Bowl Selection, College Playoff Games Announced
It's official: OU is headed to the Sugar Bowl to play Auburn in the Big Easy.
The other New Year's Six match ups are: Michigan against Florida State in the Orange Bowl, Penn State against USC in the Rose Bowl and Western Michigan against Wisconsin in the Cotton Bowl.
The Orange Bowl is Dec. 30. The Rose, Cotton and Sugar bowls are all Jan. 2.
The OSU Cowboys are headed to the Alamo Bowl where they will face Colorado.
The University of Tulsa will go to the Miami Beach Bowl to play Central Michigan. That's at 1:30 p.m. CT on Monday, December 19.
Also announced are the kickoff times for the College Football Playoff semifinals on Dec. 31: Alabama plays Washington at 3 p.m. Eastern, and Clemson and Ohio State start at 7 p.m. Eastern.
It's Alabama's stingy defense versus Washington's high-scoring offense in the Peach Bowl December 31, one of the two College Football Playoff national semifinals this season.
The Crimson Tide plays its second straight game in the Georgia Dome. The nation's top defense faces an offense led by Jake Browning, who has thrown for 42 touchdowns against just seven interceptions.
Alabama, by contrast, has allowed just 14 total touchdowns, including three on the ground. The Tide is bidding to become the third wire-to-wire No. 1 team in the AP poll while the No. 4 Huskies worked their way up from a No. 14 preseason ranking.
Alabama offensive analyst Steve Sarkisian was the Huskies head coach from 2009-13, and Tide co-defensive coordinator Tosh Lupoi is a former Washington assistant as well.
The other semifinal is No. 2 Clemson against No. 3 Ohio State at the Fiesta Bowl, also December 31. The Tigers (12-1) were No. 3 in the next-to-last College Football Playoff rankings and leapfrogged the Buckeyes after beating No. 18 Virginia Tech 42-35 in the ACC championship game.
Clemson finished No. 3 in the AP Top 25, a spot behind Ohio State (11-1). Led by dynamic quarterback Deshaun Watson, Clemson lost to Alabama in the national championship game last season.
Ohio State lost to Penn State on Oct. 22, but closed the season with a double-overtime victory over then-No. 3 Michigan. The Nittany Lions rallied from 21 points down to beat No. 5 Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship.
Alabama is the only team to be in all three editions of the CFP so far. Ohio State and Clemson are in for the second time, and Washington is a first-timer in the four-team field.
Penn State finished No. 5 and is headed to the Rose Bowl. Michigan was No. 6, likely now bound for the Orange Bowl.
College Football Playoff committee chairman Kirby Hocutt says "it was a challenging conversation" that led Washington to get the final spot in the semifinals over Penn State.
Hocutt, speaking on the ESPN selection show, says the committee simply decided that Washington got the No. 4 seed over the Big Ten champion Nittany Lions because "the selection committee believes they're a better football team."
Hocutt acknowledged there was some concern over the strength of Washington's schedule, but said that the Huskies' quality wins were enough to remove any doubt. He also said the mission of the committee was to identify the best teams, and that winning a conference title -- as Penn State did -- is just one of many things to consider.
Alabama is going to chase more than a national championship in the College Football Playoff. The Crimson Tide may do something no team has managed to do since the 19th century.
The 15-win watch is back.
No NCAA team has won 15 games in a season. But it has happened in college football before the NCAA was formed in the 1930s -- Yale won 15 games in 1889 and a record 16 games in 1894. The other school listed in the NCAA record book as winning 15 games in a season was Penn, in 1892 and 1897.
Alabama (13-0) would get that elusive 15th win by successfully defending its national championship.
Clemson entered last year's playoff bidding for 15-0, and had a chance to finish with that record -- but lost the title game to the Crimson Tide.
Tide coach Nick Saban has only finished undefeated once in his storied coaching career. That was in 2009 when Alabama went 14-0 and won the first of his four national titles at the school.