The Committee Got it Right with Oklahoma over Georgia

Staff Writer: Michael Brown

There was quite the controversy surrounding the fourth spot in this year’s College Football Playoff. Everyone knew the top two should/would be Alabama and Clemson, and the very large majority correctly believed that Notre Dame should be the third team in; all three of these teams were undefeated. The committee faced a tough decision, though, when deciding who would take the final spot in the College Football Playoff. Would it be Georgia? Oklahoma? Ohio State? UCF? Everyone had an argument, but only one could get that coveted spot.

I listed UCF and Ohio State, but I’m not sure either really had much of a chance. It would’ve been especially hard for the defending self-proclaimed National Champion Knights. They finished the season undefeated (again), and the win streak now stands at 25. But the strength of schedule (or lack thereof) has consistently been too much for the committee to overcome. Combine that with the horrific injury McKenzie Milton suffered against South Florida, and it wasn’t promising for UCF. They have another shot at a big boy now, as they get LSU in the Fiesta Bowl. Here’s to 26 in a row and back to back titles for the Knights.

Ohio State, too, was going to need some help to get in I think, and they didn’t get it. The Buckeyes entered Championship Saturday ranked 6th, behind Georgia (4) and Oklahoma (5). They absolutely needed Georgia to lose (as did Oklahoma), and probably by a somewhat large margin. Instead, Georgia dominated Alabama for the first three quarters, and then got outscored 21-0 to finish the game, and lost a heartbreaking game to the Crimson Tide for the second year in a row. Earlier in the day, Oklahoma had beaten Texas, so that basically eliminated Ohio State in my eyes. It’s hard to jump a team like that if you both win, especially if the team you’re trying to jump didn’t lose to Purdue by 4 touchdowns, like Ohio State did. Buckeyes’ Head Coach Urban Meyer still made his case for Ohio State, though, “There’s a lot of great football teams out there, and we’re one of those great football teams. There should be a lot of merit to winning your conference, which we did. You look at the road wins we had — at Penn State, at Michigan State, at TCU — and then obviously the way we played against the fourth-ranked team in America, and the way we played tonight. So I don’t know if we’re in a position to start making statements about where we belong, but I know they’ve got a tough decision to make because we’re a heck of a football team.” Still, Ohio State lost to Purdue by 4 touchdowns. You can’t do that. End of story.

So that left Georgia and Oklahoma, and this is where things became really interesting. Georgia entered Championship Saturday with a record of 11-1. Its best win was Florida (on a neutral field in Jacksonville), and its lone loss was in Baton Rouge where Georgia got smacked around by LSU, losing by 20. The Bulldogs were ranked 4th going into the SEC Championship going up against top-ranked Alabama. Oklahoma entered Championship Saturday at 11-1 also, its lone loss to Texas in the Red River Showdown at the Cotton Bowl, a 48-45 defeat in which a furious comeback fell just short, thanks to Dicker the Kicker. Everyone knows how great Oklahoma is on offense, it’s historically great with Kyler Murray at quarterback, weapons like Hollywood Brown and CeeDee Lamb and Trey Sermon in the backfield, the best offensive line in the country, and the best offensive mind in College Football, Lincoln Riley, calling plays. But the defense, man. The defense is so bad. It’s hard to think of a word to describe it, but “ghastly” is one that comes to mind.

So that’s where we were going into Championship Saturday. Georgia would be in with a win over Alabama, likely knocking Oklahoma out regardless of its play against Texas because Alabama would still make it. Oklahoma would need a win and a Georgia loss, and then it’d need to hope the committee didn’t think Georgia was still “unequivocally better.” The first game up was Oklahoma-Texas, which kicked at noon EST. Texas started fast, but Oklahoma didn’t let it phase them; the eventual Heisman winner Kyler Murray made so many great plays, and the Sooners’ defense even had its moments, shutting out the Longhorns in the 4th quarter. Oklahoma won the game 39-27, won its 4th consecutive Big 12 Championship, and ha

ceedee lamb

Oklahoma wide receiver CeeDee Lamb makes an awesome catch against Texas in the Big 12 Championship. Oklahoma won the game 39-27 – PHOTO CREDIT – Jeffrey McWhorter, AP

