Breaking down Ohio State and UCF's chances against Alabama and Georgia

Did the College Football Playoff Selection Committee get it right?

It's a question asked every year around this time, and while it's a simple one, the answer can be more complex. This year, Alabama and Ohio State jockeyed for the coveted No. 4 spot with the Crimson Tide "clearly" getting the nod over the Buckeyes, even though there was previously "very little separation" between the two. 

And then there was undefeated UCF. While the Knights weren't going to the playoff regardless, it was downright disrespectful for the committee to keep underrating a team that was obviously top-10 caliber, if not close to top-five. 

Post-New Year's Day, we have more clarity on that one question. With Alabama getting back to its old ways and demolishing No. 1 Clemson, and with No. 3 Georgia getting outside its normal comfort zone to beat No. 2 Oklahoma in a high-scoring Rose Bowl for the ages, we have the two best teams. Plenty of people may not like that they're from the SEC, but the results are what they are

But how would Ohio State, the team left out, and UCF, the underdog looking for its shot, have fared against the Crimson Tide or Bulldogs if given that chance in the national championship? The SportsLine simulator ran each of those scenarios. In conclusion, Alabama would win against either team easily, but the result for Georgia is a little more interesting. Take a look ... 

MatchupWin percentageScore

Alabama

80

31

UCF

20

17

MatchupWin percentageScore

Georgia

57

27

UCF

43

24

MatchupWin percentageScore

Alabama

60

23

Ohio State

40

19

MatchupWin percentageScore

Georgia

35

19

Ohio State

65

26

A few takeaways ...

First, you have to suspend a little disbelief here because we're going straight to the national championship; we're not recreating the entire playoff field. These are numbers in a vacuum and should treated as such. 

Our SportsLine simulator already said last month that Alabama would beat Ohio State on a neutral field. In fact, the win percentage is the same. Nothing changed in the great debate for No. 4, post-semis. While there's no doubt the Buckeyes had the better top-end wins in the regular season, the 31-point loss at Iowa is impossible to look past. Ohio State's A-game was as good as anyone's, it just didn't bring it all the time. Even coach Urban Meyer admitted as much when he spoke with ESPN on Selection Sunday. And while the Buckeyes rolled against USC in the Cotton Bowl, they were sluggish in the second half and scored 17 of their 24 points in one quarter. If the Buckeyes were going to put their best foot forward, they only put it out halfway. 

However, the Buckeyes would be projected to beat Georgia. While we're not going to rewrite history, it's a more reasonable question to ask whether Ohio State would have gotten past Clemson to have that opportunity because of the No. 1-No. 4 matchup. The Tigers shut out Ohio State in last year's Fiesta Bowl semifinal 31-0. But with the way Alabama's defense dominated Clemson in the trenches during the Sugar Bowl, perhaps Ohio State's defensive front could have caused similar havoc. 

UCF is a more clear-cut answer. The Knights have been one of the best stories this season, but the simulator simply doesn't like them against either team, though the numbers are closer against the SEC champion Bulldogs. But, hey, Vegas didn't like UCF in the Peach Bowl against Auburn, either, and the Knights more than held their own in a 34-27 win. Keep in mind, too, that Auburn beat both Alabama and Georgia in the regular season. Not that transitive properties mean much, especially during bowl season, but it's a fun little anecdote to think about. 

The selection committee certainly has its faults, but all of the jumping through hoops and ensuing criticism is just noise as long as the question "did it get it right?" is followed with a "yes." That will always be a subjective question by nature, but based on the simulated numbers above, it appears the committee did. 

CBS Sports Writer

Ben Kercheval joined CBS Sports in 2016 and has been covering college football since 2010. Before CBS, Ben worked at Bleacher Report, UPROXX Sports and NBC Sports. As a long-suffering North Texas graduate,... Full Bio

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