Clemson and Alabama will meet in the College Football Playoffs semifinals on Jan. 1 in Allstate Sugar Bowl, giving New Orleans a rematch of the national championship games of the past two years.
Oklahoma will face Georgia in the Rose Bose in the other semifinal. The two winners will meet in Atlanta on Jan. 8 for college football’s national championship.
Alabama (11-1) which was ranked No. 1 before losing its regular-season finale at Auburn, 26-14. edged out Ohio State for the No. 4 seed in the playoffs, giving the Southeastern Conference in the CFP for the first time and also shutting out the Big Ten from the playoffs.
Ohio State (11-2) won the Big Ten championship game against previously unbeaten Wisconsin, 27-21, on Saturday. But the Buckeyes’ losses to Oklahoma and Iowa worked against them.
CFP committee chairman Kirby Hocutt said Ohio State’s 31-point loss could not be overlooked and that to the committee, Alabama was the better team.
“The selection committee favored Alabama’s whole body of work,” he said. “Alabama has been consistent week-in and week-out over the entire season.
“Ohio State’s wins were impressive, but it wasn’t enough to place them over Alabama.”
While the Alabama-Ohio State debate dominated the playoff discussion on Saturday and into Sunday, Clemson (12-1) was wrapping up the No. 1 seed with a 38-3 rout of Miami in the ACC Championship game.
Oklahoma (12-1) which defeated TCU, 41-17 for the Big 12 championship is the No. 2 seed and Georgia’s 28-7 victory against Auburn in the SEC title game earned the Bulldogs the No. 3 seed and their first CFP berth.
Alabama defeated Clemson, 35-31 for the 2015 national title while the Tigers won last year’s game, 45-40, on a last-second touchdown.
This will be Alabama’s 16th Sugar Bowl appearance. The Tide has lost its last three Sugar Bowls, however, to Utah in 2009, Oklahoma in 2014 and to Ohio State in the 2015 CFP semifinals.
Clemson has been in only one previous Sugar Bowl – a 7-0 loss to LSU in the 1959 game after LSU has already been declared the national champion.