According to College Football Playoff selection committee chairman Boo Corrigan, there was no effort to avoid an Ohio State/Michigan rematch in the CFP semifinals.
Corrigan said there was no discussion among committee members about trying to avoid pitting the Buckeyes and Wolverines against each other, but that the committee felt TCU deserved to be ranked ahead of Ohio State, giving the Horned Frogs the No. 3 seed and the Buckeyes the No. 4 seed in this year’s CFP.
TCU suffered its only loss of the season in Saturday’s Big 12 Championship Game, with that loss coming in overtime to Kansas State, a team it already beat during the regular season. Kansas State was ranked 10th in the penultimate CFP rankings and will almost certainly move up in the final rankings when they are released in full later this afternoon after winning the Big 12 title.
Ohio State, on the other hand, did not make it to the Big Ten Championship Game after suffering a 45-23 loss to Michigan in the final week of the regular season. The Horned Frogs finished the season with 12 wins compared to Ohio State’s 11, and the committee decided they should be the higher-seeded one-loss team as a result.
“You're looking at body of work,” Corrigan said. “You look at the last five games, I believe they're (TCU) giving up about 20 points a game on defense. The way that game flowed yesterday and their ability to come back and their ability to play the way they do. Max Duggan, what a warrior to go through the game the way he did, to put them in a position to take the game not only to overtime but a chance to win that game. And again, as a committee, we looked at it and full body of work, a lot of respect for Kansas State in that room as well. That win kind of won the day for TCU to be the No. 3 team.
“We were looking at getting the right four teams. And as we went piece by piece by piece, we ended up in the order that we did with TCU at three and again, based on the body of work over the course of the season.”
Corrigan said the committee didn’t view Ohio State’s loss to Michigan as a blowout despite the lopsided final score, but said the fact that TCU forced overtime in its only loss of the season was a factor in the Horned Frogs remaining ahead of the Buckeyes.
“I think as you look at it and you're evaluating the whole game, we're not evaluating the first half or just the second half, we're looking at the totality of the game,“ Corrigan said. “And as you're looking at that, TCU and Kansas State kind of led down that road, if you will, with TCU coming back yet again. Taking the field goal earlier in the game makes it an eight-point game, then they score the touchdown, get the two-point conversion to send it into overtime. And later in the game with Ohio State-Michigan, as the game was an eight-point game, you saw Michigan pull away. And while the margin was greater, it's certainly you're trying to look at the game in its entirety and then again, push that forward into the whole body of work by the season.”
There were some people who thought Alabama deserved a spot in the College Football Playoff despite losing two games this season, and the Crimson Tide did come in as the fifth-ranked team in the final CFP rankings. Corrigan, however, said the committee was more impressed with Ohio State’s body of work than Alabama’s, not only because the Buckeyes had one fewer loss but also because the Buckeyes had bigger wins against Penn State and Notre Dame than any opponent Alabama beat.
“I think you look at the big wins as well as part of this and the win that Ohio State has over Notre Dame, the win they have over Penn State. Compare that to Alabama with the wins over Texas, Mississippi State, some other close games,” Corrigan said. “Again, keep in mind that the Michigan game did get away from them, but it was a one-score game early in the fourth quarter, and as we looked at the total body of work that we had, the committee was comfortable with Ohio State at four and Alabama at five.”