Alabama-Wash­ing­ton and Ohio State-Clem­son

Penn State, which won the Big Ten, is the first team left out.

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Ralph D. Russo

In the end, true chaos never came to col­lege foot­ball this sea­son. Four teams that started near the top of the Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off rank­ings will com­pete for the na­tional cham­pi­onship.

Alabama will face Wash­ing­ton in one semi­fi­nal, and Clem­son meets Ohio State in the other. None of them was ranked any lower than sixth since the se­lec­tion com­mit­tee started rank­ing teams in early Novem­ber.

Even af­ter a wild fin­ish to cham­pi­onship Satur­day, se­lec­tion Sun­day went much as ex­pected.

The com­mit­tee stayed with the same top four it picked go­ing into cham­pi­onship week­end, leav­ing out No. 5 Penn State even though the Nit­tany Lions won the Big Ten ti­tle game and beat Ohio State ear­lier in the sea­son.

The Buck­eyes (11-1) are the first team to reach the play­off in its three-year his­tory with­out win­ning their con­fer­ence.

The un­beaten Crim­son Tide (13-0) is in the play­off for the third straight sea­son and is the top seed for the se­cond time. They will play the fourth-ranked Huskies (12-1) in the Peach Bowl in At­lanta on Dec. 31. Kick­off is set for 1 p.m. Moun­tain time.

Alabama has played Wash­ing­ton four times pre­vi­ously, twice in bowls and not since 1986. Huskies fans were hold­ing up signs at games late in the sea­son, pro­claim­ing “We want Bama.”

“Some­times you got to be care­ful what you wish for,” Wash­ing­ton coach Chris Petersen said on ESPN. “I didn’t hold up that sign.”

Sa­ban and Alabama will be try­ing to win their fifth na­tional cham­pi­onship in eight sea­sons, and se­cond straight.

Wash­ing­ton’s last na­tional ti­tle came in 1991, when the Huskies were No. 1 in the fi­nal coaches poll.

Petersen, the for­mer Boise State coach in his third sea­son with Wash­ing­ton, has never faced Sa­ban and said he does not know him well.

“I feel like I know him, I see him on TV so much,” Petersen said.

No. 3 Ohio State is mak­ing its se­cond play­off ap­pear­ance and No. 2 Clem­son (12-1) is in for the se­cond con­sec­u­tive sea­son. The Buck­eyes and Tigers will meet at the Fi­esta Bowl in Glen­dale, Ariz., on Dec. 31. Kick­off is set for 5 p.m Moun­tain.

Ohio State won the first Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off af­ter the 2014 sea­son and Clem­son lost to Alabama in last sea­son’s cham­pi­onship game.

Ohio State and Clem­son have met twice be­fore, both in bowl games. The last time was af­ter the 2013 sea­son.

The one dif­fer­ence from last week’s top four and the fi­nal one was Clem­son and Ohio State switched spots. So the Tigers will wear the home jer­seys in Univer­sity of Phoenix sta­dium in­stead of the Buck­eyes.

Se­lec­tion com­mit­tee chair­man Kirby Ho­cutt said the de­ci­sion came down not to Penn State and Ohio State, but the Nit­tany Lions (11-2) and Pac-12 cham­pion Wash­ing­ton.

The Huskies’ only loss was to South­ern Cal­i­for­nia and its non­con­fer­ence sched­ule fea­tured FCS Port­land State, Rut­gers and Idaho. Penn State played Pitt, Tem­ple and Kent State in non­con­fer­ence and lost to the Pan­thers. The Nit­tany Lions also were beaten by 39 at Michi­gan in their last loss.

The se­lec­tion pro­to­col does not re­quire the com­mit­tee to pick con­fer­ence cham­pi­ons or the win­ner of head-to-head matchups.

“You can make ar­gu­ments for and against so many teams,” Penn State coach James Franklin said.

Alabama wide re­ceiver ArDar­ius Ste­wart is tack­led by Florida de­fen­sive line­man Jachai Po­lite (99) and line­backer Daniel McMil­lian dur­ing the South­east­ern Con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship game Satur­day in At­lanta. John Bazemore, The As­so­ci­ated Press

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