Alabama is headed to the College Football Playoff for the fifth straight season.
The Crimson Tide will face Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl on Dec. 29 in Miami. Alabama is the only school that has reached the College Football Playoff in all five years of its existence.
Alabama was chosen as the top seed for the playoff with Oklahoma checking in as the No. 4 seed. Clemson clinched the No. 2 seed and will face No. 3 Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl.
The trip to Miami puts Alabama at the farther of the two possible playoff destinations, but prevents the Crimson Tide from playing Oklahoma in Arlington. The Sooners’ campus is less than three hours from AT&T Stadium, where the Cotton Bowl would be played.
Coach Nick Saban said he didn’t have input into the location for the game.
“The committee didn’t ask me anything,” Saban said. “I didn’t have a preference at all. I knew that we would be playing a good team in a first-class venue wherever we played. We’re certainly playing a good team and we’re playing it at a first-class venue. I had no input on any of that. I’m excited about the challenge that we have and the place that we’re going to play it.”
The protocol for the College Football Playoff selection committee says that a home-field advantage or disadvantage would be weighed when choosing the location for the top seed.
“When assigning teams to sites, the committee will place the top two seeds at the most advantageous sites, weighing criteria such as convenience of travel for its fans, home-crowd advantage or disadvantage and general familiarity with the host city and its stadium. Preference will go to the No. 1 seed,” it reads.
Alabama finished the regular season 12-0 and beat Georgia 35-28 to win the SEC championship on Saturday. The Crimson Tide began the season ranked No. 1 in the AP Top 25 and has remained there all season. It has been No. 1 in all six editions of the College Football Playoff rankings.
Oklahoma climbed its way back into the College Football Playoff picture after losing to Texas in the regular season. It avenged that loss in the Big 12 championship game on Saturday.
The matchup pits Alabama, the nation’s No. 2 scoring offense, against the top scoring offense in the country. The Crimson Tide has averaged 47.9 points per game while the Sooners have scored 49.5.
It’s also a head-to-head meeting of the two Heisman Trophy frontrunners. Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray will travel to New York later this week for the Heisman ceremony on Saturday night.
The Sooners lead the all-time series between the two schools 3-1-1, with their most recent meeting coming in the Sugar Bowl at the end of the 2013 season. Oklahoma won that game 45-31. Alabama’s only win in the series came at the 1962 season in the Orange Bowl.
Georgia fell one spot from fourth to fifth after the SEC championship. Ohio State was sixth.
Reach Ben Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-722-0196.
The final College Football Playoff rankings
1. Alabama 13-0
2. Clemson 13-0
3. Notre Dame 12-0
4. Oklahoma 12-1
5. Georgia 11-2
6. Ohio State 12-1
7. Michigan 10-2
8. UCF 12-0
9. Washington 10-3
10. Florida 9-3
11. LSU 9-3
12. Penn State 9-3
13. Washington State 10-2
14. Kentucky 9-3
15. Texas 9-4
16. West Virginia 8-3
17. Utah 9-4
18. Mississippi State 8-4
19. Texas A&M 8-4
20. Syracuse 9-3
21. Fresno State 11-2
22. Northwestern 8-5
23. Missouri 8-4
24. Iowa State 8-4
25. Boise State 10-3