No. 1 Alabama will play No

Toby Graves
December 5, 2016

So does that mean every answer was a wrong one? That makes the conference-champion mandate impossible.

The big question surrounded the No. 4 spot, where Washington edged out No. 5 Penn State and No. 6 MI. The Horned Frogs were ranked No. 3 by the committee through Week 15, then won their regular-season finale over Iowa State 55-3 but slid all the way to No. 6 in the rankings the following week.

But, as ESPN's David Pollack correctly noted, there are five "power conferences", a specious term because it includes such powers as Purdue and Kansas, and only four CFP spots. Penn State played Pitt, Temple and Kent State in the conference and lost to the Panthers.

The Nittany Lions, on a nine-game winning streak after their comeback win against Wisconsin, are tasked with a team that's on a similar roll.

Ohio State, which lost the Big Ten East tiebreaker to Penn State and was off this weekend, became the first team to reach the playoff in its three-year history without winning its conference.

The Crimson Tide enters the postseason looking to win back-to-back championships and to join Florida State in 1999 and Southern California in 2004 as the only teams to be AP No. 1 from start to finish.

Commence debate - the pairings are in, and Penn State and MI are out. SEC Champion Alabama is, of course, still at No. 1 in every poll, as they had been all season.

Ohio State didn't play in the Big Ten title, but won 11 games and knocked off Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Nebraska and MI. Those are two sterling wins on any resume. Penn State lost to MI by 39 points and also dropped an early-season game to Pittsburgh.

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FAMILIAR PROBLEM: USC is 24-9 in the Rose Bowl game since making its first appearance in 1923, earning a 14-3 win over Penn State in the ninth Rose Bowl game ever played. Ohio State won the national championship in 2015.

Penn State was fifth, followed by Michigan, Oklahoma and Wisconsin.

Alabama is going to chase more than a national championship in the College Football Playoff. "Bottom line, you have to do what's necessary to get into top four".

They routed Colorado 41-10 for the Pac-12 championship. Clemson is still without a top-10 win this season.

Obviously, the committee agreed, not moving the Buckeyes down in anticipation of a team that would not have a chance to play a 13th game. Just as we do when the NCAA Tournament brackets are released, we can argue about who should of been there and what the committee felt was more important when selecting the teams but it will be just as futile.

But here's where the committee seemed to draw the line. One loss they were not competitive in that particular game.

So the key is to play a hard nonconference schedule? Its members broke the 2-year-old CFP mold when it needed to, but maintained the one dynamic that has to be central to their deliberations: pick the four best teams. That can be argued. Ohio State's only loss was on the road against Penn State due to a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown. This has been an incredible run and winning the Big Ten championship should be celebrated wildly. One of those schools will go the New Year's Day Six. There hadn't been all that much to cheer for when the Buckeyes were trailing, allowing the Ohio State fans and players to save up for the celebration and unleash it all at once.

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