Undefeated Florida State excluded from College Football Playoff

Michigan will face Alabama in the Rose Bowl and Washington will play Texas in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1.
Posted at 2:00 PM, Dec 03, 2023

Michigan, Washington, Texas and Alabama were selected to the College Football Playoff on Sunday, making Florida State the first unbeaten Power Five conference champion to be excluded from the four-team field.

Michigan will face Alabama in the Rose Bowl and Washington will play Texas in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1 and the winners will meet for the national championship Jan. 8 in Houston.

The final season of the four-team playoff before it expands to 12 next year presented the CFP selection committee with the toughest decision in the 10-year history of the postseason system.

"Florida State is a different team than they were through the first 11 weeks," said selection committee chairman Boo Corrigan, who is also the athletic director of Florida State's Atlantic Coast Conference rival North Carolina State.

The Seminoles (13-0) lost star quarterback Jordan Travis to a season-ending injury two weeks ago, but continued to win with a backup and then a third-string quarterback. But the committee is instructed to judge the teams for what they are heading into the playoff and decided FSU without Travis was not among the best four in the country.

"To eliminate them from a chance to compete for a national championship is an unwarranted injustice that shows complete disregard and disrespect for their performance and accomplishments. It is unforgivable," Florida State athletic director Michael Alford said.

Travis is a sixth-year player whose development into one of the best quarterbacks in college football has fueled Florida State's resurgence over the last three years.

"Devastated. heartbroken," Travis posted on the social media platform X. "I wish my leg broke earlier in the season so y'all could see this team is much more than the quarterback. I thought results matter. 13-0 and this roster matches up across any team in those top 4 rankings. I am so sorry."

Whichever team was left out had a good argument to get in. That created unprecedented controversy and the committee passed over FSU to pick Alabama, which upset Georgia to win the Southeastern Conference championship, and Big 12 champion Texas, which beat the Crimson Tide on the road in September.

The SEC had never missed the playoff. Alabama, which is in for the eighth time, kept that streak alive.

Texas would have been just the second Power Five team with only one loss to be left out. Instead, the Longhorns will be making their first appearance in the CFP in their last season as a member of the Big 12. Texas moves to the SEC next year.

Texas and Alabama were ranked seventh and eighth, respectively, in the committee's penultimate rankings and are now the first teams to jump from outside the top six in the second-to-last rankings into the playoff field. Georgia became the first team to enter championship weekend No. 1 and fail to make the field.

"We had eight really good teams this year, somewhat of a unique year in the last year of the four," Corrigan said.

Big Ten champion Michigan is making its third straight appearance in the CFP, still looking for its first playoff victory. The Wolverines, who have stayed unbeaten amid an NCAA investigation into allegations of in-person scouting and sign-stealing, are the favorites to win the national title, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

Michigan opened as a 1 1/2-point favorite against Alabama.

Washington is in the CFP for the second time, breaking the Pac-12's playoff drought after six years, and doing so the year before it leaves the conference for the Big Ten. The Huskies opened as a 4 1/2-point underdog to Texas and former Washington coach Steve Sarkisian. The two played last season in the Alamo Bowl and Washington won.

Florida State, which was No. 4 in the previous CFP rankings, appeared to be on the way to its second playoff appearance in mid-November when the trajectory of their season changed drastically. Travis suffered a serious injury in the first quarter against North Alabama and was lost for the year.

The Seminoles beat rival Florida last week with backup quarterback Tate Rodemaker. Then Rodemaker missed the ACC championship against Louisville with a concussion. Florida State stayed unbeaten with a strong defensive performance but scored only one touchdown.

ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips, who was among conference leaders who helped slow down the expansion process by a year after the SEC's plan to add Texas and Oklahoma was revealed in 2021, called leaving out the 'Noles "unfathomable."

"Their exclusion calls into question the selection process and whether the committee's own guidelines were followed, including the significant importance of being an undefeated Power Five conference champion," Phillips said.

Georgia's slim hopes of trying for a third consecutive national title also came to an end. The Bulldogs (12-1) had a 29-game winning streak snapped Saturday by the Crimson Tide.