The Latest: Familiar teams battling for CFP championship
The Latest from college football’s bowl selection Sunday (all times Eastern):
Parity has become more prevalent in college football over the last few decades, but not at the very top.
Notre Dame is now the 10th team to reach the four-team College Football Playoff in the five years of its existence.
Alabama has played in all five playoffs and Clemson has made four. Oklahoma is in this season for the third time. No other Big 12 team has made it. Ohio State has made the semifinals twice and been close three other times.
If Alabama and Clemson win their semifinals, and they are both double-digit favorites, they would meet in the playoff for a fourth straight season and play for the national title for the third time in four years.
Southern Mississippi, Louisiana-Monroe, Miami (Ohio) and Wyoming are bowl-eligible but they will all be home for the postseason.
The 39 bowl games did not have enough spots to accommodate 82 eligible teams. Teams outside the Power Five conferences ended up getting squeezed out because those leagues have fewer contracts to guarantee bowl bids.
The four teams staying home each had six wins, the minimum needed for eligibility. Southern Miss finished 6-5 after having a regular-season game canceled by severe weather.
Army and BYU, which are both independent programs, ended up in bowl games after some uncertainty. The Black Knights will play Houston in the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, Texas. BYU is going to the Idaho Potato Bowl to face Western Michigan.
Central Florida’s bid for a second straight self-proclaimed national championship goes through the desert.
Snubbed by the College Football Playoff for the second straight season, the seventh-ranked and undefeated Knights will face No. 11 LSU in the Fiesta Bowl on New Year’s Day.
UCF (12-0) also went undefeated last season and proclaimed itself the national champion while the official title went to playoff champion Alabama.
The Knights closed out another undefeated regular season and stretched their unbeaten streak to 25 games with a 56-41 win over Memphis in Saturday’s American Athletic Conference title game. The CFP selection committee tabbed Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame and Oklahoma for this year’s playoff, slotting UCF eighth in Sunday’s final rankings.
LSU (9-3) appeared to be in the CFP playoff hunt until losing to No. 22 Florida in early October. The Tigers knocked off then-No. 2 Georgia, but were blown out by top-ranked Alabama and lost a wild seven-overtime game to No. 21 Texas A&M to close out the regular season.
UCF’s streak includes a Peach Bowl win over another SEC school, Auburn, last season.
Georgia was oh-so-close to knocking off top-ranked Alabama in the Southeastern Conference championship game and earning a spot in the College Football Playoff.
Instead, the Bulldogs will settle for an intriguing matchup against Texas in the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day in New Orleans. It’s the first time the two powerhouse programs have played since the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 2, 1984.
Georgia (11-2, 7-1 SEC) is led by D’Andre Swift and Elijah Holyfield, an impressive tandem of running backs who have combined for nearly 2,000 yards on the ground this season. The Bulldogs’ only two losses were to LSU during the regular season, and the 35-28 loss to the Tide on Saturday.
Texas (9-4, 7-2) enjoyed a breakout regular season and has a chance to win 10 games for the first time since 2009. The Longhorns lost to Oklahoma on Saturday in the Big 12 championship game.
Michigan and Florida will square off for the third time in three years when they meet in the Peach Bowl on Dec. 29 in Atlanta.
For the eighth-ranked Wolverines (10-2, No. 7 CFP), the game is a consolation prize after their College Football Playoff hopes were crushed in a 62-39 loss at Ohio State last weekend.
A berth in a New Year’s Six game is a remarkable accomplishment for Dan Mullen and his 10th-ranked Gators (9-3, No. 10 CFP). Mullen’s first Florida team has won five more games than it did year ago and finished second to Georgia in the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division.
Michigan is 4-0 all-time against the Gators. Their most recent game was the 2017 season opener at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Michigan’s defense limited Florida to 192 yards and three points in a 33-17 win; the Gators’ defense scored two touchdowns.
The teams’ other three meetings were in bowls. Michigan won 41-7 in the 2016 Citrus, 41-35 in the 2008 Capital One and 38-30 in the 2003 Outback.
Ohio State’s consolation prize for missing out on the College Football Playoff is a classic matchup in the Granddaddy of Them All.
