Despite its Big Ten conference title and win over one of the invitees, Penn State has been left out of the 2016-17 College Football Playoff.
The selection committee opted to take Ohio State, which finished second to Penn State in the Big Ten East and lost to the Nittany Lions in October, as one of this season’s four playoff participants.
As the No. 3 team in the final four, the Buckeyes will face No. 2 Clemson on New Year’s Eve in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.
The other semifinal features No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Washington on the same day in Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
ESPN will broadcast both semi-final games.
Entering the weekend, Penn State was No. 7 in the College Football Playoff ranking, and Ohio State was No. 2. Penn State’s 38-31 win over Wisconsin in Saturday night’s Big Ten Championship game was enough to move them to No. 5 in the rankings, one spot shy of an invite.
Michigan was No. 6 in the final rankings.
The loss to Penn State is the only blemish on Ohio State’s 2016 record. The Buckeyes count wins at Oklahoma, at Wisconsin and home against Nebraska and Michigan among their 11 on the season. Ohio State's wins against Wisconsin and Michigan both came in overtime.
Alabama, at 13-0 this season's only undefeated team from a Power 5 conference, was the no-brainer top seed for the selection committee.
Clemson (11-1) and Washington (11-1) were the Nos. 3 and 4 teams, respectively, ahead of championship weekend, and both teams took care of business in their conference title games. On Friday night, the Huskies blew out Colorado 41-10 for the Pac-12 title, and on Saturday, Clemson beat Virginia Tech 42-35 for the ACC crown.
The winners of the Peach and Fiesta Bowls meet in the national championship game on Monday, Jan. 9 at Tampa's Raymond James Stadium.