Boy, what a lovely playoff we’ve seen so far, huh? From the first game (Michigan over Alabama) coming down to a 27-20 tally in overtime to the second one (Washington over Texas) being a higher-scoring 37-31 that also came down to the final snap, we saw two battles that fans of all teams could enjoy.
As a result of them setting the bar so high, many believe that this could ultimately be the greatest CFP bracket seen so far—but I am not so easily convinced. Again, the semifinal games were objectively great, but I can think of another year where we said the exact same thing: 2023.
For those who either forgot or are just new to this whole sports thing, the 2023 installment of the College Football Playoff had some outstanding semifinal showdowns, with the top-ranked Georgia Bulldogs escaping Ohio State 42-41 on the back of a missed Buckeyes field goal, and underdog TCU stunning unbeaten Michigan in a larger shootout of 51-45.
With how lopsided several CFP games have been in the past, seeing nail-biters like those was refreshment (at least for neutral fans) the likes of which never before experienced. It was so intoxicating that I even found myself hyping up the championship game it spawned—but oh, how wrong I and many others were in doing that.
Last year’s national championship was nothing short of a disaster
What we ultimately witnessed was a marauding that was unpredictably gruesome by any season’s standards, but when following up such misleading semis, it was one of the most disappointing encounters to ever unfold in the history of college football. Despite entering the matchup as just a 13.5-point favorite—which is actually rather convincing in itself—the Bulldogs downed the Horned Frogs by a now-infamous score of 65-7.
The beating was such a hard watch that it changed the way America looks at the CFP, even going as far as altering people’s memories of that TCU team. In other words, that Horned Frogs squad lost so badly that folks now look back on it as being an undeserving weakling in the 2023 bracket, a conclusion that can only be drawn by completely ignoring its semifinal win over the 13-0, Big Ten-winning Michigan.
Speaking of which, that really is the theme I wanted to tackle with this whole rant: The tendency to forget. This time only a year ago, we sat in anticipation for a national championship game that was supposed to be the fitting end to what had been looking like the best playoff to date, and now it appears that fans are doing the exact same thing this time around without even considering the chances of another massive letdown.
I understand that there is nothing about how Michigan and Washington pair up against one another that foreshadows anything near what we got in the 2023 title game, but we didn't expect a 58-point margin to decide Georgia/TCU going into that, now did we?
Simply put, I don’t believe we’ll see another 65-7 or anything close to it next week (it’s an extreme outlier for a reason, after all). However, I’m not going to blindly assume that we’ll see an adequate follow-up to New Year’s Day, either. You know what they say: “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”