College Football Playoff: Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Notre Dame make the field

The College Football Playoff’s top four never changed throughout the season.

Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Notre Dame are the four playoff teams in 2020 despite the Irish’s loss to the Tigers on Saturday in the ACC championship game. Notre Dame beat out Texas A&M for the final spot in the rankings with a 10-1 record to the Aggies’ 8-1 mark.

Notre Dame was No. 2 in the playoff rankings for the first four tallies of the season. The Irish fell two spots to No. 4 on Sunday and is set to play No. 1 Alabama in the Rose Bowl at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The game is a rematch of the 2013 BCS championship game. That title game was won by Alabama, 42-14.

Clemson vs. Ohio State again

The other semifinal will be a rematch of a semifinal from a year ago. Clemson and Ohio State will play each other in the Sugar Bowl. The two teams played each other in the 2019 Fiesta Bowl. Clemson won that thriller to advance to the championship game.

Texas A&M came in at No. 5 while Oklahoma was No. 6. The Sooners beat Iowa State for the Big 12 title on Saturday. That means Cincinnati — a team that finished the season 9-0 and won the American Athletic Conference title — didn’t come close to making the playoff. The same goes for Coastal Carolina, a team that finished 11-0 and beat Louisiana and BYU in 2020.

Alabama was No. 1 in each of the five playoff rankings this season. The Crimson Tide became the first team to go 10-0 in the SEC and capped off an undefeated regular season with a 52-46 win over Florida in the SEC championship game on Saturday night.

Clemson wide receiver Amari Rodgers (3) fends off Notre Dame safety Shaun Crawford (20) as he runs for a first down during the first half of the Atlantic Coast Conference championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 19, 2020, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)
Both Clemson and Notre Dame are making the playoff after the Tigers beat the Fighting Irish. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco)

Ohio State was at No. 4 for the first four rankings and moved up to No. 3 with Notre Dame’s loss. The Buckeyes played just six games in 2020 but won all of them. That included a 22-10 win over Northwestern on Saturday in the Big Ten championship game.

Clemson was No. 3 in the first four rankings after losing to Notre Dame, 47-40, in the regular season. That double-overtime loss came without star QB Trevor Lawrence. With Lawrence behind center on Saturday, the Tigers demolished the Irish and proved themselves a legitimate contender for the national title.

Alabama is also back in the playoff after missing the four-team bracket for the first time during the 2019 season. The Crimson Tide have made six of the seven college football playoffs.

The other three teams are making repeat appearances in the playoff too. Clemson also has six appearances in the CFP. The Tigers missed out on only the inaugural playoff in 2014.

This season marks Ohio State’s fourth playoff berth and it’s Notre Dame’s second playoff berth. The Buckeyes are making back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time and Notre Dame is back in the playoff after losing to Clemson in the semifinals in 2018.

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