The Ducks are going to the Rose Bowl! After lengthy deliberations, the Oregon Ducks were confirmed Sunday morning on ESPN as one of four teams in the first College Football Playoff. The New Year’s Day semifinal playoff games are No. 2 Oregon vs No. 3 Florida State in the Rose Bowl and No. 1 Alabama vs No. 4 Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl.
The final decision put forth by the playoff selection committee did not escape controversy. The fourth and final position proved to be contentious with Ohio State jumping TCU and Baylor at the last minute and removing the Big 12 from the national championship picture.
University of Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long, the selection committee chair, explained to ESPN what lifted Ohio State to that fourth spot above TCU and Baylor.
“I think with the championship game, Ohio State demonstrated they were a total team and they did overcome replacing two quarterbacks, and that’s a tremendous statement about the quality of their team. With a conference championship in the Big Ten, with a win over the western division champion Wisconsin, it was decisive for Ohio State to move into that four spot,” Long said.
The Big 12 does not currently have a championship game and therefore has one less opportunity to impress the committee. Long explained that it wasn’t about TCU or Baylor losing ground, but rather Ohio State gaining favor with the committee in its final blowout win over Wisconsin in the B1G Championship game.
“We really don’t deal in hypotheticals. So they don’t have that game, but again I’ll go back and say that Ohio State’s performance in a 13th game gave them a quality win against a highly-ranked team that allowed them to move into that fourth spot,” Long said.
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby expressed his disappointment and confusion with the committee’s decision during ESPN’s College Football Playoff Selection Show.
“It’s clear that we were penalized for not having a postseason game. It would have been nice to have been told that ahead of time,” Bowlsby told ESPN’s Rece Davis.
The confusion surrounding the Big 12 starts with its motto, “One True Champion.” In the event of a tie, Big 12 coaches and athletic directors unanimously decided to have conference co-champions. This year, both Baylor and TCU are considered Big 12 champions, Baylor being the “true champion” with a tiebreaker victory over TCU earlier this year. There is no championship game for the Big 12 because there are only ten teams in the conference. The NCAA does not allow ten team conferences to hold a championship game, a rule Bowlsby says his office is currently appealing.
“We were faced with co-champions and that’s what was given to us by the conference and we weighed that,” Long said.
The Ducks, however, were firm in their placement and will face reigning national champion Florida State in an exciting matchup between the current Heisman favorite Marcus Mariota and former Heisman winner Jameis Winston.
While Long acknowledged that the playoff pairings are truly exciting, he stressed that the committee did not try to create the most entertaining matchups.
“We really focused on the teams and who they played. Florida State, we felt, moved to that fourth position because their body of work, they won that championship and remained undefeated. So that’s what moved them into three, there wasn’t a discussion about matchups and who would make a better matchup,” Long said.
The Oregon Ducks are in contention for their first national title bid since the 2011 BCS National Championship game against Auburn.
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