ultimately came back to haunt them as it prevented them from playing in the Big Ten conference championship game. The Buckeyes are undoubtedly a great football team—they beat (at the time) No. 3 Michigan the last week of the regular season—but to not even win your conference, yet advance to the playoffs, seems a bit off.
Washington, on the other hand, did win their conference, demolishing No. 8 Colorado 41-10 in the Pac-12 championship game. The Huskies, like Clemson and Ohio State, only suffered one loss this season, and that was to No. 20 USC back in early November. The biggest problem facing the CFP selection committee right now is that Penn State did not make the cut. Although they suffered two losses, both of those were early in the year, before they went on an impressive nine-game winning streak to close out the season. As I mentioned earlier, Penn State beat Ohio State back in October, and capped off their astounding season by coming back from behind to beat No. 6 Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game.
It’s unfair to say that Washington doesn’t belong in the playoffs, but it also seems wrong to leave a team like Penn State out of it, too. Sure, Penn State still gets to play in the Rose Bowl against USC, but the ultimate goal of a college football team is a national championship—not a bowl game, no matter how prestigious it may be. I honestly think that the CFP should expand to eight teams. This has been said before, and it will be said again, but it seems like the best option to go to from here. The fact of the matter is that only allowing four teams is too limiting; there are always going to be teams that arguably should have been in, but didn’t make the cut. Penn State and Michigan should have the opportunity to compete for a national title this winter, but don’t. Expanding the CFP won’t solve every issue the newly implemented system is facing, but it’ll surely help.