theSkimm's Guide to

THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF

🏈 🎓 🍻 College football partnership 01 College football header 01 Photo credit: Getty Images PUBLISHED DEC 16, 2016

THE STORY

The college football playoffs are here. Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.

WHY DO I CARE?

Because the playoffs are the grand finale of the college football season. Teams have been sacking, punting, throwing, and Blue 42-ing their way to this point for months. Now, one of them’s about to get bragging rights as the best in the country.

HOW DOES THIS WORK?

A committee of 11 men plus Condoleezza Rice has been releasing weekly rankings for the top 25 teams in college football since November. The teams are ranked based on things like whether they won their conference championship and how difficult their schedule was during the season. Earlier this month, four teams were chosen to make a date for New Year’s Eve – aka when the playoff semifinal games take place. These are also bowl games, which is why Alabama and Washington are saying ‘hey ya’ll’ to the Peach Bowl while Clemson and Ohio State are mixing it up in the Fiesta Bowl. The winners of each bowl will pack their sunscreen and head to Florida for the national championship.

WAIT...IS THIS HOW IT’S ALWAYS WORKED?

Nope. A few years ago, College football said ‘bye Felicia’ to a system called the Bowl Championship Series (or BCS). The BCS was the ugly stepsister of the NCAA for more than a decade. There were no semifinal games – just one championship. And the rankings were heavily based on computer formulas. So teams could be ranked number one all season and still not make it to the championship. Now, the BCS is out and the College Football Playoff – or CFP – is in.

WHO’S GOING TO THE PLAYOFFS THIS YEAR?

Alabama...as in the team that’s been No. 1 all season. Not only are they the reigning champs, they’ve made it to the playoffs every year since the CFP became a thing. Now, all eyes are on QB Jalen Hurts, who could be the first starting freshman QB to get his team a national title in more than three decades. Roll tide.




Photo Credit: Getty Images

Washington...as in the team that edged out Penn State to end the season ranked No. 4. Washington only lost one game all season and won their conference championship. They’re playing ‘Bama first, and Vegas is betting against them. Sorry Huskies.




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Clemson...as in the team that lost to Alabama in last season’s championship game. Now they’re hoping for a do-over. The Tigers have only lost one game all season. That might have something to do with QB Deshaun Watson. He was runner-up for the Heisman Trophy two years in a row. NBD.




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Ohio State...as in the team that made Michigan fans cry last month in a major double overtime upset. They’re the only team in the semifinals that didn’t win their conference championship. But apparently they’re good enough that the selection committee doesn’t care. O-H-I-O.




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OK, WHEN DO I WATCH?

While pregaming for New Year’s Eve. The Peach Bowl kicks off at 3pm ET. The Fiesta Bowl starts at 7pm ET. Keep some champagne on ice. The championship is Jan. 9.

AREN’T THERE OTHER BOWLS?

Yup. There are 40 of them. Think: Rose Bowl, Citrus Bowl, Alamo Bowl. This is what a lot of teams that didn’t make the playoffs will be doing in the next few weeks.

theSKIMM

The CFP is the Super Bowl of college football, and this year, ‘Bama’s the one to beat. Again. TBD on whether we’ll be seeing crimson come Jan. 9, or a different team will Hail Mary their way to victory. Hut hut hike.