AP Explains: The first College Football Playoff
Oregon and Ohio State play the first College Football Playoff championship game Monday night in Arlington, Texas. The game culminates the first playoff at college football’s highest level. Oregon is considered the favorite behind star quarterback Marcus Mariota, who won the Heisman Trophy as college football’s best player this season. Ohio State has made it to the championship game despite losing two talented quarterbacks to injuries this season. Here’s a brief explanation of the College Football Playoff and how these two teams came to play in it.
A NEW ERA
For decades major college football had no structure when it came to determining a champion. Postseason bowl games were played with little regard to matching the very best teams, and afterword voters in The Associated Press media poll would rank the teams and crown a champ. In the 1990s, the bowls and conferences tried to organize a true championship game and eventually that led to the creation of the Bowl Championship Series. The BCS, as it was known, created a No. 1 vs. No. 2 game to end the season. It was progress, but many fans still felt unsatisfied. Polls and computer rankings were used to pick the teams and inevitably, with only two spots, deserving teams were left out. Two years ago, the leaders of the major college football conferences decided to create a four-team playoff to debut this season. The teams were chosen in December by a selection committee made up of 13 former college football coaches and players and college sports administrators. One major conference, the Big 12, was left out.
HOW THEY GOT HERE
The first national semifinals were held last week at traditional New Year’s Day bowls and were the most-watched events in cable TV history. Second-seeded Oregon, Pac-12 Conference champions, beat third-seeded Florida State, the defending national champions, 59-20 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. Ohio State, Big Ten Conference champions, was the fourth seed and played top-seeded Alabama on New Year’s Day at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. The Buckeyes upset the Southeastern Conference champs 42-35 to reach the championship game.