Why the College Football Playoffs Need Change

The 2018 Rose Bowl. The College Football Playoff began in 2014, and currently includes four teams. (via wikipedia.com)

After 13 captivating weeks, the College Football Playoff selection committee has found itself in the predicament of choosing the best four teams to advance to the semifinal and national championship games. With the exception of 2014 to 2015, the season the college football playoff was implemented, the University of Alabama has appeared in every championship game, taking home the trophy in 2016 and 2018. This year, Alabama remains undefeated as the top-ranked team, followed by Clemson University and the University of Notre Dame, who are also 12-0.

However, this past weekend, fourth-ranked University of Michigan, aiming to keep their playoff hopes alive, suffered a stunning 62-39 defeat to its historic rival Ohio State University. This loss not only likely eliminates Michigan’s chances of making the playoff this year, but also creates controversy over which team should be the new #4.

With a stunning 59-56 win over #13 West Virginia University, fifth-ranked Oklahoma University now sits just outside the top four teams. They are led by two-sport athlete Kyler Murray, the Sooners quarterback who was also drafted by the Oakland Athletics as the ninth overall pick in the 2018 MLB draft.

After their dominant victory over #4 Michigan, the Ohio State Buckeyes moved up to sixth place in the rankings, as their sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins threw for 396 yards and six touchdowns on Saturday.

Currently ranked fourth is the University of Georgia, as it sits at the top of the Southeastern Conference. The Bulldogs host Alabama next week, in a game that has the potential to complicate the college football playoff picture even more.

The only undefeated team outside of the top four spots is the University of Central Florida — a team that has faced diffuculty in being considered for the CFB playoff in previous years. In 2017, the Knights went a perfect 13-0, winning the American Athletic Conference championship before beating Auburn University in the Peach Bowl. To celebrate their historic season, the Knights declared themselves the 2017 National Champions despite not being chosen by the playoff committee, and even had championship rings made as a public protest of the committee. Currently at 11-0, UCF’s latest blow involves its star quarterback, McKenzie Milton, who suffered a brutal knee injury and later had reconstructive surgery. He will have to sit out the rest of the year. In the past, UCF has not been considered for the playoffs because of its less competitive schedule.

As multiple accomplished teams make their case to be included in this year’s playoff bracket, one thing remains clear: the college football committee must expand the number of teams who qualify. By limiting the amount of playoff teams to four, there will continue to be controversy over who should qualify for the top positions. By expanding the playoff format to six or eight teams, the committee will allow more elite teams to have a shot at winning the national championship, including undefeated teams like UCF.

Like the NCAA March Madness tournament, which features 64 college basketball teams from across the country, the CFB playoff committee should simply add more teams. More teams will increase the hype around the playoffs, add room for historic upsets and give more schools a chance at crowning themselves the best team in college football.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Nov. 26 print edition. Email Brendan Duggan at [email protected]

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