Ohio State Exits 'Life Support' And Enters College Football Playoff At No. 4, Bama Out

In the end, there was no chaos.

Everything happened as most expected Sunday in the final College Football Playoff rankings to decide the national semifinal games on Dec. 31.

It will be No. 1 Georgia (13-0) versusthe No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes (11-1) in the national semifinal in Atlanta on Saturday, Dec. 31 (8 p.m., ESPN), at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in the Peach Bowl.

The other semifinal will be No. 2 Michigan (13-0) against No. 3 TCU (12-1) in Glendale, Arizona, at State Farm Stadium in the Fiesta Bowl on Dec. 31 (4 p.m., ESPN).

Ohio State lost its last game in deflating fashion, 45-23, to Michigan at Ohio Stadium on Nov. 26, but all was not lost. The Buckeyes edged Alabama (10-2) for the No. 4 spot Sunday after jumping up from No. 5. That was because previous No. 4 USC lost, 47-24, Friday to No. 11 Utah in the Pac-12 title game. Alabama finished No. 5 with Tennessee (10-2) at No. 6.

"Hard to explain the range of emotions that have gone on the last seven days," Ohio State coach Ryan Day said after the rankings were announced. "But we saw our name go up there on the board and know that we're to have an opportunity to play. It's like a second lease on life."

Ohio State Buckeyes Overcame Michigan Loss

Ohio State's loss to Michigan was the second in a row. That had not happened since 1999-2000. It was also Ohio State's first home loss to Michigan since 2000 when John Cooper was the Buckeyes' coach.

"A couple days ago, we were on life support a little bit - our season was," Day said. "And now, there's a two-game season ahead of us."

The Big Ten put two teams in the CFP final four for the first time. The four-team playoff format began in 2014 and will move to 12 teams in the 2024 season. Alabama is not in the CFP final four for just the second time.


The previous time Alabama failed to reach the playoffs was the 2019 season when it was also 10-2 at this point.

TCU also lost its last game - in overtime to Kansas State, 31-28, on Saturday in the Big 12 title game. But the Horned Frogs still stayed in the CFP over Alabama because of their strength of schedule and record, much like Ohio State.

College Football Playoff Ignores Conference Title Games

This proved that often conference championship games are meaningless from the playoff perspective. Had Georgia and Michigan each lost the SEC and Big Ten title games Saturday, each would have still been in the CFP final four.


The semifinal winners advance to the national championship game on Jan. 9 at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California (7:30 p.m., ESPN).

The New Year's Six Bowls will be announced later Sunday along with other bowl matchups.

Written by
Guilbeau joined OutKick as an SEC columnist in September of 2021 after covering LSU and the Saints for 17 years at USA TODAY Louisiana. He has been a national columnist/feature writer since the summer of 2022, covering college football, basketball and baseball with some NFL, NBA, MLB, TV and Movies and general assignment, including hot dog taste tests. A New Orleans native and Mizzou graduate, he has consistently won Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) and Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) awards since covering Alabama and Auburn at the Mobile Press-Register (1993-98) and LSU and the Saints at the Baton Rouge Advocate (1998-2004). In 2021, Guilbeau won an FWAA 1st for a game feature, placed in APSE Beat Writing, Breaking News and Explanatory, and won Beat Writer of the Year from the Louisiana Sports Writers Association (LSWA). He won an FWAA columnist 1st in 2017 and was FWAA's top overall winner in 2016 with 1st in game story, 2nd in columns, and features honorable mention. Guilbeau completed a book in 2022 about LSU's five-time national champion coach - "Everything Matters In Baseball: The Skip Bertman Story" - that is available at www.acadianhouse.com, Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble outlets. He lives in Baton Rouge with his wife, the former Michelle Millhollon of Thibodaux who previously covered politics for the Baton Rouge Advocate and is a communications director.