Alabama was the last team in the college football playoffs but oddsmakers have made them a 2-1 favorite to win the national championship on Jan. 8 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
The two semifinal games will be held at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena and the Superdome in New Orleans on New Year’s Day. Clemson is next at 9-4 and Georgia and Oklahoma are 7-2 picks.
The Crimson Tide will face No. 1 Clemson in a rematch of last year’s championship game, which Clemson won., 35-31. No. 2 Oklahoma will play No. 3 Georgia in Pasadena.
With Alabama and Georgia in the CFP it will be the first time two SEC teams are among the four teams. Alabama has made the playoffs every year since its inception in 2014. This also marks the first year that a Big 10 or a Pac 12 school has not been included.
Wisconsin was No. 4, but got bounced when it lost to Ohio State on Saturday in the Big 10 Conference Championship.
Controversy Surrounds Final Pick
Some thought that the Buckeyes should have been selected fourth instead of Alabama, but the committee pointed to Ohio State’s 31-point loss to Iowa earlier in the year.
“Alabama was clearly the No. 4 team,” selection committee chairman Kirby Hocutt said. “The conclusion was widespread and strong. It was unequivocal. As we looked at Alabama’s full body of work over the course of the season, we favored that body of work over Ohio State.”
OSU Coach Urban Meyer seemed resigned to the decision, telling ESPN that respected the decision.
“We had a job to do in Indianapolis, and we did it,” he said. “The College Football Playoff committee had a job to do, and they did it. We respect it, move forward, keep swinging and the most important thing is to go win this next game for our seniors.”
His team will face USC in the Cotton Bowl on Dec. 29 at the home of the Dallas Cowboys, AT&T Stadium. The Trojans won the Pac 12 Conference Championship, defeating Stanford on Friday, 31-28. The Buckeyes are a 6 ½-point favorite.
The Alabama-Clemson semifinal will be the second of the semifinal games and it will be the third consecutive year the two programs have met in the CFP. The Crimson Tide are anywhere from a 1-point to 2-point pick to defeat the Tigers.
Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney said in a conference call Sunday that the two squads are familiar with each other.
“I think some people don’t want to give you much credit until you beat the very best,” he said. “Alabama is that.” “Any time you play them, you know it’s an ‘Everything you’ve got’ kind of game. But we look forward to it.”
The first semifinal game will be Georgia against Oklahoma. The Sooners are making their second appearance and want to forget the 37-17 drubbing they received from Clemson in 2016. The Bulldogs are making their debut and are the SEC Conference Champion. They are a 1-point underdog to Oklahoma.