The first College Football Playoff will have a little bit of everything for everyone, unless you’re a Big 12 fan.
In terms of name-brand value, it doesn’t get any bigger than Alabama and Ohio State in one semifinal, with defending national champion Florida State and nouveau power Oregon in the other.
That it worked out to Nick Saban vs. Urban Meyer on one side of the draw and last year’s Heisman Trophy winner (FSU quarterback Jameis Winston) vs. this year’s likely winner (Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota), the committee on Sunday couldn’t have asked for a better start to a new era of college football.
Not that the selections were without controversy. The Big 12’s Baylor and Texas Christian both finished 11-1 but were jumped by Ohio State for the last spot. Selection committee Chairman Jeff Long said it wasn’t about what either team failed to do.
“It was really about Ohio State’s performance,” said Long, noting Ohio’s 59-0 win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game on Saturday night.
SUGAR BOWL: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Ohio State, Jan. 1 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Strength of schedule carried the Crimson Tide (12-1), SEC champs, to the top seed. The Buckeyes (12-1) will be focused on stopping running backs T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry and making quarterback Blake Sims to win.
ROSE BOWL: No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 3 Florida State, Jan. 1 5 p.m. (ESPN)
The Seminoles (13-0) return to the Rose Bowl stadium, where they won the 2013 national title 13 months ago. FSU, which has been riddled with injuries on defense, should be healthy for the Ducks (12-1).
NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP: Arlington, Texas, Jan. 12, TBD (ESPN)
Bowl-bound N.C. teams
The postseason matchups for the four in-state teams:
BITCOIN BOWL: N.C. State vs. Central Florida, Dec. 26, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
The drop in the ACC order means the Wolfpack (7-5) will return to the Tampa/St. Petersburg area for the second time this season. Central Florida (9-3) is a mile better than the South Florida team N.C. State pounded in September.
QUICK LANE BOWL: UNC vs. Rutgers, Dec. 26, 4:30 p.m. (ESPN)
The Tar Heels (6-6) and Scarlett Knights (7-5) have played //four //three times since 2006 with UNC winning the past two. Like UNC, Rutgers' defense is prone to giving up buckets of points.
SUN BOWL: Duke vs. Arizona State, Dec. 27, 2 p.m. (CBS)
The Blue Devils (9-3) will have to go through the high-scoring Sun Devils (9-3) for their first bowl win since 1960.
BIRMINGHAM BOWL: East Carolina vs. Florida, Jan. 3, 1 p.m. (ESPN or ESPN2)
Classic matchup of offense vs. defense. The high-flying Pirates (8-4) get a shot another shot at the SEC. The Gators (6-6) struggled to score points and it cost coach Will Muschamp his job.