MIAMI LAKES, Fla. (AP) — Florida State won every game this season. Georgia won 29 in a row, including back-to-back national championships, then lost by a field goal. And neither was deemed good enough by the College Football Playoff committee.
A trip to the Orange Bowl is what two very angry teams will get instead.
No. 4 Florida State (13-0 ACC, No. 5 CFP) will play No. 6 Georgia (12-1 SEC, No. 6 CFP) on Dec. 30 in the Orange Bowl after both programs felt like they deserved a chance to play for the national title. The CFP committee decided that the Seminoles were doomed by quarterback Jordan Travis’ broken leg, and dropped Georgia five spots after its loss to Alabama in the SEC title game.
“I’m hurting for our players who have displayed a tremendous amount of resilience and response this season,” Florida State coach Mike Norvell said Sunday. “What happened today goes against everything that is true and right in college football. A team that overcame tremendous adversity and found a way to win doing whatever it took on the field was cheated today. It’s a sad day for college football.”
There were six teams that had realistic arguments to make the four-team CFP field: Michigan, Washington, Texas, Alabama, Florida State and Georgia. The first four of those teams made the playoff, and the Seminoles’ fate — undefeated, ACC champions, and snubbed anyway — even had other schools who made the playoff shaking their head.
“You go undefeated and miss it by one spot, makes me feel sympathy for those guys,” Texas linebacker Jaylan Ford said. “Just like us, they put in the same amount of work in the offseason. They fought just as hard throughout the season. They’re still players. They’ve still got a program. It’s just a tough situation to be in.”
Washington coach Kalen DeBoer — the CFP’s No. 2 seed — was asked if he could imagine going 13-0 and not making the field.
“In all honesty, no,” DeBoer said.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart lobbied unsuccessfully for his team following the SEC title game loss to Alabama. The Bulldogs had been No. 1 in the AP Top 25 all season until Sunday and were either No. 2 or No. 1 in every CFP ranking released before Sunday.
Georgia and Ohio State were the only two teams ranked No. 1 during the regular season by the CFP committee. Neither wound up in the playoff. Since this format was introduced in 2014, there had never been a season where every team ranked No. 1 in the regular season failed to get picked for the playoff field; the only others to go from No. 1 at any point to completely out at the end were Tennessee (one week in 2022) and Mississippi State (three weeks in 2014).
“You’re going to tell me somebody sitting in that committee room and doesn’t think that that Georgia team is not one of the best four teams, I don’t know if they’re in the right profession,” Smart said after the SEC title game.
Evidently, the committee didn’t see it Smart’s way. He was upset for his team — and felt for Florida State as well.
“I empathize with anybody that goes undefeated and doesn’t get in,” Smart said. “I empathize with our players because I personally feel like we deserve to be in. We’ve got a really good football team, we’re considered No. 1 in the country all year and then fell. We’ve got a whole hornet’s nest around here of some players that are disappointed too.”
Georgia and Florida State had one big difference. Georgia lost a game. The Seminoles only lost a quarterback.
Travis’ college-career-ending broken leg in what should have been a largely meaningless game against North Alabama last month might decide the national championship. At minimum, it helped decide who plays for it.
“Florida State is a different team without Jordan Travis,” CFP selection committee char Boo Corrigan said. “One of the things we do consider is player availability, and our job is to rank the best teams, and in the final decision looking at that, it was Alabama at 4 and Florida State at 5.”
The Seminoles beat rival Florida without Travis, then topped Louisville 16-6 for the ACC title on Saturday.
“I wish my leg broke earlier in the season so y’all could see this team is much more than the quarterback,” Travis wrote on social media Sunday. “I thought results matter. 13-0 and this roster matches up across any team in those top 4 rankings. I am so sorry.”
With the teams a combined 25-1, and likely feeling like there’s something to prove, there will clearly be some intrigue for this game.
“Of all the games that are out there in this bowl season, there’s not one that will be more exciting or probably more anticipated than having these two teams,” Norvell said.
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