The Irish lost 34-10 in the ACC championship on Saturday, but its otherwise strong track record and national following (yes, that counts) gave it the edge.
Notre Dame will face No. 1-ranked Alabama in the Rose Bowl prelims, while No. 2 Clemson will face the Big Ten’s Ohio State, ranked No. 3 in the nation, at the Sugar Bowl. The game is re-match of last years’ Fiesta Bowl and showcases what could be the top two candidates for the NFL draft in Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence and Ohio State’s Justin Fields. Both games are on Jan. 1.
The National Championship takes place January 11 in Miami at Hard Rock Stadium.
“In the end, the committee felt Notre Dame had earned its way there based on the complete analysis of its resume, and that probably came down to having an extra win over a ranked team,” College Football Playoff committee head Gary Barta said on ESPN.
Texas A&M fans were the losers in the choices. They finished ranked fifth, followed by No. 6-ranked and Big 12 champion Oklahoma. Undefeated Cincinnati was an afterthought thanks to its weak schedule.
“The committee decided that Ohio State belonged in the field because they are undefeated, they defeated two ranked teams, including (Saturday) night, and they won the Big Ten championship,” Barta said of the 6-0 Buckeyes. “Certainly, we talked a lot that there would be a difference in games played.”
If Alabama and Clemson prevail in the semifinals as expected, it will be the fourth time the two meet for the title in five years, with the Tigers winning two of the previous three meetings.