#1 Clemson v #4 Oklahoma.
#2 Alabama v #3 Michigan State.
Once again, all four CFP Playoff teams will come from the winners from their respective conference championship games. And for the first time in maybe a full decade, I completely agree with and fully support this top 4 ranking.
Let's break this down.
Clemson is the only CFP team to go undefeated. And they convincingly won their conference tournament to boot against a good opponent. 13 wins with zero losses deserves top ranking. They have quite possibly the best QB in college football right now, and he is playing up to the challenge every week. And they just look like a team that is destined to be remembered as the head-and-shoulders-above-everyone-else national champion this year. The only thing not working in their favor, for argument's sake is their sorta weak strength of schedule. But they have played what the ACC has set before them, and that's all that you can ask of them. All that's left is for them to prove that Oklahoma will once again be no match for them come 12/31, at the Cotton Bowl.
Alabama. Yes, they lost early on to Ole Miss. And without that loss they would have been #1 ranked, easily (if not annoyingly. At some point, I just find myself hating on Alabama. Just because they are so damned successful. It's annoying. Saban is annoying. Roll Tide is annoying. That team just annoys me.) Whatever. They are good. And with the strength of schedule and the much, much stronger conference games they had to battle through this year over a team like Clemson, they deserve the second spot. They should have beaten #15 Ole Miss. And for that, they fall.
But it's also only fair they fall only once, as they are the only 1 loss team in CFP to win their conference championship AND be ranked in the top 17 schools. Well, with the lone exception of Ohio State. But those fools don't deserve top 4 ranking. Buckeyes losing to Michigan State proves they don't deserve to usurp any of the playoff teams, simply because they lost to a playoff team. Unfortunate that Alabama didn't run into Oklahoma or Clemson or OK, but thems the brakes for Ohio. They had their chance...
Michigan State beat previously undefeated Iowa in the Big Ten championship. Really, 'nough said there. To say more though, their one loss (12-1) was to a very solid Nebraska team. And all the games they did win were extremely convincing wins. When you beat up on your opponents that badly, you deserve consideration. Add to that a 1 loss season and conf champ win over a top 5 team, and you get in. Only fair.
Oklahoma got embarrassed by Clemson last year. Just destroyed in that bowl game. But ever since, they have played beyond expectation, and look every bit the part of a dangerous playoff team. They are flying under the radar right now, with less hype surrounding them thanks to an earlier-than-everyone-else conference championship game win (rout over OK State 58-23). But they are a legitimate 1 loss team as well for top 4 ranking, with their one loss coming from a close game (24-17) to Texas mid season.
Really, this season got it so right for me simply because the math and decision making based on record and strength of schedule was so unambiguous. Many of times it's so debatable because there are usually a few undefeated teams, and/or several 1 loss teams.. or whatever. And then it becomes about voting, and privilege, and team reputation, and conspiracy theories abound beyond that to why the committees chose what teams they chose.
But this year it all makes perfect sense. The only undefeated high ranking team gets best nod. Then the 3 best conference championship winners with only 1 loss from the best and most competitive conference get the final 3. Easy math. Clear results. Good on CFP this time around. And might I belabor the point to conclude this piece.. WAY better than just a national title game. I seriously hope Michigan State beats Alabama to prove that a 4-team playoff makes for much more compelling drama than just top 2 play for all the glory.