Body of work trumps most recent impression.
Notre Dame, less than 24 hours after losing 34-10 to Clemson in the ACC championship game, was selected for the College Football Playoff on Sunday.
The Irish are the fourth seed and will play No. 1 Alabama in a national semifinal Jan. 1 in Arlington Texas. The game was moved from the Rose Bowl because of COVID-19 restrictions in California.
The other semifinal will have No 2 Clemson against No. 3 Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.
Notre Dame finished 10-1 including a victory over Clemson on Nov. 7 when it was ranked No. 1 in the Amway Coaches Poll. The Tigers were without star quarterback Trevor Lawrence and a few key defensive players for that game. But the Irish finished on top of the ACC, taking a decisive win on the road over 8-3 North Carolina along the way.
The top three all are in familiar territory.
For Alabama, it is a return to the field after missing out last season. The Crimson Tide had made the previous five playoffs dating back to the start of the system in 2014.
Clemson returns for its sixth consecutive trip, coinciding with its sixth consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference championship.
This is the fourth trip for Ohio State, tying Oklahoma for the third-most in playoff history. The Big Ten champions got in despite playing just six games in a season that two contests were called off due to COVID-19.
Combined the top three seeds have 16 selections in the seven seasons of the playoff.
Notre Dame’s only other trip came in 2018 when the Fighting Irish lost 34-10 in the Cotton Bowl semifinal. They faced Alabama in the BCS championship game in the 2012 season, falling 42-14 in what was the third national title for the Crimson Tide in four years.
Teams with an argument left out: No. 5 Texas A&M, whose only loss was to Alabama, and Cincinnati, which closed out an undefeated season Saturday night by beating Tulsa to win the American Athletic Conference championship.
Oklahoma, which won the Big 12, is No. 6.
The announcements for the New Year’s Six games came later Sunday.
Oklahoma will play Florida in the Cotton Bowl on Dec. 30.
Cincinnati faces Georgia in the Peach Bowl on Jan. 1.
Pac-12 champion Oregon meets Iowa State, the loser of the Big 12 title game, in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 2.
North Carolina, the highest-ranked ACC team not in the playoff, gets the conference’s spot in the Orange Bowl against Texas A&M on Jan. 2.
College Football Playoff committee final Top 25
1. Alabama (11-0)
2. Clemson (10-1)
3. Ohio State (6-0)
4. Notre Dame (10-1)
5. Texas A&M (8-1)
6. Oklahoma (8-2)
7. Florida (8-3)
8. Georgia (7-2)
9. Cincinnati (9-0)
10. Iowa State (8-3)
11. Indiana (6-1)
12. Coastal Carolina (11-0)
13. North Carolina (8-3)
14. Northwestern (6-2)
15. Iowa (6-2)
16. Brigham Young (10-1)
17. Southern California (5-1)
18. Miami (Fla.) (8-2)
19. Louisiana-Lafayette (9-1)
20. Texas (6-3)
21. Oklahoma State (7-3)
22. San Jose State (7-0)
23. North Carolina State (8-3)
24. Tulsa (6-2)
25. Oregon (4-2)
SOURCE: USA Today, Erick Smith