d put together a great final statement for the committee. Alabama-Georgia kicked right around the time Oklahoma’s game ended, and it was all Georgia to begin, similar to their game last season. The parallels between the two games were staggering, actually. Just like last season, Jake Fromm played fantastic against Alabama, and Georgia actually ran the ball very well this time around too. Alabama looked gassed on defense, and for the first time in his Alabama career, Tua Tagovailoa looked…average. I’m sure a lot of that could be attributed to his gimpy knee and then the ankle issues he suffered during the game. The ankle finally gave out late in the game, and Jalen Hurts came in to replace him. This is crazy because it was in this game last year that the legend of Tua Tagovailoa was born, as he replaced a struggling Jalen Hurts to bring Alabama back from a two-touchdown deficit to beat Georgia and win the National Championship. This time, Jalen came in for Tua, and after riding the bench all season, he redeemed himself by scoring two touchdowns to tie the game and take the lead respectively, with a boneheaded fake punt from Georgia Head Coach Kirby not-so-Smart in between to help them out. Alabama won the game 35-28, and Georgia once again blew a big lead against the Tide, this time it was 28-14 before they got outscored 21-0 to finish the game. So Oklahoma had what it needed. It won, convincingly, and Georgia lost.

jalen hurts

It’s thanks to Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts (2) that Georgia lost and we could even have this debate. Shouts to him for the awesome journey he went on to get to this point, and for the awesome game he played – PHOTO CREDIT – Getty Images

 

It set up for a debate in the minds of some, though, because Georgia had played so well in a loss. You could’ve possibly made the argument that Georgia was “unequivocally better” than Oklahoma, and just put them in anyway. Oklahoma Head Coach Lincoln Riley made his case on Selection Sunday, “My opinion doesn’t matter and I’m not on the committee. We’ve given it everything we have. We have left everything that we’ve got out there this season. We have a great resume.” He also claimed that his team’s performance this season had been “remarkable” up to that point. Kirby Smart, though, said after the loss to Alabama that Georgia was “most definitely” one of the four best teams in the country. He was later asked about the statement his team made to the committee in their loss, and he answered, “Well, it boils down to one thing. Do you want the four best teams in or not? It’s that simple. [Alabama] sat at home last year and got to go in the game while everybody else [was]

NCAA Football: SEC Championship-Alabama vs Georgia

These Georgia players were very sad after yet another loss to Alabama after giving up a big lead.  In 120 minutes of regulation time between Georgia and Alabama the last two seasons, Georgia led or was tied with Alabama for 119 of those minutes, and lost both games. It has now been 39 years since Georgia won a National Championship – PHOTO CREDIT – Saturday Down South

beating each other up, and they had a good football team. Give that coach across the sideline (Nick Saban) a vote who he doesn’t want to play. He’ll start with us. I promise you, you don’t want to play us. It’s not our decision. It’s their decision. But you’re going to put the four best football teams in.” There are some problems with that argument. First of all, Georgia isn’t that much better than Oklahoma. Vegas said Georgia would likely be favored by 3.5 on a neutral field. Because the teams are close enough to each other, there are certain criteria to be assessed. Oklahoma won its conference, Georgia didn’t. Oklahoma beat every team on its schedule (they avenged their only loss, which was to Texas), while Georgia lost to the two best teams on its schedule (one of which was by a margin of three touchdowns to a team with three losses). Oklahoma’s best win (Texas, by 12) was pretty much equal to Georgia’s best win (Florida, by 19), and Oklahoma’s worst loss (Texas, by 3), was significantly not-as-bad as Georgia’s (LSU, by 20).

kirby smart

Georgia Head Coach Kirby Smart saw his team blow yet another big lead in a game of monumental importance. What will it take for them to finish a game when it matters? Not faking a punt on 4th and 11 from midfield would likely be a good start – PHOTO CREDIT – John David Mercer, USA TODAY Sports

So, sure, I can admit that Georgia is likely a little bit better than Oklahoma just based on the eye test, and would probably beat them if the two played. Woodstock junior Virginia Beyers noted the teams’ difference in strength of schedule, arguing that, “Oklahoma didn’t have to play the best team in the country (Alabama) like Georgia just did, and if it had, they would have lost too, probably in a game that wasn’t as close as the one between Georgia and Alabama.” That’s a valid complaint, but at the end of the day, you gotta win your conference, no matter who’s in it. The thing is, “likely” and “probably” should only matter to some extent, and, at some point, the results on the field must matter. And if they do matter, Oklahoma should be the team in. That’s how the committee saw it, and that’s why they were right to have Oklahoma at 4 rather than Georgia on Selection Sunday.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: