CFP pairings: Clemson vs. Oklahoma, Michigan St. vs. Alabama
The Associated Press
Top-seeded Clemson will play No. 4 Oklahoma at the Orange Bowl and No. 2 Alabama gets No. 3 Michigan State at the Cotton Bowl in the New Year’s Eve semifinals of the College Football Playoff.
The selection committee revealed the pairings for its second playoff Sunday, a day after the top teams eliminated any controversy about who should be in the final four. The only real debate was the order.
Clemson (13-0) has been No. 1 since the committee began its rankings the first week of November, and committee chairman Jeff Long said that the Tigers were clearly No. 1 in the final rankings. As the top seed, the Tigers get to play as close to home as possible. The Tigers and Sooners (11-1) met in Russell Athletic Bowl last season.
Alabama (12-1) began its season at AT&T Stadium in North Texas against a Big Ten team (Wisconsin) and returns to face another in Michigan State (12-1).
Oklahoma was No. 3 last week after it finished its regular season as the Big 12 champion, but Michigan State’s Big Ten championship game victory over previously unbeaten Iowa pushed the Spartans past the Sooners in the end.
Long said bumping Michigan State past Oklahoma had nothing to do with avoiding the possibility of having the Sooners play close to home in in the Dallas area.
The starting times for the college football playoff games are set, according to ESPN. No. 1 Clemson vs. No. 4 Oklahoma starts at 4 p.m. on Dec. 31 in the Orange Bowl; and No. 2 Alabama vs. No. 3 Michigan State starts at 8 p.m. on Dec. 31 in the Cotton Bowl.
In the Big 6 bowl matchups are:
As expected, it will be Iowa vs. Stanford in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, featuring the Big Ten Conference runner-up against the Pac 12-champion Cardinal and their Heisman contender Christian McCaffrey.
Also on Jan. 1, the Sugar Bowl will match Mississippi against Oklahoma State and the Fiesta Bowl has Notre Dame against Ohio State.
On Dec. 31, the Peach Bowl pits AAC champion Houston against Florida State.
The Fiesta Bowl gets another marquee matchup.
The New Year’s Day bowl will feature two teams in the college football playoff mix until late in the season.
The defending champion Buckeyes (11-1) lost their only game to Michigan State and needed help to get into college football’s final four. They didn’t get it and wind up No. 7 in the final CFP ranking.
Notre Dame (10-2) fought through a slew of injuries to finish four points shy of a perfect record. The Fighting Irish are No. 8 in the final rankings.
MIAMI BEACH BOWL: Western Kentucky and South Florida are heading to the Miami Beach Bowl on Dec. 21.
Western Kentucky (11-2) won the Conference USA title and features quarterback Brandon Doughty, who leads the nation with 45 touchdown passes this season.
South Florida (8-4) finished on a four-game winning streak, and has a chance for its first nine-win season since 2007. USF has won the last four meetings between the schools, the last of those coming in 2010.
The game is played at Marlins Park — about a 15-minute drive from Miami Beach. Last season, the bowl debuted with Memphis topping BYU 55-48.
(Subject to Change)
All Times EST
Saturday, Dec. 19
NC A&T (9-2) vs. Alcorn State (9-3), Noon
New Mexico Bowl
Arizona (6-6) vs. New Mexico (7-5), 2 p.m. (ESPN)
Las Vegas Bowl
BYU (9-3) vs. Utah (9-3), 3:30 p.m. (ABC) Camelia Bowl
Ohio (8-4) vs. Appalachian State (9-2), 5:30 p.m. (ESPN)
San Jose State (5-7) vs. Georgia State (6-6), 7 p.m. (CBSSN)
New Orleans Bowl
Louisiana Tech (8-4) vs. Arkansas State (8-3), 9 p.m. (ESPN)
Monday, Dec. 21
Miami Beach Bowl
South Florida (8-4) vs. Western Kentucky (11-2), 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Tuesday, Dec. 22
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Akron (7-5) vs. Utah State (6-6), 3:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Boca Raton (Fla.) Bowl
Temple (10-3) vs. Toledo (9-2), 7 p.m. (ESPN)
Wednesday, Dec. 23
Northern Illinois (8-5) vs. Boise State (8-4), 4:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Bowling Green (10-3) vs. Georgia Southern (8-3), 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Thursday, Dec. 24
Middle Tennessee (7-5) vs. Western Michigan (7-5), Noon (ESPN)
Cincinnati (7-5) vs. San Diego State (10-3), 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Saturday, Dec. 26
St. Petersburg (Fla.) Bowl
Marshall (9-3) vs. UConn (6-6), 11 a.m. (ESPN)
El Paso, Texas
Miami (8-4) vs. Washington State (8-4), 2 p.m. (CBS)
Heart of Dallas Bowl
Washington (6-6) vs. Southern Mississippi (9-4), 3:20 p.m. (ESPN)
Duke (7-5) vs. Indiana (6-6), 3:30 p.m. (ABC)
Virginia Tech (6-6) vs. Tulsa (6-6), 5:45 p.m. (ESPN)
Foster Farms Bowl
Santa Clara, Calif.
Nebraska (5-7) vs. UCLA (8-4), 9:15 p.m. (ESPN)
Monday, Dec. 28
Navy (9-2) vs. Pittsburgh (8-4), 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Quick Lane Bowl
Central Michigan (7-5) vs. Minnesota (5-7), 5 p.m. (ESPN2)
Tuesday, Dec. 29
Armed Forces Bowl
Fort Worth, Texas
Air Force (8-5) vs. California (7-5), 2 p.m. (ESPN)
Russell Athletic Bowl
North Carolina (11-2) vs. Baylor (9-3), 5:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Nevada (6-6) vs. Colorado State (7-5), 7:30 p.m. (TBA)
Texas Tech (7-5) vs. LSU (8-3), 9 p.m. (ESPN)
Wednesday, Dec. 30
Birmingham (Ala.) Bowl
Auburn (6-6) vs. Memphis (9-3), Noon (ESPN)
NC State (7-5) vs. Mississippi St. (8-4), 3:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Music City Bowl
Louisville (7-5) vs. Texas A&M (8-4), 7 p.m. (ESPN)
Wisconsin (9-3) vs. Southern Cal (8-5), 10:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Thursday, Dec. 31
Houston (12-1) vs. Florida State (10-2), Noon (ESPN)
Miami Gardens, Fla.
Clemson (13-0) vs. Oklahoma (11-1), 4 p.m. (ESPN)
Cotton Bowl Classic
Alabama (12-1) vs. Michigan State (12-1), 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Friday, Jan. 1
Northwestern (10-2) vs. Tennessee (8-4), Noon (ESPN2)
Michigan (9-3) vs. Florida (10-3), 1 p.m. (ABC)
Notre Dame (10-2) vs. Ohio State (11-1), 1 p.m. (ESPN)
Iowa (12-1) vs. Stanford (11-2), 5 p.m. (ESPN)
Oklahoma State (10-2) vs. Mississippi (9-3), 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Saturday, Jan. 2
Penn St. (7-5) vs. Georgia (9-3), Noon (ESPN)
Kansas St. (6-6) vs. Arkansas (7-5), 3:20 p.m. (ESPN)
Oregon (9-3) vs. TCU (10-2), 6:45 p.m. (ESPN)
West Virginia (7-5) vs. Arizona State (6-6), 10:15 p.m. (ESPN)
Monday, Jan. 11
College Football Championship
Orange Bowl winner vs. Cotton Bowl winner, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Saturday, Jan. 23
East-West Shrine Classic
At St. Petersburg, Fla.
East vs. West, 4 p.m. (NFLN)
NFLPA Collegiate Bowl
At Carson, Calif.
National vs. American, 6 p.m. (ESPN2)
Saturday, Jan. 30
At Mobile, Ala.
North vs. South, 2:30 p.m. (NFLN)