Alabama-Washington, Clemson-Ohio State set for playoff semis

504326756-0Alabama, Clemson and Washington all took care of business this weekend, while Ohio State waited at home.

In the end, the top four teams entering the conference championship games were given berths in the College Football Playoff.

The No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide will face the No. 4 Washington Huskies in the Chick-Fil-a Peach Bowl and the No. 2 Clemson Tigers will play the No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl on Dec. 31, as announced Sunday by the CFP selection committee.

There was some controversy after tis weekend’s conference championship results with Penn State won the Big Ten championship missed the cut despite its 38-31 victory over Wisconsin on Saturday and a victory over Ohio State earlier in the season.

One way to look at it is that all four of the playoff teams have one loss but Penn State has two. The Nittany Lions, winners of nine straight games, wound up fifth in the rankings, while Michigan was No. 6.

CFP committee chairman Kirby Hocutt said “it was a challenging conversation” that led Washington to get the final spot in the semifinals over Penn State.

Speaking on the ESPN selection show, Hocutt said the committee chose the Huskies for the No. 4 seed over the Nittany Lions because “the selection committee believes they’re a better football team.”

Hocutt acknowledged there was some concern over the strength of Washington’s schedule, but he said the Huskies’ quality wins were enough to remove any doubt. He also said the mission of the committee was to identify the best teams, and that winning a conference title — as Penn State did — is just one of many things to consider.

The Huskies’ only loss was to USC; their nonconference schedule featured Rutgers, Idaho and FCS squad Portland State. Penn State played Pitt, Temple and Kent State, and they lost to Pitt. The Nittany Lions also were beaten by 39 at Michigan in their last loss.

“You can make arguments for and against so many teams,” Penn State coach James Franklin said on ESPN, adding that his team was appreciative of the Rose Bowl bid it will receive.

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