After missing out on playoffs, FSU Seminoles and Georgia Bulldogs to meet in Orange Bowl

They entered the final week of the season in position to make it to the College Football Playoffs.

They wound up on the outside looking in.

So instead of competing for a chance at a national championship, the Florida State Seminoles and the Georgia Bulldogs — the top two teams left out of the four-team playoff field — will compete in the Orange Bowl on Dec. 30. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. at Hard Rock Stadium.

The Big 10 champion Michigan Wolverines, Pac-12 champion Washington Huskies, Big 12 champion Texas Longhorns and Southeastern Conference champion Alabama Crimson Tide took the top four spots in the College Football Playoff rankings, as announced Sunday afternoon.

That left Florida State and Georgia as the odd teams out as Nos. 5 and 6 in the rankings and resulted in a pair of firsts happening in the 10th and final year of the four-team version of the College Football Playoff.

FSU (13-0) became the first undefeated conference champion from a Power 5 conference to be left out of the playoff field. The Seminoles won the Atlantic Coast Conference championship with a 16-6 win over the Louisville Cardinals on Saturday, but that wasn’t enough to convince the committee to keep them in the top four. FSU lost star starting quarterback Jordan Travis late in the regular season to injury and then saw backup Tate Rodemaker go down as well in the regular-season finale against Florida.

“Florida State is a different team than they were through the first 11 weeks,” Boo Corrigan, athletic director at NC State and the chairman of the 2023 CFP selection committee, said on ESPN after the playoff field was revealed. “Coach [Mike] Norvell, their players, their fans [had] an incredible season, but as you look at who they are as a team right now without Jordan Travis, without the offensive dynamic that he brings to it, they are a different team. And the committee voted Alabama four and Florida State five there.”

Needless to say, that logic didn’t sit well with Florida State or the ACC.

‘Florida State deserved better’: FSU, ACC react to Seminoles being left out of playoffs

FSU athletic director Michael Alford released a lengthy statement Sunday that, in part, said the committee’s decision “has forever damaged the credibility of the institution that is the College Football Playoff.”

“And, saddest of all, it was self-inflicted,” Alford’s statement continued. “They chose predictive competitiveness over proven performance; subjectivity over fact. They have become a committee of prognosticators. They have abandoned their responsibility by discarding their purpose – to evaluate performance on the field.”“Our players, coaches, and fans - as well as all those who love this sport - deserve better. The committee failed college football today.”

ACC commissioner Jim Phillips in a statement called the decision to leave FSU out of the playoff field “unfathomable.”

“Their exclusion calls into question the selection process and whether the Committee’s own guidelines were followed, including the significant importance of being an undefeated Power Five conference champion,” Phillips said. “My heart breaks for the talented FSU student-athletes and coaches and their passionate and loyal fans. Florida State deserved better. College football deserved better.”

Dec 2, 2023; Atlanta, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart embraces Alabama Crimson Tide defensive lineman Khurtiss Perry (97) after the Alabama Crimson Tide defeated the Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC Championship at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 2, 2023; Atlanta, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart embraces Alabama Crimson Tide defensive lineman Khurtiss Perry (97) after the Alabama Crimson Tide defeated the Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC Championship at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia, meanwhile, became the first team in the College Football Playoff era to be ranked No. 1 in the second-to-last poll of the season to not make the playoffs. The Bulldogs (12-1) entered the SEC Championship a perfect 12-0 and on a 29-game win streak before losing to Alabama 27-24 on Saturday.

The Orange Bowl since 1999 has featured the ACC champion (or highest ranked ACC team not in the College Football Playoff) and since 2014 had the ACC team face the highest-ranked non-champion among teams from the Southeastern Conference, Big Ten or Notre Dame.

Georgia is making its fourth Orange Bowl appearance and first since a 34-11 win over Michigan on Dec. 31, 2021, when the game was a College Football Playoff semifinal.

Outside of that, the Bulldogs have not been in the Orange Bowl since 1960. They won in 1942 (40-26 over TCU) and 1960 (14-0 over Missouri) but lost in 1949 (41-28 to Texas).

This will be Florida State’s 11th time playing in the Orange Bowl and first since 2016 when they beat Michigan 33-32. The Seminoles are 5-5 all-time in the Orange Bowl.

This will mark the 12th time FSU and Georgia have met in a college football game and the first time since the 2003 Sugar Bowl that Georgia won 26-13. Overall, Georgia is 6-4-1 all-time against FSU but the teams haven’t met since 1984 outside of that Sugar Bowl matchup.