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Here’s how the 2023 College Football Playoff field compares to preseason predictions

We take a look at how the experts’ preseason predictions panned out.

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2023 SEC Championship - Georgia v Alabama Photo by Steve Limentani/ISI Photos/Getty Images

In one of the more dramatic College Football Playoff reveals in the format’s decade-long history, the selection committee laid out the 2023 final four on Sunday:

No. 1 Michigan Wolverines
No. 2 Washington Huskies
No. 3 Texas Longhorns
No. 4 Alabama Crimson Tide

Of course undefeated ACC champion Florida State was excluded from the field, and that might not have been the right decision.

So how does this compare to the experts’ preseason predictions? Let’s take a look at how things have changed since August:

The Athletic, August 28

  1. Georgia
  2. Michigan
  3. LSU
  4. USC

ESPN, August 21

Michigan, Ohio State, USC, Georgia (no seeds)

CBS, August 28

  1. Georgia
  2. Michigan OR Ohio State
  3. Penn State OR Alabama OR Michigan OR Florida State OR USC
  4. Ohio State OR Texas OR Florida State OR Oregon OR Clemson

College Football News, August 20

  1. Georgia
  2. Michigan
  3. USC
  4. Ohio State

ESPN Football Power Index, May 30

  1. Ohio State
  2. Georgia
  3. Alabama
  4. Texas

How’d they do?

The consensus among most of these rankings was that either two Big Ten teams or two SEC teams would reach the playoff, and thus two of the three other Power Five conferences would be left out of the playoff. No one had Washington in the mix, and the Huskies have now grabbed the No. 2 seed. The experts were high on USC and okay with Oregon — if only they could have seen that Alex Grinch-led Trojans defense coming.

The Texas projections panned out well. The Longhorns defeated Alabama early in the season and were perfect outside of a midseason loss in the Red River Rivalry. Georgia was, understandably, a top pick all around. The Bulldogs were two-time reigning national champions heading into the season, and it would have been foolish to count them out with their offensive weapons.

Ohio State did get in last year despite their loss to Michigan in Week 13, but what no one saw coming was just how competitive the top eight teams would be. They were competing for a spot in the top four with two one-loss conference champions, the reigning national champion, and an undefeated conference champion. The field was just too tight to include OSU for a second consecutive year.