Alabama, Clem­son head Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off

Tide face Huskies; Tigers meet Ohio St.

The Washington Times Daily - - 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 play for the na­tional cham­pi­onship.

Alabama will face Wash­ing­ton in one semi­fi­nal and Clem­son meets Ohio State in the other. None of them were 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 pretty 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 3 p.m. ET.

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, Ari­zona, on Dec. 31. Kick­off is set for 7 p.m. ET.

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 played 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 the con­fer­ence and lost to the Pan­thers. The Nit­tany Li­ons also were beaten by 39 at Michi­gan in their last loss.

Penn State fin­ished the sea­son on a nine-game win­ning streak to make a strong clos­ing state­ment.

“Had Wash­ing­ton had a stronger strength of sched­ule I do not think that con­ver­sa­tion would have been as dif­fi­cult,” said Ho­cutt, who is also the Texas Tech ath­letic di­rec­tor.

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 on ESPN, ad­ding his team was ap­pre­cia­tive of the Rose Bowl bid it will re­ceive.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Fresh­man quar­ter­back Jalen Hurts and coach Nick Sa­ban lead top-ranked Alabama to the Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off where they will face Wash­ing­ton in one semi­fi­nal.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Wash­ing­ton sealed its spot in the Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off semi­fi­nal against top-ranked Alabama af­ter win­ning the Pac-10 Cham­pi­onship on Satur­day. Wash­ing­ton’s last na­tional ti­tle came in 1991.

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