Alabama edged out Ohio State for the final spot in the College Football Playoff field. The Crimson Tide's reward is a playoff rematch against defending national champion Clemson in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans on Jan. 1.
Clemson's inclusion as the top seed in the bracket was expected since the Tigers (12-1) were No. 1 in the previous CFP rankings and then routed Miami 38-3 in the ACC title game on Saturday.
The inclusion of Alabama (11-1) was much more contentious. Fourth-seeded Alabama didn't even win the Southeastern Conference West after losing to Auburn in the final game of the regular season, but was impressive until that loss.
Clemson beat Alabama 35-31 in the national championship game last season. The Tigers have made it back to the CFP with a dominant defense and the emergence of junior quarterback Kelly Bryant.
Alabama is in.
The Crimson Tide got the nod over Ohio State and will play Clemson in the College Football Playoff on Jan. 1 in the Sugar Bowl. Oklahoma and Georgia will meet in the Rose Bowl on the same day.
Tide or Buckeyes was the question facing the selection committee, the toughest call in the four-year history of the playoff.
The Tide had been more consistent and lost just once The Buckeyes lost twice, including an embarrassing 31-point beating to unranked Iowa, but have the more impressive set of victories. Ohio State won the Big Ten while Alabama did not even win its Southeastern Conference division.
The committee rolled with the Tide, and for the first time, the playoff will include two teams from the same conference. Alabama joins SEC champion Georgia and an all-SEC title game is possible.
The Associated Press voters prefer Alabama over Ohio State.
In the final Top 25 of the regular season, the Crimson Tide was No. 4 and the Buckeyes were No. 5. The poll was released about an hour before the College Football Playoff pairings were being revealed. Which team gets the final spot in the final four caused a debate between the Crimson Tide and Buckeyes. In the AP media poll, Alabama received 1,307 points to Ohio State's 1,300.
Clemson finished the regular season No. 1, followed by Oklahoma and Georgia.
Wisconsin was No. 6, followed by Auburn, Southern California, Penn State and UCF. The 10th-ranked Knights are the last unbeaten team in the Football Bowl Subdivision and matched their best ranking ever. UCF finished the 2013 season 10th.
College football has a different type of selection Sunday, a smaller bracket, and dozens of other games that make people argue about how much they matter.
The bowl lineup falls into place with the selection of the teams participating in the College Football Playoff. The playoff selection committee unveils its final four and then sets the matchups for the rest of the major New Year's bowls.
Three of the top four picks are no-brainers: Clemson, Oklahoma, and Georgia. The last spot is likely to come down to Alabama or Ohio State.
After all the New Year's Six bowls are set, including the semifinals, the rest of the bowl lineups come together throughout the day. There are 39 games in all, and 81 teams are eligible this year.
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