NEW YORK (AP) — The Latest on the College Football Playoff and bowl selection (all times local):
ROSE BOWL: Southern California will face Big Ten champion Penn State in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 2.
The 103rd edition of the Granddaddy of Them All will match two venerable football programs that have emerged from bad times since their last trip to this postseason showcase.
USC (9-3) will meet Penn State (11-2) in a rematch of the 2009 Rose Bowl, won 38-24 by the Trojans.
The next group of bowl selections are in, and Western Michigan is going to row its boat to the Cotton Bowl.
Mid-American Conference champion Western Michigan and coach P.J. Fleck — whose “row the boat” battle cry has become a signature phrase for his 13-0 team — will play Wisconsin in the Cotton Bowl. Western Michigan is one of two unbeaten teams left in major college football, with Alabama being the other.
The other New Year’s Six matchups go like this: Michigan against Florida State in the Orange Bowl, Penn State against USC in the Rose Bowl and Auburn against Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl.
The Orange Bowl is Dec. 30. The Rose, Cotton and Sugar bowls are all Jan. 2.
Also announced are the kickoff times for the College Football Playoff semifinals on Dec. 31: Alabama plays Washington at 3 p.m. Eastern, and Clemson and Ohio State start at 7 p.m. Eastern.
Washington coach Chris Petersen is about to get a really good look at Alabama coach Nick Saban.
Up close and personal, actually.
Petersen has never coached against Saban, and that will change on Dec. 31 when their teams meet at the Peach Bowl in one of this year’s College Football Playoff semifinals.
Petersen met with reporters not long after the CFP pairings were released Sunday, and was asked if he knows Saban. Petersen’s response: “Not real well. I feel like I know him, I see him on TV so much. I’ve talked to him once or twice. But yeah, I don’t really know him.”
Alabama is 4-0 all-time against Washington, the last meeting between the schools coming back in 1986.
FIESTA BOWL: Clemson will play Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl for a spot in the national championship game.
The Tigers (12-1) were No. 3 in the next-to-last College Football Playoff rankings and leapfrogged the Buckeyes after beating No. 18 Virginia Tech 42-35 in the ACC championship game.
Clemson finished No. 3 in the AP Top 25, a spot behind Ohio State (11-1).
Led by dynamic quarterback Deshaun Watson, Clemson lost to Alabama in the national championship game last season.
Ohio State lost to Penn State on Oct. 22, but closed the season with a double-overtime victory over then-No. 3 Michigan. The Nittany Lions rallied from 21 points down to beat No. 5 Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship.
PEACH BOWL: It’s Alabama’s stingy defense versus Washington’s high-scoring offense in the Peach Bowl, one of the two College Football Playoff national semifinals this season.
The Crimson Tide plays its second straight game in the Georgia Dome. The nation’s top defense faces an offense led by Jake Browning, who has thrown for 42 touchdowns against just seven interceptions.
Alabama, by contrast, has allowed just 14 total touchdowns, including three on the ground.
The Tide is bidding to become the third wire-to-wire No. 1 team in the AP poll while the Huskies worked their way up from a No. 14 preseason ranking. Alabama offensive analyst Steve Sarkisian was the Huskies head coach from 2009-13, and Tide co-defensive coordinator Tosh Lupoi is a former Washington assistant as well.
College Football Playoff committee chairman Kirby Hocutt says “it was a challenging conversation” that led Washington to get the final spot in the semifinals over Penn State.
Hocutt, speaking on the ESPN selection show, says the committee simply decided that Washington got the No. 4 seed over the Big Ten champion 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 said that 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.
Commence debate — the pairings are in, and Penn State and Michigan are out.
Alabama is the No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoff and will meet No. 4 Washington in a semifinal game at the Peach Bowl on Dec. 31.
The other semifinal is No. 2 Clemson against No. 3 Ohio State at the Fiesta Bowl, also Dec. 31.
Alabama is the only team to be in all three editions of the CFP so far. Ohio State and Clemson are in for the second time, and Washington is a first-timer in the four-team field.
Penn State finished No. 5 and is headed to the Rose Bowl. Michigan was No. 6, likely now bound for the Orange Bowl.
Alabama is going to chase more than a national championship in the College Football Playoff. The Crimson Tide may do something no team has managed to do since the 19th century.
The 15-win watch is back.
No NCAA team has won 15 games in a season. But it has happened in college football before the NCAA was formed in the 1930s — Yale won 15 games in 1889 and a record 16 games in 1894. The other school listed in the NCAA record book as winning 15 games in a season was Penn, in 1892 and 1897.
Alabama (13-0) would get that elusive 15th win by successfully defending its national championship.
Clemson entered last year’s playoff bidding for 15-0, and had a chance to finish with that record — but lost the title game to the Crimson Tide.
Tide coach Nick Saban has only finished undefeated once in his storied coaching career. That was in 2009 when Alabama went 14-0 and won the first of his four national titles at the school.
Alabama has ended the regular season at No. 1 in the AP Top 25.
On this Bowl Selection Sunday, the biggest news comes later from the CFP selection committee. That group will release the four-team bracket to decide this year’s national champion, and it’s a lock that Alabama will be the No. 1 seed.
The two previous CFP No. 1 seeds failed to win the title, with Alabama losing to Ohio State in the semifinals two years ago, and Clemson falling to the Tide in last season’s wild national title game.
Alabama got all 61 first-place votes in the poll. Ohio State, Clemson, Washington and Penn State round out the top five, followed by Michigan, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, USC and Florida State.
Most postseason-bound college football teams and their fans will find out where they’re going bowling on Sunday.
A few already know.
BYU (8-4) accepted a bid to this year’s Poinsettia Bowl back in November 2013 — and will also be there in 2018, provided the Cougars aren’t in the College Football Playoff that season.
On Friday, the Bahamas Bowl revealed Eastern Michigan (7-5) and Old Dominion (9-3) are this year’s matchup there. Navy’s loss to Temple on Saturday in the American Athletic Conference championship game ensures the Midshipmen (9-3, with Army-Navy left) will play in the Armed Forces Bowl.
And it’ll be SWAC champion Grambling (10-1) and MEAC champion North Carolina Central (9-2) squaring off on Dec. 17 at the Celebration Bowl in Atlanta. That pairing was finalized Saturday.