What the committee got right and wrong in the final College Football Playoff rankings

Oklahoma. Georgia. Ohio State. Not one of the three contenders for the final spot in the College Football Playoff field were "unequivocally" better than the others, said selection committee chairman Rob Mullens, so the committee leaned on one of its main protocols: when considering the merits of comparable teams, conference championships matter.

In the end, it's why Oklahoma was boosted into the fourth and final spot, where the Sooners will meet No. 1 Alabama in the Orange Bowl. The other will match No. 2 Clemson and No. 3 Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl. Oklahoma had one fewer loss, one to Georgia's two, and owned a conference title.

It's a tidy piece of reasoning to justify the swap of Sooners and Bulldogs. Of course, it only went so far: Georgia still remained ahead of No. 6 Ohio State. By the same rationale, the Buckeyes should've moved into fifth after pinning down a second impressive win in a row, this one against Northwestern to win the Big Ten championship. Keeping Ohio State behind Georgia shoots a hole in the two themes Mullens put forth in explaining the committee's rationale — that conference championships were important and no single team of the three contention stood out from the pack.

Clearly, both statements were inaccurate in the case of Ohio State. Not that it's ultimately too meaningful: Georgia and the Buckeyes were headed to a New Year's Six bowl regardless of where each team fell outside of the top four. Nonetheless, the lack of consistency in message — an issue for Mullens in particular throughout the past month-plus of rankings — puts a dent in the committee's credibility.

It still would've been harder to justify two-loss Georgia getting back to the playoff ahead of Oklahoma. If the task put forth to the committee is to weave through the data and metrics to create the best four-team field, consider this mission accomplished: Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame and Oklahoma was the right call.

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