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College Football Playoff teams set; semifinal winners to meet in South Florida

Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Notre Dame top 4 teams in final playoff rankings
Clemson Tigers vs. Alabama Crimson Tide in 2019 College Football Playoff National Championship
Posted at 12:41 PM, Dec 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-20 13:58:38-05

The College Football Playoff is set.

Alabama (11-0), Clemson (10-1), Ohio State (6-0) and Notre Dame (10-1) are the top four teams in the final College Football Playoff rankings released Sunday and will compete for a national championship.

Each of the top four teams have been ranked among the top four through each of the playoff rankings this season.

Clemson and Ohio State will meet in the semifinal at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. It will be a rematch of last season's semifinal at the Fiesta Bowl, which the Tigers won 29-23.

Clemson Tigers running back Travis Etienne runs vs. Ohio State Buckeyes in semifinal at Fiesta Bowl
Clemson running back Travis Etienne runs during the first half of the semifinal at the Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State, Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019, in Glendale, Ariz.

Alabama and Notre Dame will play in the semifinal at the Rose Bowl. The Crimson Tide last played the Fighting Irish in the 2013 Bowl Championship Series National Championship game in South Florida, winning 42-14.

The Rose Bowl, which is usually played in Pasadena, California, was moved to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, because of rising coronavirus cases in Southern California.

Typically, the top-ranked team in the playoff has regional preference, but College Football Playoff selection committee chair Gary Barta said the decision was made to place Alabama in the Rose Bowl instead of the Sugar Bowl so that more fans could attend.

"We know that there's going to be 16,000 fans able to watch in Arlington and we know that there's going to be 3,000 fans that are going to be able to be watching the game in New Orleans, so the committee decided that the advantage was for the No. 1 team to have more fans able to watch them play," Barta told ESPN during its selection show.

Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish in 2013 BCS National Championship
Alabama offensive linesman Barrett Jones (75) prepares to snap the ball against Notre Dame during the first half of the BCS National Championship, Jan. 7, 2013, in Miami Gardens, Fla.

The winners of the semifinals will advance to the College Football Playoff National Championship at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.

No. 5 Texas A&M (8-1) and No. 6 Oklahoma (8-2) just missed out. Both the Aggies and Sooners have won seven consecutive games.

The Sooners jumped to sixth after defeating Iowa State to win the Big 12 Conference championship.

Texas A&M's lone loss was to Alabama, but the Aggies didn't win the Southeastern Conference Western Division and are now likely bound for the Orange Bowl.

If the top two teams win the semifinals, it will mark the fourth time that Alabama and Clemson will have met in the playoff era, including three national championship appearances.

Clemson is 2-1 against Alabama in the title game. The Tigers last defeated Alabama 44-16 to win the 2018 national championship.

The Crimson Tide and Tigers are tied for the most playoff appearances at five each.

Cincinnati (9-0), which finished undefeated after beating Tulsa to win the American Athletic Conference, is expected to be the top Group of Five team. No Group of Five team has ever made the playoff.