After the most contentious selection process in the three-year history of the college football playoff, the semifinal matchups are set. After this weekend’s conference championship games, the top four remains unchanged from last week’s edition.
In the playoff are Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson and Washington, with fifth-ranked Penn State and sixth-ranked Michigan on the outside looking in.
After Penn State won the Big Ten Championship, they appeared to have a strong case to be included over Washington or perhaps even Ohio State, if the committee placed high value in winning a conference championship. After the win last night, Penn State coach James Franklin gave an impassioned case for the Nittany Lions inclusion in an exchange with Fox Sports’s Joel Klatt.
Klatt: You’ve got nine straight wins, the 13th data point as they say, you’re an East Division champion, and the Big Ten conference champion after handling Wisconsin. Do you deserve a spot in the College Football Playoff?
Franklin: Could you rattle those things off again?
Klatt: [repeats accolades]
Franklin: What I do know is we just won the toughest conference in college football. We won nine straight. They say you’re allowed to overcome early setbacks, we’ve done that. It’s on you now, the committee.
But ultimately, the Nittany Lions 2 early-season losses- including a blowout loss to Michigan- made them the odd team out when compared to the one-loss Ohio State and Washington squads.
Alabama, the undefeated juggernaut, earned the top seed as expected after routing Florida in the SEC Championship game. They’ll face Number 4 Washington- who emphatically beat Colorado in the Pac-12 Championship game- in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl in the semifinal. The Huskies are the only team of the four making their first appearance in the college football playoff.
Ohio State, who were idle this weekend due to Penn State winning the Big Ten East due to the head-to-head tiebreaker, are the #2 seed. They’ll take on #3 Clemson, who defeated Virginia Tech in the ACC championship game to cement their spot, in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl in the semifinal.
Both semifinal games will take place on New Year’s Eve, with the winners set to square off in the National Championship on January 9th.