Playoff pairings: LSU vs. Oklahoma; Ohio State vs. Clemson

Clemson

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) runs against Virginia during the first half of the Atlantic Coast Conference championship NCAA college football game in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)

LSU will play Oklahoma and Ohio State will face defending national champion Clemson in the College Football Playoff.

The selection committee revealed the pairings Sunday for the national semifinals and the final four was no surprise. The only mystery involved which team would be the No. 1 seed. The 13-member committee went with Southeastern Conference champion LSU. The top-seeded Tigers (13-0) will head back to Atlanta for its playoff game to face the Big 12 champion Sooners (12-1) in the Peach Bowl on Dec. 28.

LSU used a convincing victory against Georgia at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday to move up to No. 1 Sunday. Ohio State had been No. 1 last week in the committee’s rankings, but the slipped to No. 2 after coming from behind against Wisconsin to win the Big Ten title on Saturday night.

The Buckeyes (13-0) will face third-seeded, Atlantic Coast Conference champion Clemson (13-0) in the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Arizona, on Dec. 28. The national championship game is set for Jan. 13 in New Orleans.

The rest pairings for the other New Year’s Six bowls will be set later Sunday when the committee releases its complete top 25.

The final four fell into place with little room for debate thanks to the favorites winning their conference championship games Saturday, and Utah losing the Pac-12 title game Friday to Oregon. The Utes had been No. 5. That left three undefeated Power Five champions, one with one loss, and nobody else with a legit case to claim a spot.

The intrigue was about the top-seed, knowing Clemson was likely locked into No. 3. The Tigers have been mauling their opponents for the last two months, but the ACC has not provided Clemson any opportunities to face top-flight competition. The Tigers have won four games against teams ranked in the committee’s second-to-last. Ohio State has five victories against ranked, including Wisconsin twice. Clemson’s only win against those teams was its 62-17 victory Saturday against Virginia.

Still, drawing Clemson, which has the core of a team that has won 28 straight games, rather than an Oklahoma team that has five victories by a touchdown or less certainly seems like a tougher task. Clemson us making its fifth straight playoff appearance, tying Alabama for the most. The Crimson Tide missed out for the first time. Coach Dabo Swinney’s Tigers have won two of the last three championships

LSU is in the playoff for the first time, the only newbie in the field. The Tigers will likely bring the Heisman Trophy winner with them. Quarterback Joe Burrow capped as record-breaking season by throwing four more touchdown passes against Georgia in the SEC championship.

Ohio State is making its third playoff appearance and first since 2016, after being one of the first teams out the last two seasons. The Buckeyes won the first playoff championship in 2014. Their last appearance came after the 2016 season, when they were shut out by Clemson in the semifinals at the Fiesta Bowl.

Oklahoma is in the playoff for the fourth time, but has yet to win a game. This will be the third consecutive year the Sooners face an SEC team.

Full CFP rankings:

  1. LSU
  2. Ohio State
  3. Clemson
  4. Oklahoma
  5. Georgia
  6. Oregon
  7. Baylor
  8. Wisconsin
  9. Florida
  10. Penn State
  11. Utah
  12. Auburn
  13. Alabama
  14. Michigan
  15. Notre Dame
  16. Iowa
  17. Memphis
  18. Minnesota
  19. Boise State
  20. Appalachian State
  21. Cincinnati
  22. Southern California
  23. Navy
  24. Virginia
  25. Oklahoma State

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