Celebrating the most entertaining teams of 2017

Pollack says Mayfield should be drafted first (1:36)

David Pollack breaks down why Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield deserves to come off of the draft board first. (1:36)

The College Football Playoff semifinals are set. Your four best teams, as chosen by the selection committee, are as follows: No. 1 Clemson, No. 2 Oklahoma, No. 3 Georgia and No. 4 Alabama.

We thank everyone for participating in this year's 14-week tryout for those four exclusive postseason spots.

While we gear up for some epic playoff matchups on Jan. 1, we'd be remiss if we didn't revisit just how fun the 2017 college football season was. From gold chains to sideline trash cans, the 2017 season was one for the ages. We had glorious Hail Mary finishes and a different Heisman Trophy favorite just about every week. Favorites fell, and dark horses charged.

That was before one of the nuttiest coaching carousels we've probably ever seen.

It was a lot of fun to watch, which brings us back to our Watchability Rankings. You know, the teams that make you drop the bean bag during corn hole at a tailgate to watch. The teams you watch on your phone during your best friend's poorly planned fall wedding.

We're talking about teams we can't take our eyes off of. Sorry, Alabama, but you didn't make the list. You're great and all, but we didn't see the kind of explosion we expected from Brian Daboll taking over the offense. Frankly, we missed Lane Kiffin.

And USC, your end-of-season run was great (five straight wins with three coming by double digits), but outside of the weekly show that was quarterback Sam Darnold, you just weren't the Hollywood action thriller we expected at the beginning of the season.

The Watchability Rankings highlight the top 10 most entertaining teams in 2017. Teams were ranked on a scale of 1 to 5, with the five categories from the preseason:

1. Finebaum Factor: A rough estimate of where a team fits in the national discussion -- and we're not talking about only on Saturdays. Are Phyllis and Tammy talking about the team on The Paul Finebaum Show? Does it move the needle on Twitter? Good teams that are in championship contention from September through November measure high in this category.

Team that scored high in this category but didn't crack the top 10: Alabama

It's not like Alabama isn't one of the four best teams in the country (well, I guess that's debatable), but the Tide didn't exactly get us out of our seats this season.

2. Cage factor: Whether it's on the sideline or in the huddle, a team has to have a recognizable, exciting and capable leading man. Otherwise, it's as if you're watching yet another Nicolas Cage flick. Teams with All-Americans, likely first-round draft choices and colorful coaches get extra points here.

Team that scored high but didn't crack the top 10: Michigan

We barely knew that Jim Harbaugh was still around college football this season because of how eerily quiet he was. Maybe it was because of that bottom-dwelling offense and those four losses, including a third straight to Ohio State.

3. Spurrier factor: Wide-open, fast-paced, no-huddle offenses are a lot more fun to watch than the plodding, conservative, 3-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust teams. You know which teams we're talking about: the ones outside the SEC. But it has to be within reason; no one wants to watch a four-hour game in which no defense is played.

Team that scored high but didn't crack the top 10: Louisville

That Lamar Jackson guy is still pretty good, huh? Averaging 560 yards and 39 points per game is easy on the eyes. But our interest in the Cardinals dipped after Clemson routed them at the beginning of the season.

4. Corso factor: This category encompasses everything that has to do with college football's pageantry, from the marching bands to the traditions to whether or not your favorite team has a cool mascot head for Lee Corso to wear on Saturday mornings. Tradition is what makes college football so special. Without it, we're watching the NFL.

Team that scored high but didn't crack the top 10: Oregon

If your mascot is a motorcycle-riding duck, you're definitely a team we have our eyes on. If quarterback Justin Herbert had stayed healthy, Oregon might have had nine wins on its résumé this season.

5. Freeze factor: Along with tradition and pageantry, scandal and bitter rivalries are what make college football so great. Some schools have better reputations than others, and some coaches are known to skirt the rules more than others. The coaches who make you want to shower after watching their postgame news conferences earn bonus points.

