College Football Playoff Era 2014-2015
It took over 140 years for college football to finally come up with a playoff system. It’s ten miles better than the days when the title was reliant upon the poll system, and it’s better than the BCS, but there are still several major flaws.
Even so, there’s no such thing as a cheap College Football Playoff national champion. The most important games for this section looks at the key games to get into the tournament.
2014 Baylor 61, TCU 58
College Football Playoff: (4) Ohio State 42, (1) Alabama 35 Sugar Bowl College Football Playoff: (2) Oregon 59, (3) Florida State 20 Rose Bowl CFP National Championship: (4) Ohio State 42, (2) Oregon 20
The first season of the College Football Playoff started with a whopper.
TCU was No. 3 in the next-to-last CFP Rankings, and Baylor – who was whacked by West Virginia – was No. 6. In the final two games, TCU destroyed Texas 48-10 and Iowa State 55-3, but when the final rankings came out, it was moved down to sixth.
In an insane firefight against Baylor in the middle of the season, TCU looked like it was going to survive. With the game tied at 58, all the Horned Frogs had to do was convert a fourth down attempt to get into position for a possible game-winning field goal. They were stopped, Baylor – who finished with 782 yards – moved quickly, and Chris Callahan won the game 61-58 on a 28-yard field goal.
When the final CFP Rankings came out, Baylor finished fifth – being named the “one true champion” because of its win over the Horned Frogs. Had TCU won and if things played out as they did, Ohio State wouldn’t have made the CFP, and someone else would’ve won the national title.
Alabama lost to Ole Miss in the final seconds early in the season, but rallied back to win eight straight games – including a 42-13 win over Missouri in the SEC Championship – to earn the CFP No. 1 seed.
Ohio State was stunned early on by Virginia Tech 35-21, and was as low as No. 6 in the CFP Rankings up until the next-to-last week, but the offense stepped it up after the loss, and the defense shut out Wisconsin in a 59-0 destruction in the Big Ten Championship. The Buckeyes kept the momentum going, running by the Tide for a 42-35 CFP win.
Defending national champion Florida State struggled, but it managed to survive and advance week after week to get to 13-0 to up its winning streak to 29 in a row, beating Georgia Tech 37-35 in the ACC Championship. Even with the perfect season, the shaky Noles were the CFP No. 3.
Oregon was stunned by Arizona 31-24, but Heisman-winner Marcus Mariota and the offense were unstoppable the rest of the way, scoring 42 points or more 11 times in the first 13 games including a 51-13 blasting of the Wildcats in a rematch in the Pac-12 Championship. The Ducks were the CFP No. 2 and got off to a slow start against FSU, but blew up to get to the national championship on a 59-20 win.
Ohio State beat Oregon 42-20 to become the first ever College Football Playoff national champion.
2015 Michigan State 17, Ohio State 14
College Football Playoff: (1) Clemson 37, (4) Oklahoma 17, Orange Bowl College Football Playoff: (2) Alabama 38, (3) Michigan State 0 Cotton Bowl CFP National Championship: (2) Alabama 45, (1) Clemson 40
Just when the defending national champions had to kick it all in, it got kicked out of the College Football Playoff.
Ohio State sputtered throughout the 2015 season, but it was 10-0 and on a 23-game winning streak before hosting a banged up Michigan State team without starting QB Connor Cook.
The Buckeyes were stuffed for just 132 yards, and the Spartans dominated the time of possession battle, but it was still a 14-14 tie late, MSU backup Tyler O’Connor marched the offense into position for a possible game-winning field goal, and Michael Geiger hit a 42-yard walk-off shot for a 17-14 victory.
That was OSU’s only loss of the season, destroying Michigan the following week before blowing away Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl. Had the Buckeyes beaten Spartans and taken down Iowa in the Big Ten Championship, they would’ve been no worse than the CFP No. 2 team – Oklahoma would’ve been out.
Michigan State lost to Nebraska 39-38 before the win over the Buckeyes, but it was able to take the Big Ten East title and hold on late against the unbeaten Hawkeyes in the Big Ten Championship for a 16-13 win and the No. 3 seed in the CFP.
Alabama lost to Ole Miss in a wild shootout early in the year, but there were few issues the rest of the way, including a 29-15 win over Florida for the SEC title. The Crimson Tide were the No. 2 seed, and shut down the Spartans to a dead stop in an ugly 38-0 win.
Oklahoma and Baker Mayfield lost to Texas in the middle of the season, but took the Big 12 Championship with seven straight wins including a fantastic run against Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma State to get the CFP No. 3 seed.
Clemson came into the CFP as the only unbeaten team, earning the No. 1 spot after getting past North Carolina in the ACC Championship to go 13-0. The Tigers and Deshaun Watson survived the heat over the Sooners in the Orange Bowl 37-17.
Alabama held on to get past a brilliant day from Watson to win the national title 45-40 in the second CFP National Championship.