Michigan, Washington, Texas and Alabama were selected for the College Football Playoff on Sunday, making Florida State the first undefeated Power Five conference champion to be left out of the four-team field.
Michigan will face Alabama in the Rose Bowl and Washington will face Texas in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1 with the winners meeting for the national championship on Jan. 8 in Houston.
The final four-team playoff season before it expands to 12 next year presented the CFP selection committee with the most difficult decision in the 10-year history of the postseason system.
“Florida State is a different team than it was in the first 11 weeks,” said selection committee chairman Boo Corrigan, who is also North Carolina State’s athletic director. Florida State’s Atlantic Coast Conference rival.
The Seminoles (13-0) lost star quarterback Jordan Travis to a season-ending injury two weeks ago, but continued to win with a backup and then a third-string quarterback. But the committee is tasked with judging teams based on what they envision for the postseason and decided that FSU without Travis was not among the top four in the country.
“To eliminate them from the chance to compete for a national championship is an unwarranted injustice that demonstrates complete disregard and disrespect for their performances and accomplishments. This is unforgivable,” Florida State athletic director Michael Alford said.
Travis is a sixth-year player whose development into one of college football’s best quarterbacks has fueled Florida State’s resurgence over the past three years.
“Devastated. heartbroken,” Travis posted on social media platform X. “I wish my leg had broken earlier in the season so you all can see that this team is about so much more than just the quarterback. I thought results matter. 13-0 and this list matches any team in these top 4 rankings. I’m so sorry.”
Whichever team was excluded had a good argument for entry. This created unprecedented controversy and the committee ignored FSU to choose Alabama, which upset Georgia to win the Southeastern Conference championship, and Big 12 champion Texas, which defeated the Crimson Tide. road in September.
The SEC had never missed the playoffs. Alabama, competing for the eighth time, kept that streak alive.
Texas would have been just the second Power Five team with just one loss to spare. Instead, the Longhorns will make their first appearance in the CFP in their final season as a member of the Big 12. Texas will join the SEC next year.
Texas and Alabama were ranked seventh and eighth, respectively, in the committee’s penultimate rankings and are now the first teams to fall outside the top six of the penultimate rankings to advance to the playoffs. Georgia became the first team to enter championship weekend No. 1 and fail to make the field.
“We had eight really good teams this year, a pretty unique year the last of the four,” Corrigan said.
Big Ten champion Michigan makes its third straight appearance in the CFP, still looking for its first playoff victory. The Wolverines, who remained undefeated amid an NCAA investigation into allegations of in-person scouting and sign-stealing, are the favorite to win the national title, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
Michigan opened as a 1½-point favorite against Alabama.
Washington is in the CFP for the second time, ending the Pac-12’s playoff drought after six years, the year before leaving the conference for the Big Ten. The Huskies opened as 4½-point underdogs against Texas and former Washington coach Steve Sarkisian. The two played last season in the Alamo Bowl and Washington won.
Florida State, which was No. 4 in the previous CFP rankings, appeared to be on track for its second playoff appearance in mid-November when the trajectory of its season changed dramatically. Travis suffered a serious injury in the first quarter against North Alabama and was lost for the year.
The Seminoles beat rival Florida last week with backup quarterback Tate Rodemaker. Then Rodemaker missed the ACC Championship against Louisville with a concussion. Florida State remained undefeated with a strong defensive performance, but only scored one touchdown.
ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips, who was among the conference leaders who helped slow the expansion process a year after the SEC’s plan to add Texas and Oklahoma in 2021, called the exclusion of the “Noles” “unfathomable.”
“Their exclusion calls into question the selection process and whether the committee’s own guidelines were followed, including the significant importance of being an undefeated Power Five conference champion,” Phillips said.
Georgia’s slim hopes of trying to win a third straight national title also ended. The Bulldogs (12-1) had a 29-game winning streak interrupted Saturday by the Crimson Tide.