Did Georgia Get Screwed out of the Final 2018 College Football Playoff Spot?

Kerry Miller@@kerrancejamesCollege Basketball National AnalystDecember 2, 2018

Georgia QB Jake Fromm
Georgia QB Jake FrommJohn Bazemore/Associated Press

The College Football Playoff selection committee debated late into the night, resumed the heated discussion early in the morning and came to the conclusion that Oklahoma belongs in the national semifinals ahead of Georgia, Ohio State and UCF.

UCF was the only undefeated team left out of the playoff, but the Knights didn't beat a single team that finished in the CFP Top 25. Ohio State went 12-1 with a Big Ten title and several quality wins, but its loss to Purdue was hideous, and its play for more than half of the season wasn't impressive. Those two omissions can be justified.

But Georgia deserves to be in the College Football Playoff.

Full disclosure before we dive in: I had been projecting Oklahoma to get the No. 4 seed since the moment Michigan lost to Ohio State. In other words, I don't actually have a problem with the Sooners being ranked ahead of Georgia. But I also don't have a rooting interest for or against either of those teams and can clearly see both sides of the argument.

And the case for Georgia is that it played one of the toughest schedules in the country, and it got screwed by playing a conference championship game.

The Dawgs had true road games against Kentucky, LSU, Missouri and South Carolina, as well as a tough neutral-site game against Florida in the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. Even their nonconference schedulewhich a lot of people ripped to shreds before the season beganincluded decent games against bowl-bound Georgia Tech and Middle Tennessee.

The Bulldogs lost the road game against an LSU team that was fantastic early in the season. The Tigers debuted at No. 3 in the CFP rankings and likely would have been in the final playoff debate if not for that wild seven-overtime loss to Texas A&M last week. Even though the final margin between Georgia and LSU got a bit out of hand (36-16), no one could rationally argue that loss was worse than Ohio State's loss to Purdue or Oklahoma's loss to Texas.

The road loss to LSU is what made the SEC Championship a do-or-die affair for UGA.
The road loss to LSU is what made the SEC Championship a do-or-die affair for UGA.Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

And the Dawgs won every other game by at least a two-touchdown margin, comfortably taking care of business away from home against the teams who were ranked No. 9 (Florida), No. 15 (Kentucky) and No. 24 (Missouri) in the penultimate CFP rankings.

To the surprise of nobody, the selection committee declared one week ago that Georgia was the best one-loss team in the country. Had the season ended then, the Bulldogs would have been in the playoff.

It didn't, though. Instead, they had to play another brutal neutral-site game against the best team in the nation.

It was a game they led by two touchdowns in the second half and almost certainly would have won if not for one improbable special teams play (a shanked 30-yard field goal by one of the best college kickers ever) and one asinine special teams play (the fake punt heard 'round the world). Georgia outgained Alabama, it didn't commit any turnovers, and all postgame analytics suggest it should have won.

In spite of the seven-point loss in what became the Jalen Hurts redemption story, Georgia proved that it belonged on the field against the favorite to win the national championship. It's just unfortunate for the Bulldogs that someone was required to lose that game.

And it's more unfortunate that Georgia was penalized for the loss while Notre Dame was rewarded for not needing to play a conference championship game, and while Oklahoma was rewarded for beating a team (Texas) that only entered the week ranked as high as No. 14 because it had previously defeated the Sooners.

Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray
Oklahoma QB Kyler MurrayJeffrey McWhorter/Associated Press

Kudos to Oklahoma for avenging that loss, but its play during the regular season was nowhere near as dominant as Georgia's. While the Dawgs were boat-racing legitimate playoff candidates, Oklahoma was either feasting on a steady diet of teams that finished 6-6 or 5-7 or it was barely eking out wins over the likes of Army, West Virginia and Iowa Statequality teams, but a far cry from Florida and Kentucky.

Again, though, I don't have a problem with Oklahoma getting in. It's just necessary to compare those two resumes head-to-head because the real issue is that four playoff teams aren't enoughespecially in a year where Notre Dame crashed the party.

Last year, we had this same impassioned argument about Alabama or Ohio State. The year before that, No. 5 Penn State had a darn fine case for inclusion after winning the Big Ten championship. And who can forget Iowa going 12-0 in 2015 before losing the Big Ten championship on a last-minute touchdown and subsequently getting left out of the playoff?

Until we expand to six or eight teamsI'd prefer the former, since the byes would serve as a reward for the top two teamsthere will always be great, deserving teams who miss the cut due to one September slip-up or a close loss in an onerous conference championship game.

This year, that team is Georgia. And best of luck to poor Texas against that angry Bulldogs squad in the Sugar Bowl. It won't change the playoff pairings, but slaughtering that Big 12 team would be their chance to prove they are a whole heck of a lot better than Oklahoma.

                                                   

Kerry Miller covers college football and men's college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter, @kerrancejames.

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