CFP Chair says Clemson dominance, Buckeyes’ weak schedule played role in rankings

by - Senior Writer -
Clemson played Ohio State in the College Football Playoff last season.
Clemson played Ohio State in the College Football Playoff last season.

The initial College Football Playoff rankings for the 2020 season were released Tuesday night, with Alabama debuting in the top spot with Notre Dame at No. 2. Some might have been shocked to see a one-loss Clemson team in the third spot, but committee chair Gary Barta said that the Tigers’ dominance and Ohio State’s (No. 4) schedule all played a role.

The College Football Playoff matches the No. 1 ranked team vs. No. 4, and No. 2 vs. No. 3 in semifinal games that rotate annually among six bowl games – the Goodyear Cotton Bowl, PlayStation Fiesta Bowl, Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, Capital One Orange Bowl, Allstate Sugar Bowl and Rose Bowl Game. This season's Playoff Semifinals will take place Friday, January 1, 2021, at the Rose Bowl Game and the Allstate Sugar Bowl. The College Football Playoff National Championship will be Monday, January 11, 2021, at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.

Barta was asked about Ohio State at the beginning of the call, and he said that the Buckeyes’ weak schedule played a role.

“Ohio State has an incredibly dynamic offense led by Justin Fields and so many weapons. I think they're scoring around 45 points a game. So it's clear to the committee that Ohio State is a very good football team,” Barta said. “But as you look at the rest of their schedule, they ended up with three of their wins – the other three wins other than Indiana, and Indiana is certainly ranked high, 12th in the country, but the other three teams they've played have a combined record of 2-12. That certainly factored in. It was one factor in where Ohio State ended up. But Ohio State is a very good football team, and the committee certainly believes that.”

Barta then said that the committee took note of Clemson’s dominance this season.

“Well, one of the things the committee noted right away before we talked about the Notre Dame loss is just the domination in the wins that they had and the consistency level of play week in and week out, so that was certainly part of the conversation, the quality win over Miami earlier in the season, and then we talked about that loss to Notre Dame. It was a heck of a football game for sure,” Barta said. “But we do note when a player or some key players are not available for a game, and in that case it was well noted that Trevor Lawrence wasn't able to play, and I think two or three defensive starters were also out for that game.

“It's all part of the discussion, but the committee was very impressed with Clemson even in that game without Trevor Lawrence but certainly the rest of the season and their resume up until that point.”

Barta said that while Ohio State’s offense is dominant, the defense bears watching.

“Well, we talk about both. We talk about the loaded offense, and certainly there are so many weapons there,” he said. “If you look at the scores and you watched the games, we're going to keep an eye on Ohio State's defense. There's a lot of talent there, as there always is, but just so far in the four games we've watched, that's certainly an area we're keeping an eye on. But again, no hesitation to put them at the fourth spot, but that's probably an area we'll keep an eye on in the games moving forward.”

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