CFP Set: Alabama To Face No. 4 Oklahoma, Clemson Takes On Notre Dame

Kevin Stott

Sunday, December 2, 2018 2:41 PM UTC

Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018 2:41 PM UTC

Georgia hoped to rain on Oklahoma and Ohio State’s parade with an upset of No. 1 Alabama, but the Crimson Tide rallied and earned a trip to the CFP semis against No. 4 Oklahoma.

Alabama, Clemson Win ACC, SEC Saturday, Oklahoma Earns #4 Spot

Championship Saturday saw #1-ranked Alabama (12-0 SU, 8-4-0 ATS) rally to knock off (then) #4 Georgia in the SEC Championship Game from Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta with backup QB Jalen Hurts coming in for the injured Tua Tagovailoa to do his best Superman impersonation and lead the Crimson Tide to a dramatic 35-28 win over the Bulldogs (ALA -12). That sealed Alabama as top seed in the CFP rankings and a spot in the Cotton Bowl and their fifth CFP trip in five CFP seasons. Perhaps we should now justly rename the CFP (Semifinals) as the “Alabama Invitational?”

Kyler Murray and (then) #5 Oklahoma defeated #10 Texas in the Big 12 Championship Game, 39-27 in an exciting game from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. It had much more significance than their annual Red River Showdown, with the result needed for the Sooners who outscored Texas 12-0 in the 4th quarter with a one-handed TD catch by Grant Calcaterra with 2:00 left sealing the win. This gave Oklahoma backers the ATS cover (OK -9½) and possibly ultimately being the punctuation mark to put Boomer Sooner — winners of 4 straight Big 12 titles — in a position needed to get consideration to be the No. 4-ranked team by the CFP Selection Committee, thus earning their spot in the Cotton Bowl on Dec. 29 and shot at defending champs Alabama.

Earlier this fall, the Golden Nugget Race and Sports Book in Las Vegas posted spreads for four theoretical National Championship games and the Crimson Tide were installed as 14½-point chalks over the Sooners. Expect a smaller number now with Tagovailoa’s health a concern (sprained ankle, expected to be out 2 weeks) and the matchup set in stone.

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The #CFBPlayoff top 6️⃣:

1️⃣. Alabama // @AlabamaFTBL // #RollTide
2️⃣. Clemson // @ClemsonFB // #AllIn
3️⃣. Notre Dame // @NDFootball // #GoIrish
4️⃣. Oklahoma // @OU_Football // #BoomerSooner
5️⃣. Georgia // @FootballUGA // #GoDawgs
6️⃣. Ohio State // @OhioStateFB // #GoBucks

— College Football Playoff (@CFBPlayoff) December 2, 2018

The evolution of the Orange Bowl CFP Semifinal was fairly anticlimactic with Ian Book and Notre Dame (12-0 SU, 7-5-0 ATS) solidifying their spot in the NCAAF Final Four as the independent school beat USC at the Coliseum, 27-14 (ND -11) last weekend on Nov. 24 to stay put in the No. 3 spot. That locked in a showdown with Trevor Lawrence and the CFP’s No. 2-ranked team and 2016 CFP winners, Clemson (13-0 SU, 7-6-0 ATS), massive 27½-point favorites over Pitt in the ACC Championship Game on Saturday, won by the Tigers, 42-10. They remain unbeaten and punch their CFP ticket which we learned Sunday during ESPN’s College Football Playoff Selection Show (12 p.m. ET). The show also revealed the remaining New Year’s Six games and the new Top 25 rankings heading into the bowl season with only the #23 Army-Navy game left on the slate (Saturday, CBS, DirecTV 789, 3 p.m. ET).

And fresh off of their win over rivals Michigan last weekend, Dwayne Haskins and #6 Ohio State ran into upstart #21 Northwestern — the first FBS team ever win their division (West) without a non-conference win (0-3) — in the Big Ten Conference Championship Game from Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis (OSU -16) and the Buckeyes winning 45-24 to make it 31 wins in last 32 meetings against the Wildcats, but making a possibly futile case for the #4 ranking after Oklahoma — ranked ahead of the Buckeyes heading in — had won and Georgia almost upset Bama, both played earlier in the day.

The 2019 CFP National Championship Game is scheduled to be held at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California on Monday, Jan. 7 (ESPN, 8 p.m. ET) with Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Tom Rinaldi and Maria Taylor as the game’s announcers. Next year, the Fiesta Bowl (Glendale, AZ) and Peach Bowl (Atlanta) will host the two CFP Semifinal games with the Championship Game set to be held at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.

