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College Football Playoff Hits Rock Bottom

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College Football Playoff Hits Rock Bottom

Clemson defeated Alabama in the National Championship 44-16.

Clemson defeated Alabama in the National Championship 44-16.

Courtesy of Sports Illustrated

Clemson defeated Alabama in the National Championship 44-16.

Courtesy of Sports Illustrated

Courtesy of Sports Illustrated

Clemson defeated Alabama in the National Championship 44-16.

Connor Smith, Sentry Staff Reporter

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The 2018 College Football season was full of exciting moments featuring top teams Alabama, Oklahoma, Clemson and Notre Dame among others competing for a spot in the fifth annual College Football Playoff. Star quarterbacks Kyler Murray (Oklahoma) and Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama) posted record-breaking seasons chasing the 2018 Heisman Trophy which was ultimately won by Murray. Clemson won their fourth consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) title and posted a 13-0 record on their way to yet another appearance in the playoff. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish pulled off their first undefeated season since 2012 behind the arm of quarterback Ian Book. These factors should’ve led to compelling semi-final and championship games. This however was not the case. A multitude of factors including low television ratings, lopsided games, and a controversial selection of teams led to the worst edition of the College Football Playoff ever.

The playoff was created to replace the controversial Bowl Championship Series (BCS) in 2014 by allowing two additional teams to compete for the national championship. However, the idea of every Division 1 college football team having the same chance to play in the playoff was disproven in 2016 when undefeated Western Michigan completed a perfect 13-0 season, but finished number 15 in the final rankings and could only play against three-loss Wisconsin in the Cotton Bowl. Western Michigan was followed by Central Florida in 2017 and 2018, completing back-to-back undefeated seasons but not coming remotely close to competing in the semifinal games. The difference in power between the major “power five” schools and smaller “group of five” schools has shown that winning every single game in a weaker conference gives almost no chance to be in the playoff. In fact, no team from the group of five conferences has ever finished higher than eighth in the final College Football Playoff rankings. This controversy has led some to argue for an expansion from the current four team playoff system to eight or even 16 teams.

After the four teams had been selected, the countdown began for the two games to kickoff on December 29. Notre Dame and Clemson battled in the Cotton Bowl, with the Tigers coming in as double digit favorites. That proved to be correct, as Clemson completely dominated the Irish 30-3 behind 327 yards and three touchdown throws from freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence. The blowouts continued into the second semifinal, with Alabama leading Oklahoma 21-0 after the opening quarter in the Orange Bowl and winning 45-34. This created the fourth straight semifinal matchup between the Tigers and the Crimson Tide, and the third championship game between the two.

There was plenty of media hype going into the 2019 National Championship Game, but the peculiar selection of Santa Clara, California as the site of the matchup led to stadium owners predicting an $8-12 million loss for hosting the event. Additionally, thousands of tickets were still for sale the day before the game as the two teams were forced to travel roughly 4,840 miles combined to play. The game itself was not very interesting, as Clemson led 31-20 at halftime and shut out Alabama’s high-scoring offense in the second half to win 44-16 for their third ever national championship behind 374 total yards from Trevor Lawrence. It was the most lopsided title game since the 2013 BCS National Championship Game between Notre Dame and Alabama, which the Crimson Tide won 42-14. The TV ratings did not make it much better for ESPN – the game ended up being the lowest-rated championship game in the five year history of the College Football Playoff.

Despite another sensational season of college football, the 2018-2019 College Football Playoff proved to be a controversial disaster with one-sided games, low television ratings and a poor selection for the title game’s stadium. Clemson won their two playoff games by a combined 55 points on their way to a historic 15-0 season and their second national championship in three years. Talks of expanding the playoff to eight team has become commonplace and the leaders of college football will have difficult decisions to make in the future on how to make the playoff more exciting once again.

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College Football Playoff Hits Rock Bottom