Team that scored high but didn't crack the top 10: Ole Miss

Even before the season, the Rebels were dealing with lawsuits, NCAA investigations and telephone calls to escort services. After the season, the Rebels were hit with another postseason bowl ban and 13 more scholarship reductions. Hugh Freeze's time in Oxford is going to make for a fantastic "30 for 30" one day.

All ties are broken by personal preference or a coin toss. Here's the top 10:

10. Georgia (17.6 points)

(Preseason Rank: NR)

Defense sure is exciting in Athens. In his second year on the job, Kirby Smart helped oversee the nation's No. 4 defense and led Georgia to the CFP. If you like sideline-to-sideline defense and bone-rattling hits just about every play, the Bulldogs are the team for you. Offensively, Georgia is mostly blah, mainly because freshman quarterback Jake Fromm averages just 17 passes and 167 yards per game. But I dare you to find a prettier back shoulder pass in America! Those two NFL backs, Sony Michel and Nick Chubb, sure are fun to watch, but this decision really comes down to the fact that this pack of ravenous defensive Dawgs is no joke, giving Georgia that old-school excitement.

9. Arizona (18.4 points)

(Preseason Rank: NR)

In a year in which we all thought coach Rich Rodriguez might not survive, his career and the program were revitalized by your favorite side dish: Tater Tot. Unlike with Georgia, there isn't much defense to speak of in Tucson, but oh my goodness is quarterback Khalil Tate fun to watch. After entering the season as the backup QB, Tate was fifth in the Pac-12 with 1,353 rushing yards in only 10 games this season. He averaged a nation-leading 10.2 yards per carry and had 12 touchdowns. Tate was one of the most exciting players to watch this season, slashing and dashing his way through overwhelmed defenses for 20 runs of 20-plus yards, including 10 going for touchdowns. Tate actually ran for more yards than he threw (1,289), yet he led the nation with a total QBR of 94.1.

8. Auburn (19 points)

(Preseason Rank: NR)

These Tigers didn't really pique our interest until late in the season. And it wasn't just because Kerryon Johnson and Jarrett Stidham became the SEC's version of Batman and Robin. No, things got exciting because of all that sweet, Southern drama. At one point, Gus Malzahn was out the door after blowing a 20-0 lead in an embarrassing loss to LSU. Then Malzahn went out and beat No. 1 Georgia and No. 1 Alabama in a span of three weeks to get within a game of the CFP. Malzahn was king of the South, and Johnson, injured shoulder and all, was getting a little Heisman love. Of course, the Tigers were throttled by Georgia in the SEC title game and are now going back to Atlanta for the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. But before Auburn was even set on a bowl game, rumors began to fly about Malzahn possibly leaving Auburn for Arkansas. Of course, Auburn backed the money truck up to Malzahn's door to keep him and continue this roller-coaster relationship.

7. Miami (19.6 points)

(Preseason Rank: NR)

We couldn't get enough of the Canes for most of the season. First, they were the Cardiac Canes, winning four straight by eight points or fewer. That was followed by consecutive wins over then-No. 13 Virginia Tech and then-No. 3 Notre Dame by a combined scored of 69-18. Oh, and then there was that beautiful, golden Turnover Chain. The way it glistened around players' necks with such presence was an awesome sight for college football enthusiasts. The way other programs attempted to replicate the Canes' new gimmick was pretty cute, too. Miami's on-field excitement faded during back-to-back losses to Pittsburgh and Clemson, but the Turnover Chain lives on with no equal.

