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College football playoff changes have all but ended chances of a split national championship

The question seemed valid moments after undefeated ACC champion Florida State was left out of the College Football Playoff.

Could the fourth-ranked Seminoles, with a win over defending national champion and No. 6 Georgia in the Orange Bowl, be voted No. 1 in the final Associated Press College Football Top 25 poll?

“In principle, I would consider ranking Florida State No. 1, whether or not it’s in the CFP field,” said ESPN’s Rece Davis, a longtime AP Top 25 voter . “Just like the selection process itself, the exercise is about determining who I think is the best team.”

In reality, however, the current state of the College Football Playoff all but renders the conversation moot.

Between players transferring or choosing to opt out to focus on NFL Draft preparations and coaching staffs upended by hirings and firings, the better question these days is how much consideration poll voters should grant to post-season games outside the CFP?

“This is my 14th time as an AP voter, and I definitely think I’ll be less likely to vote significantly for teams after bowls than in the past,” said Scott Rabalais of The Advocate of Baton Rouge (Louisiana). ). .

On Saturday in the Orange Bowl, Florida State will be a shell of the team that won the Atlantic Coast Conference championship. Quarterback Jordan Travis is still recovering from a broken leg, an injury that essentially kept the Seminoles out of the playoffs. Many of FSU’s top players, including defensive end Jared Verse, running back Tre Benson and wide receiver Keon Coleman, have opted out ahead of the NFL draft.

Earlier this week, No. 2 quarterback Tate Rodemaker elected to transfer and skip the game.

Georgia is in better shape. Nineteen Bulldogs hit the transfer portal after the season, although most were backup players. It appears All-America tight end Brock Bowers and highly-rated tackle Amarius Mims will miss the game after injury-interrupted seasons.

“If Florida State easily handles Georgia and all three CFP games are missed, then I would happily vote for the No. 1 Seminoles, but that’s not going to happen,” said Top 25 voter Robert Cessna. the AP, from Bryan-College Station (Texas). ) Eagle.

No. 1 Michigan (13-0) faces fourth-seeded Alabama (12-1) in the Rose Bowl semifinals and No. 2 Washington (13-0) faces No. 3 Texas (12-1) in the Sugar Bowl semifinals on Monday. . The final AP Top 25 is released hours after the Jan. 8 national championship game.

Rabalais covers No. 13 LSU, which will face Wisconsin in the ReliaQuest Bowl in Tampa on Monday without Heisman Trophy winner Jayden Daniels, who has opted out.

“The absence of a player of Daniels’ caliber has to be taken into consideration if LSU lost and I was deciding where to place them in my last ballot,” he said.

In some cases, the bowl-playing teams barely resemble the ones that won those playoff trips and seedings.

Take the Sun Bowl, with No. 15 Notre Dame (9-3) facing No. 21 Oregon State (8-4) in El Paso, Texas, on Friday.

Neither team will have their starting quarterback after Notre Dame’s Sam Hartman (NFL draft) and Oregon State’s DJ Uiagalelei (transfer) opted out.

The Irish are missing most of their starting offense, including All-America offensive tackle Joe Alt and running back Audric Estime, a second-team All-American. Offensive coordinator Gerad Parker recently accepted the head coaching position at Troy.

Beavers coach Jonathan Smith leaves for Michigan State after the regular season finale. They are left with just one third-string quarterback, although they have starting experience in Ben Gulbranson, and several key players have transferred. Top rider Damien Martinez is serving a suspension.

“Statistics matter. This counts in the win-loss column. When people look at the record of Notre Dame and Oregon State in the future, they will include the results of this game. In that regard, well, I’ll take it into consideration,” Matt Brown of The Athletic said on the AP Top 25 College Football podcast. “On the other hand, what if Notre Dame and Oregon State had these rosters for most of the year? The teams that take the field really won’t be in the top 20.”

The Peach Bowl with No. 10 Penn State facing No. 11 Mississippi is shaping up to have a pretty good representation of each team, although Nittany Lions All-American offensive lineman Olu Fashanu said only that ‘he would be with the team, not that he will play. His teammate and standout defensive end Chop Robinson will not play.

“It’s almost like we’re going back in time in the way bowl games are viewed,” Brown said.

For much of the 20th century, bowl games were few and far between and were not counted in the final AP poll. It wasn’t until 1968 that the AP began publishing a final poll after the balls were bowled.

As late as 1973, Alabama and Notre Dame shared the national title because the coaches’ poll didn’t take bowl games into account. The Fighting Irish beat the Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl and finished No. 1 in the AP poll, but the coaches had already declared Alabama No. 1.

The last time there was a shared national title was 2003, when Southern California was voted No. 1 by AP after being left out of the BCS title game, won by LSU against Oklahoma.

The four-team playoff all but guaranteed that wouldn’t happen again. The Florida State snub at least offers a chance to consider that possibility, but with a 12-team playoff next season, shared national championships will — like triangle and tearaway jerseys — become part of football’s past university.

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at http://www.appodcasts.com. Get alerts on the latest AP Top 25 poll throughout the season. Register here. AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football

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