The Big Ten champion Buckeyes (12-1) will face Pac-12 champion Washington (10-3) in the 105th edition of the Rose Bowl.
Ohio State finished sixth in the race for four playoff spots after winning the Big Ten title for the third time in five years, trouncing Northwestern 45-24 on Saturday night.
A blowout loss to Purdue in October doomed the Buckeyes, but their second trip to Pasadena in 22 years is a pretty decent finish to an eventful season under coach Urban Meyer.
The Huskies (10-3) are in the Rose Bowl for the first time in 18 years after overcoming a disappointing start to the season with four straight wins in November, including a Pac-12 title game victory over Utah on Friday.
Central Florida athletic director Danny White is unhappy again with the College Football Playoff.
A year ago, he spearheaded UCF’s “national title” push after the Knights finished an unbeaten season and were left out of the four-team playoff.
It’s deja vu all over again for White and the Knights.
Despite a 12-0 record and a 56-41 win over Memphis in Saturday’s American Athletic Conference title game, UCF was on the outside looking in as Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame and Oklahoma advanced to the playoff.
White tweeted that the CFP is “not a playoff. It’s an invitational.”
Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa will have surgery on his right ankle and recovery is expected to take about two weeks.
Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban tells ESPN that Tagovailoa has a high ankle sprain and will have it scoped. He says recovery time for most of his players for this procedure has typically been “a two-week deal.”
Saban is hoping Tagovailoa will be back by the time No. 1 Alabama starts practice for the Orange Bowl semifinal game against No. 4 Oklahoma on Dec. 29.
Tagovailoa hurt his right ankle when an offensive lineman stepped on it in the fourth quarter of the Southeastern Conference championship game against No. 6 Georgia. The Heisman Trophy candidate was helped off the field and didn’t return to the game.
Clemson is making its fourth College Football Playoff appearance with a new bowl experience against a first-timer in the four-team playoff.
The ACC champion Tigers (13-0, No. 2 CFP) will play Notre Dame (12-0, No. 3 CFP) in the Cotton Bowl on Dec. 29 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Notre Dame is the first independent team to make the playoff.
Clemson has never played at the home stadium of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys. The stadium hosted the first national championship game in the CFP era four years ago and a semifinal game three years ago when Alabama beat Michigan State, 38-0.
Notre Dame last played in the Cotton Bowl on New Year’s Day 1994, beating Texas A&M when the game was still in its namesake stadium about 20 miles away in Dallas at the site of the State Fair of Texas. The Irish are 5-2 in Cotton Bowl games. The Tigers last played at the Cotton Bowl in 1940.
The Fighting Irish have played at AT&T Stadium once, beating Arizona State 37-34 in October 2013.
This will be only the fourth meeting between Clemson and Notre Dame, the first in a bowl game. The Irish won the first meeting in 1977, while the Tigers won matchups in 1979 and 2015.
Alabama and Oklahoma are headed to the Orange Bowl, and a semifinal showdown in the College Football Playoff.
The Crimson Tide (13-0) have been the nation’s No. 1 team all season and defeated Georgia on Saturday to win the Southeastern Conference title. The Sooners (12-1) defeated Texas to win the Big 12 title on Saturday.
This is the second time that the Orange Bowl has been the site of a CFP semifinal. Top-seeded Clemson beat fourth-seeded Oklahoma 37-17 in 2015.
The other CFP semifinal this season is at the Cotton Bowl, where second-seeded Clemson will face third-seeded Notre Dame in a battle of unbeatens.
Time to set the field for college football’s final four.
Alabama, Clemson and Notre Dame are unbeaten locks. Oklahoma is hoping its Big 12 title victory can move the Sooners into the fourth and final spot in the College Football Playoff when the rankings are released on Sunday.
The semifinals will be played Dec. 29 in the Cotton Bowl and Orange Bowl. The national championship game is Jan. 7 in Santa Clara, California.
Oklahoma was fifth last week, between No. 4 Georgia and No. 6 Ohio State. After the Sooners beat Texas on Saturday to avenge their only loss, the Bulldogs lost a dramatic Southeastern Conference title game to Alabama and the Buckeyes beat Northwestern for the Big Ten title.
Georgia has two losses and no team has made the playoff yet with more than one.
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