6. Penn State (20.1 points)

(Preseason Rank: 4)

For the second straight season, the Nittany Lions were in the conversation for the playoff for most of the season. However, back-to-back losses to Ohio State and Michigan State kept them out (again). Still, who didn't like watching running back Saquon Barkley score just about every single way this season during his early season Heisman run? Who didn't like watching quarterback Trace McSorley, whose gritty style Urban Meyer compared to Tim Tebow? And it's always a treat to watch James Franklin sprint to his players to make sure they shake hands with their opponents after a loss. A Penn State White Out is unlike anything else you'll see in college football. Nittany Lions fans will miss the playcalling of offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead, who left to become head coach at Mississippi State.

5. Oklahoma State (21 points)

(Preseason Rank: 1)

The Cowboys were at the top of the list in our original rankings. They had arguably the best quarterback-receiver duo, in Mason Rudolph and James Washington, and, oh, that beautiful flowing hair! Mike Gundy's mullet delivered every single week, but a 62-52 loss to Oklahoma in a thrilling game knocked the Pokes out of the playoff picture in early November. But let's consider that that game still featured 114 points, 1,446 yards and 62 first downs. Oklahoma State averaged 41 points in its three losses. And right when we thought we were done hearing about Gundy until bowl season, he went and got himself paid after talking to Tennessee about its (still) open head-coaching gig before deciding to stay in Stillwater. Well played, sir.

4. UCF (21.7 points)

(Preseason Rank: NR)

The worst kept secret in college football was that Scott Frost was going to leave UCF to coach Nebraska after leading the Knights to an American Athletic Conference championship with a 13-0 season and the nation's best offense. UCF scored 80 touchdowns and averaged 49.4 points per game, both of which led the country. The lowest number of points UCF scored in a game this season was 31 (twice), and somehow, the Knights were able to run elements of just about every single offense imaginable when they had the ball. How did the Knights send their coach off? Crowd-surfing in the locker room following their 62-55 double-overtime win over Memphis in the conference championship game.

3. Florida Atlantic (22 points)

(Preseason Rank: NR)

Where do we even begin with Lane Kiffin? How about the literal Lane Train that rolls through FAU's campus? What about Kiffin's hilarious, petty, creative, witty, trolling Twitter account? Should we start with his constantly poking former boss Nick Saban with jokes about rat poison and an image of Saban wearing ripped jeans? Maybe we should just start with the fact that the Owls went from 3-9 before Kiffin to 10-3 with the Conference USA title. That was after a 1-3 start with blowout losses to Navy and Wisconsin. FAU was undefeated in conference play with a top-15 offense (491.9 ypg) and the No. 9 scoring offense (39.8 ppg). FAU was so good this season that message boards and Twitter threw Kiffin into every coaching search, and he promptly trolled all those fan bases ... especially old employer Tennessee.

2. Clemson (22.5 points)

(Preseason Rank: 3)

You have dancing Dabo and a Deshaun Watson look-alike in Kelly Bryant. The team that was supposed to struggle to find its way with Bryant replacing Watson has looked almost as good as the team that won it all last season. Clemson went from beating five of its first six opponents by at least 14 points to losing to Syracuse and then outscoring its next six opponents 226-71. Clemson's defensive front seven is the nation's most exciting defensive unit to watch. Of the Tigers' 104 tackles for loss, 89.5 came from linemen or linebackers. Clelin Ferrell, Austin Bryant and Dorian O'Daniel recorded 42 of those, while Christian Wilkins is one of the game's most terrifying and disruptive players.

1. Oklahoma (23.1 points)

(Preseason Rank: 7)

Baker Mayfield is exciting, maddening and magical. The Heisman finalist -- and overwhelming favorite -- is a tornado wrapped in a hurricane stuck in a broom closet. He's just about the best quarterback in the country in most of the important statistical categories, and he has led the Sooners to the CFP with a rookie head coach in Lincoln Riley and essentially a brand-new receiving corps. Mayfield has also had his inglorious moments, such as when he grabbed his crotch while yelling toward the Kansas sideline during a lopsided win. As far as the pieces around him, Oklahoma scored fewer than 31 points just once this season and hit 50-plus points four times. Defensively, it's always an adventure.