College Football Playoff committee’s job made easier with upsets

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By Saturday night, Cincinnati was celebrating, Kirby Smart was kneeling before former boss Nick Saban and the college football playoff committee was breathing out.

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A wild Saturday that had two major ups and downs should ease Sunday’s announcement. Alabama’s 41-24 loss to undefeated and top-ranked Georgia in the SEC championship game and fifth-placed Oklahoma State’s last-second loss to ninth-placed Baylor in the Big 12 finals cleared up any confusion.

The question isn’t who enters — Alabama, Georgia, Michigan and Cincinnati must have locks — but where the four teams will be placed. It looks like third-place Crimson Tide — courtesy of their win over Georgia — will take Michigan to No. 1. Alabama is followed by Georgia and Michigan (any number 2 could be), and then Cincinnati. This would pave the way for a rematch of the SEC championship game in the national title game, which would also be a repeat of the 2017 final, which Alabama won in overtime.

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An argument could be made that Michigan deserves to be ahead of Georgia thanks to its win over seventh-placed Ohio State last week. The Bulldogs’ best win is over No. 20 Clemson, but their season-long dominance (they went past opposition 488-83 on Saturday) and three victories over top-25 teams could give them the edge.

But, really, there’s no drama this year after criticism about the committee’s weekly rankings and its potential hesitancy to select an undefeated group of five schools. As of Saturday night, the only mystery involved was Michigan, which wiped out Iowa 42-3 to book its first trip to the playoffs. If Wolverine had slipped, it would have opened the door for Notre Dame. Fighting Irish lack a win over a team in the top 25, which has kept them out by a wide margin.

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Perhaps the biggest question of the day is where Georgia will go from here after SEC rival Alabama has shattered its aura of invincibility. Crimson Tide and Heisman Trophy favorite Bryce Young covered 537 yards against the immortal-looking defense before this meeting. Will Smart, who fell 0-4 against his mentor Saban, now turn to quarterback JT Daniels after Stetson Bennett coughed up two killer infractions and was unable to rally the Bulldogs? Smart did not say that he was considering such a move after the defeat, but that could apparently change in the coming weeks.

Several other interesting stories that will dominate Sunday: the inclusion of underdog Cincinnati, the appearance of Jim Harbaugh and Michigan for the first time, and the sudden resurgence of Alabama as a favorite. Who makes it into CFP, however, should not be in doubt.

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