College football playoff participants announced

Joe Espy, Reporter

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Sunday morning the final college football playoff rankings were announced and the top four teams in the country were chosen and announced to play in the semifinals on New Year’s Eve. #1 Alabama will play #4 Washington in the Peach Bowl.

To no surprise, the Crimson Tide rolled through a disappointing SEC schedule in route to an undefeated regular season and a conference title. On the other hand, the Huskies came into to the season ranked in the top 20 and overachieved to a 12-1 record and a Pac-12 title.

There was debate Sunday afternoon about whether #5 Penn State, winner of the Big Ten, should be more deserving of the #4 spot over Washington. The Nittany Lions sat at 11-2, but won the highly competitive Big Ten conference and had one of the best wins in the nation over #2 Ohio State.

Washington meanwhile, played one of the easiest non-conference schedules in the nation and had only one win versus a top 10 team in #10 Colorado.

With all controversy aside, the Huskies will be underdogs in this bowl game and will need an elite performance from quarterback Jake Browning and receiver John Ross. To pull the upset the defense will have to force turnovers like they did last Friday against Colorado.

For Alabama to take care of business they will need quarterback Jalen Hurts to continue to excel both passing and running the ball. The Crimson Tide have one of the top defenses and special teams in the country and will need the unit to continue to play at an elite level.

On the other side of the bracket #2 Clemson faces off against #3 Ohio St in the Fiesta Bowl. Clemson coming off last year’s title appearance, struggled early on against some easier competition. The Tigers did redeem themselves with a crucial win at home over a top 5 Louisville team at the time.

Even though Clemson did run out of luck at the end of the season losing to #23 Pittsburgh on a last second field goal, the team still gave the committee an impressive resume with wins over #14 Auburn, #11Florida State,#13 Louisville, and just last week in the ACC title game over #22 Virginia Tech.

On the other side Ohio State heads into the playoff in odd fashion after the Buckeyes failed to qualify for the Big Ten Championship due to Penn State having the advantage in the tiebreaker. On the bright side, Ohio State will be the most rested team of the four and are not rusty by any means coming off a huge overtime win over their rivals, #6 Michigan.

The teams appear to play similar offensive styles with experienced Heisman-caliber quarterbacks in Deshaun Watson for the Tigers and J.T. Barrett for the Buckeyes. They key just may be which talented defense can consistently stop the other’s offensive weapons.

Barrett has dual-threat backs Curtis Samuel and Mike Weber to balance the Ohio State attack while Watson have future NFL draft picks in receiver Mike Williams and running back Wayne Gallman. In a game where both teams have an equal amount of offensive firepower and defensive talent, turnovers and field position will likely prove crucial in determining who plays for the championship.