The most chaotic College Football Playoff selection process in the history of the event concluded Sunday, though there was little debate as to which program earned the No. 1 seed. Despite playing without coach Jim Harbaugh on the sideline across six games this season, Michigan (13-0) finished the campaign undefeated and captured the top seed in the playoff on the back of its third straight Big Ten championship win Saturday night.
Similarly flawless, though less dominant, Washington (13-0) earned the No. 2 seed with one-loss conference champions No. 3 Texas (12-1) and No. 4 Alabama (12-1) rounding out the four-team field. As such, Florida State (13-0) controversially became the first undefeated Power Five conference champion, finishing No. 5 and just out of the field.
Making their third consecutive playoff appearance, the Wolverines are just the fifth different team to enter the playoff at No. 1 in the 10-year history of the event and do so looking to advance to the CFP National Championship for the first time after being eliminated in the semifinals each of the last two seasons.
The Huskies, after winning the Pac-12 championship Friday night, return to the playoff for the first time since 2016, which also marks the last time a Pac-12 representative had a chance to compete for the national title. With the Pac-12 (as we know it, at least) going by the wayside after this season and UW off to the Big Ten, it also might be the last such representative.
Crashing the party this season are the Longhorns, which captured the Big 12 championship and hold the best win of the season, a 10-point road victory over the Crimson Tide back in Week 2. Texas, which is off to the SEC in 2024, earned a berth to its first playoff as the third different Big 12 team to ever make the field. Texas is the first team from outside the top six in the penultimate CFP Rankings to be elevated into the event.
After taking down two-time reigning national champion Georgia on Saturday to win the SEC championship, Alabama was the most controversial choice. Though the Tide lost to the 'Horns back on Sept. 9, they have been a different team over the second half of the season and took down the previously top-ranked Bulldogs in the final week of games. Alabama is the second team from outside of the top six in the penultimate CFP Rankings to be elevated in the event, joining Texas.
Florida State and Georgia are slotted just outside the four-team field in the fifth and sixth spots, respectively. Though undefeated, the Seminoles suffered from the loss of star quarterback Jordan Travis and underwhelming performances in their final two games of the season. The Bulldogs lost their final game and become the first team listed at No. 1 in the penultimate CFP Rankings to be left out of the four-team field.
No. 1 Michigan will face No. 4 Alabama in the Rose Bowl semifinal, which will be held in Pasadena, California, on Jan. 1 with a 5 p.m. ET kickoff. No. 2 Washington and No. 3 Texas will also meet on New Year's Day in the Sugar Bowl, which will be held in New Orleans with an 8:45 p.m. kickoff. The CFP National Championship is set for Monday, Jan. 8 at Reliant Stadium in Houston.
Michigan, which was a No. 2 seed in both its prior CFP appearances, is 0-2 in the semifinal and 8-12 all-time in the Rose Bowl Game with three straight losses since 2004.
Washington lost its lone semifinal appearance in 2016 and is playing in its first New Year's Day bowl game since 2018. The Huskies have never played in the Sugar Bowl.
Texas has not won a bowl game since 2020 and will make its fifth all-time appearance in the Sugar Bowl. The Longhorns won their last such appearance in the game after the 2018 season.
Alabama returns to the CFP field after being left out last season. This will be the Crimson Tide's eighth playoff appearance in the 10 years of its existence, most of any team. Bama has won six straight semifinal games -- after losing its first effort in the inaugural year of the CFP -- and is 2-0 as a No. 4 seed winning the CFP National Championship from this position in 2017. The Tide won their last Rose Bowl Game appearance after the 2020 season.