Clemson, Alabama, Michigan State and Oklahoma are headed to the College Football Playoff.
The matchups, selected based on rankings by the College Football Playoff committee, were announced on Sunday.
It was less dramatic than it was in last year’s inaugural selection, with the four teams being all but locked in with their conference championships.
Clemson is the lone unbeaten team in the country, following Iowa’s loss to Michigan State in Saturday’s Big Ten championship game. Combine that with some quality wins, including Notre Dame in October, Florida State in November and North Carolina on Saturday, and the Tigers earned the top spot without much debate.
“Clemson is clearly the No. 1 team in the nation,” committee chair Jeff Long said on ESPN’s selection show.
They will be matched up with Oklahoma in a rare rematch of a bowl game from a year ago. The Tigers crushed the Sooners 40-6 in 2014’s Russell Athletic Bowl, but this Oklahoma team bears little resemblance to that one. After a shocking loss to Texas on Oct. 10, Bob Stoops’ squad has had look of a championship contender. They have averaged 52 points per game since then, including consecutive victories against Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma State to claim the Big 12 regular season championship.
A year ago, the Big 12 was left out of the playoff due to the lack of a conference championship. That wasn’t as much of a worry this season, especially with Pac-12 winner Stanford having two losses.
|No. 1 Clemson
|No. 4 Oklahoma
Big 12 champion
On the other side of the bracket will be Alabama and Michigan State, who have only met once in their history, a 49-7 win for the Tide in 2011. They will face off in the Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium, a venue familiar to both teams. Alabama started this season in the same building, when it took down Wisconsin 35-17, and the Spartans won last season’s Cotton Bowl against Baylor 42-41.
Both teams come in at 12-1 after winning their conference championship games on Saturday. Alabama dominated Florida behind another big game from Derrick Henry, while Michigan State’s 16-13 win vs. Iowa was a bit more dramatic, as the Spartans scored to take the lead with 33 seconds left. Still, the championship was enough to vault them past Oklahoma for the No. 3 seed.
|No. 2 Alabama
|No. 3 Michigan State
Big Ten champion
The semifinal games will be on Dec. 31, and the winners will meet in the national championship game on Jan. 11 in Glendale, Arizona. Ohio State took home last year's trophy as the No. 4 seed after beating Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and Oregon in the CFP championship game.