Orange Bowl (CFP Semifinal #1)#2 Clemson (13-0) vs. #3 Notre Dame (12-0)Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL4 p.m. EST (ESPN, WatchESPN, ESPN Deportes)Opening Odds: Clemson -11½, 65½Free NCAAF Pick: Clemson -11½Best Clemson Line Offered: 5Dimes

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Cotton Bowl (CFP Semifinal #2)#1 Alabama (13-0) vs. #4 Oklahoma (12-1)AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TexasTime: 8 p.m. EST (ESPN, Watch ESPN, ESPN Deportes)Opening Odds: Alabama -13½, 63½Free NCAAF Pick: Oklahoma +13½Best Oklahoma Line Offered: 5Dimes

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Four In CFP Simply Not Enough, Especially When One Conference Snags Two Spots

The way the CFP Playoffs and rankings have evolved since becoming a legitimate thing in 2014 has been a great thing for NCAA College Football on the FBS level, but the simple truth now, and for the last couple of seasons, is that this thing badly needs to be expanded to (just) 8 teams, for now and forever to make it the perfect decider and bracket as NCAA College Basketball has done with their now 68-team March Madness. For some January Joviality or whatever, the CFP needs to expand to eight teams as it really seems there are only three open spots every season with the SEC’s Alabama always so damn dominant.

The NFL has 12 of its 32 teams (37.5 percent) make the postseason with a chance to make and win the Super Bowl. MLB has 8 of its 30 teams (26.6 percent) make the playoffs, the NBA has 16 of its 30 franchises in the postseason (53.3 percent) while the NHL has 16 of its 31 teams make the playoffs (51.6 percent).

The FBS has 130 schools now and just 4 (3.1percent) — sometimes two from the SEC itself — who actually have a chance to win an NCAAF national championship. Maybe not as bad as a Russian presidential election, but still not a fair fight Bubba, especially for the non-Power Five Conferences who have sent zero teams to the CFP National Championship Game while the SEC has had 5 of the 10 participants in the five years with the Crimson Tide now having been in the CFP all five times.

For the NCAA College Basketball (Division I) Tournament, 68 of the 351 Division I schools (5.16 percent) get a chance to make the Big Dance and maybe win a national title. It’s definitely fair to ask whether or not the possible No. 5 through No. 8-ranked teams deserve to be in a theoretical eight-team playoff with the formidable #6 (heading into Saturday) Ohio State, #3 Georgia, #7 Michigan and #8 UCF all involved this season.

Ohio State only lost only once (at Purdue), Michigan also only lost once (at Ohio State), Georgia lost twice, but to the NFL-like defending FBS champions Alabama and LSU, while Central Florida hasn’t lost in 25 games after rallying to win the AAC Championship Game on Saturday, beating Auburn (2018 Peach Bowl), Pitt as well as AAC-mates Cincinnati and South Florida twice and Memphis an impressive three times over that span. So, you draw your own conclusions.

For now it remains a collision and endless conversation about who the four “best” teams vs. the four “most-deserving” teams. Adding a quarterfinal round and four more teams would eliminate the reality of a quality team like Georgia — whose blowout loss to LSU was probably the reason it’s on the outside looking in — not being in the CFP and having that sacred chance to play for a national championship, something hard enough as it is when you play in the same conference as mighty Alabama.

Odds to Win 2018/19 FBS Championship

(Dec. 2, BetOnline)

Alabama -220

Clemson +340

Notre Dame +1000

Oklahoma +800

College Football Playoffs Championship Props

Dec. 2, 2108 (BetOnline)

Will Alabama or Clemson Win the CFP?

Yes -800

Will Alabama Win the CFP?

Yes -220, No +180

Will Clemson Win the the CFP?

Yes +340, No -425

Will Notre Dame Win the CFP?

Yes +1200, No -2000

Will Oklahoma Win the CFP?

Yes +1400, No -2500

CFP Final Top 25 Rankings

Dec. 2, 2108 (Last Week in parenthesis)

1. Alabama (1)

2. Clemson (2)

3. Notre Dame (3)

4. Oklahoma (5)

5. Georgia (4)

6. Ohio State (6)

7. Michigan (7)

8. UCF (8)

9. Washington (11)

10. Florida (9)

11. LSU (10)

12. Penn State (12)

13. Washington State (13)

14. Kentucky (15)

15. Texas (14)

16. West Virginia (16)

17. Utah (17)

18. Mississippi State (18)

19. Texas A&M (19)

20. Syracuse (20)

21. Fresno State (25)

22. Northwestern (21)

23. Missouri (24)

24. Iowa State (23)

25. Boise State (22)

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