NCAA Football Playoffs - Teams and Tickets
With the college football regular season officially over, we can finally stop all of the debate and speculation about the College Football Playoff. The committee has made their decision and we finally know who is in the college football playoffs. In the end, there were no surprises about what teams got in, giving us perhaps the most balanced and competitive 4-team playoff since the NCAA changed to this format. All four teams have a realistic chance to win, which should make college football playoff tickets in high demand among all four fanbases and neutral fans excited to see three compelling games. With a little time before the games kick off on December 28, let’s get to know each team in the College Football Playoff a little better.
The Ligers put together arguably the most impressive resume in college football this year, which is why the CFP committee bumped them up to the top seed in the final rankings. LSU had five wins this season over teams that were ranked in the top-10 at the time, including a road win over Texas early in the season. They also faced a gauntlet in the SEC, knocking off top-15 teams like Florida and Auburn. Most importantly, the Tigers got over the gigantic hump that is Alabama, snapping an 8-game losing streak against the Crimson Tide by beating them 46-41 on the road in early November. Of course, LSU saved their best for last, crushing no. 4 Georgia 37-10 in the SEC Championship Game in what was essentially a road game in Atlanta.
LSU is led by quarterback Joe Burrow, who appears to be the current frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy. He set multiple SEC single-season records for quarterbacks over the course of the season, leading the Bayou Bengals to their first SEC title since 2011. They are now hoping that Burrow can lead them to their first national title since 2007 when LSU won the BCS National Championship Game against Ohio State, which is where Burrow began his career before transferring to LSU in 2018.
2. Ohio State
The Buckeyes are a little upset to be bumped from the top seed to no. 2 between the end of the regular season and the conference championship games. Ohio State certainly had reason to be upset. They finished the season 13-0, including five wins against teams that played in their conference championship games. Ohio State won all 13 of its games by double digits, with an 11-point win over Penn State being their closest game. Ryan Day, in his first full season as OSU head coach, also led the Buckeyes to wins over Florida Atlantic, Cincinnati, Michigan, and two wins over Wisconsin.
Ohio State is as balanced as any team in the country, averaging close 49 points per game while conceding just 12.5 points every time out. Dual-threat quarterback Justin Fields and running back J.K. Dobbins lead an explosive offense while defensive end Chase Young is considered by many to be the best defensive player in the country. Despite winning three straight Big Ten titles, the Buckeyes haven’t been to the College Football Playoff when they lost 31-0 in the national semi-final to Clemson, who will be their opponent in this year’s national semi-final.
Dabo Swinney’s Tigers are ACC champions for the fifth straight season and are in the College Football Playoff for the fifth straight season. Clemson has all but replaced Alabama as the premier program in college football. They have won two of the last three national championships and are the defending national champions after beating Notre Dame and Alabama by a combined score of 74-19 in last year’s College Football Playoff.
Somehow, the Tigers have flown under the radar this season, almost being an afterthought nationally because they didn’t play the most competitive schedule in the ACC, which had a down year. In their defense, they did end up playing eight bowl-eligible teams, which is just one less than LSU and Ohio State. Also, Clemson won just a single game by less than two touchdowns, winning their last eight games by an average margin of over 43 points. On top of all of that, the Tigers enter this year’s College Football Playoff with a 28-game winning streak.
The Sooners are another team that’s no stranger to the College Football Playoff. This is the third straight year that Oklahoma has squeezed into the top-4 and the fourth time in the last five years. You’d expect nothing less from a team that has won five straight Big 12 titles. To be fair, there were plenty of doubts about Oklahoma reaching the CFP over the past month, as the Sooners lost to Kansas State and endured a string of close wins down the stretch. But the Sooners limited themselves to just one loss, and with other teams slipping up late in the year, Oklahoma earned the no. 4 spot.
Unfortunately for Oklahoma, they have not fared well in the College Football Playoff. They have lost in the national semi-final in all three of their previous trips to the CFP, including last year’s loss to Alabama. Ironically, the Sooners are now led by Alabama transfer Jalen Hurts, who has played in the College Football Playoff previously with the Crimson Tide. The former Alabama quarterback will now lead his new team against LSU, one of Alabama’s biggest rivals, in this year’s national semi-final.