The College Football Playoff rankings were released Sunday afternoon and as expected, Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Washington were selected as the top four teams in the country.
No. 1 Alabama will face No. 4 Washington in a semifinal at 3 p.m. on Dec. 31 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, while No. 2 Clemson and No. 3 Ohio State will meet at 7 p.m. on Dec. 31 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.
Clemson’s 2015-16 season ended in Glendale as the Crimson Tide knocked off Clemson 45-40 in the national championship game. The Tigers are hoping to come out on top at University of Phoenix Stadium this time around as they attempt to win their first national title since 1981.
“Last year we went into the playoff No. 1 and we finished No. 2,” Tigers coach Dabo Swinney told fans at Littlejohn Coliseum on Sunday. “This year our goal is to go in No. 2 and finish No. 1.”
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For the second consecutive year, Clemson enters the playoff as an underdog, despite being ranked higher than its opponent.
Oklahoma was favored by 3 1/2 points as the No. 4 seed prior to last year’s Orange Bowl, before the top-seeded Tigers earned a blowout win over the Sooners.
This season, the Buckeyes are favored by 3 over Clemson, while Alabama is favored by two touchdowns over the Huskies.
Swinney, who is 4-1 in his past five bowl/national title games, doesn’t view Clemson or Washington as underdogs entering the playoff.
“I hate to tell you, but there are no underdogs in this playoff,” Swinney said. “These are four teams that all could win the national championship, without a doubt. … Somebody may pick a side, but there’s no underdog. These are four great football teams.”
While most analysts felt Clemson would play Ohio State and Washington would face Alabama in the semifinals, there was talk that Penn State or even Michigan could sneak into the final four.
That wasn’t the case, but Swinney said he has sympathy for some of the schools left out.
“There were five or six probably very deserving teams, and they selected these four. That’s all that mattered to me is that we were one of them,” Swinney said. “My heart breaks for a couple of those teams that didn’t have an opportunity. I think it’s four great teams, and four teams that are very capable of winning the national championship. There’s no doubt about it. I’m glad we’re one of them.”
College Football Playoff
Who: Clemson (12-1) vs. Ohio State (11-1)
When: 7 p.m., Dec. 31
Where: Glendale, Ariz.
Who: Washington (12-1) vs Alabama (13-0)
When: 3 p.m. Dec. 31