College Football Playoff Rankings 2017: Official Committee Poll for Final Week

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistDecember 3, 2017

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 2: Baker Mayfield #6 of the Oklahoma Sooners celebrates after defeating the TCU Horned Frogs 41-17 in the Big 12 Championship AT&T Stadium on December 2, 2017 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)
Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

And then there were four.

The College Football Playoff committee released its final rankings Sunday afternoon, setting up the four playoff seeds in the process. It's a great day to be a Clemson, Oklahoma, Georgia and Alabama fan, as those four teams will compete in this year's playoff. 

Below, we'll take a look at the overall rankings and break down the implications of the committee's decisions.

            

Rankings 

1. Clemson

2. Oklahoma

3. Georgia

4. Alabama

5. Ohio State

6. Wisconsin

7. Auburn

8. USC

9. Penn State

10. Miami

11. Washington

12. UCF

13. Stanford

14. Notre Dame

15. TCU

16. Michigan State

17. LSU

18. Washington State

19. Oklahoma State

20. Memphis

21. Northwestern

22. Virginia Tech

23. Mississippi State

24. NC State

25. Boise State

                    

Background

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 02:  Deon Cain #8 of the Clemson Tigers reacts to seeing the trophy after the ACC Football Championship at Bank of America Stadium on December 2, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The College Football Playoff is in its fourth season of existence, with Ohio State (2014), Alabama (2015) and Clemson (2016) winning the tournament in its first three years. The playoff features the four best teams in college football as determined by a 13-member selection committee comprised of current and former athletic directors, coaches, players and university presidents.

The committee makes its determinations by taking factors like strength of schedule, conference titles and head-to-head competition into account, namely when comparing teams with similar records.

This year's semifinal playoff games will be the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Jan. 1 and the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans that same night. The National Championship Game will be played on Jan. 8 in Atlanta. 

                   

Analysis

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 02: Jake Fromm #11 celebrates with Malik Herring #10 of the Georgia Bulldogs after beating the Auburn Tigers in the SEC Championship at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 2, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C.  Cox/Getty Ima
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Clemson, Oklahoma and Georgia made the committee's life easy when they won their respective conference titles Saturday, earning playoff bids in the process. Things got more complicated when two-loss Ohio State knocked off previously unbeaten Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship, however, leaving the committee with quite the dilemma for the final playoff berth. 

Ohio State and Alabama each presented the committee with a different argument.

The Buckeyes had the better overall resume, with victories over Penn State, Michigan State and Wisconsin, all ranked higher than any of the teams Alabama defeated this season. Unlike Alabama, Ohio State won a conference title. 

Alabama, meanwhile, had just one loss (falling 26-14 to Auburn on the road), arguably a better loss than either Ohio State's 31-16 defeat at home to Oklahoma or 55-24 beatdown against Iowa on the road. Alabama head coach Nick Saban also argued that the team's season-opening win against Florida State—then No. 3 before stumbling to a 6-6 record—would likely look far better had the Seminoles not lost quarterback Deondre Francois for the season. 

The debate was fierce, but in the end, Alabama earned the nod. Committee chairman Kirby Hocutt further elaborated on the decision to go with the Crimson Tide over the Buckeyes:

The reward for getting into the playoff is a date with defending champion Clemson, however. The Tigers rolled Miami in the ACC title game, 38-3, and have won six straight after a shocking 27-24 loss at Syracuse.

"We're the attacking champs," head coach Dabo Swinney said, per the Associated Press, eschewing the traditional "defending champions" jargon. "We're attacking to try and win another one." 

Oklahoma and Georgia, meanwhile, will feature a fascinating clash of styles. The Sooners' high-flying offense is led by Heisman hopeful and quarterback Baker Mayfield, who has his team cooking with fire. The Sooners have won eight straight games, including two victories over TCU in that time by a combined 42 points.

While Oklahoma decimates teams through the air, ranking third in passing yards per game (367.4) and fourth in points per contest (44.9), Georgia is led by a ground-and-pound offense and a stifling defense. The Bulldogs are fourth in the nation in yards allowed per game (270.9) and are giving up just 13.2 points per game (tied for third).

Styles make fights, and Oklahoma and Georgia couldn't be more polarized in their particular styles. If the game is a shootout, the advantage goes to Oklahoma. A low-scoring battle of attrition in the trenches favors Georgia, meanwhile.

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