"While UCF may not have the depth or talent of Ohio State, right now UCF has the better all-around team", Playoff chair Rob Mullens said on ESPN when asked of the reason for the move. But these games are also the most exciting and meaningful games of the season to the players, coaches and fan bases, as rivalry games bring out the greatest emotions, energy and effort. It is the highest spot by a Group of 5 member in the history of the CFP. The example often give is Houston of the American Athletic Conference in 2016. Do LSU and Georgia sneak back into the picture? If the Gators hold that spot, they will likely earn an at-large appearance in one of the major bowl games, probably the Peach Bowl on December 29 or the Fiesta Bowl on January 1.
But a Group of Five team with those types of nonconference victories, plus a strong conference record and league title, would have a chance to make the final four. Its game against North Carolina was cancelled by a hurricane, and the Tar Heels aren't any good, anyway.
MSU is 6-5 overall and 4-4 in the Big Ten and are bowl eligible for the 11th time in 12 seasons under Dantonio.
Is it an undefeated UCF team without McKenzie Milton? At that point Notre Dame would likely reach the playoff no matter what it does against Southern California this weekend. The Tigers beat Georgia and have losses to No. 1 Alabama and No. 11 Florida.
That would leave Clemson 12-1, with a loss to Pitt - the team UCF crushed.
The two semifinals, which rotate yearly, will take place in Miami at the Orange Bowl and in Dallas at the Cotton Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 29. They also have a common opponent in TCU, a factor the committee considers, and even that was somewhat similar, as Ohio State's defense allowed the Horned Frogs 28 points and the Sooners allowed 27.