Notre Dame has been rewarded for its undefeated regular season with one of the four spots in the 2019 College Football Playoff. The Fighting Irish, who finished third in the final rankings released by the committee Sunday, will be joined in the final four by SEC champion Alabama, ACC champion Clemson and Big 12 champion Oklahoma.
The Cotton Bowl and Orange Bowl host this year’s national semifinals before the national championship game will be played at Levi’s Stadium – home of the San Francisco 49ers – in Santa Clara, California on Jan. 7. Alabama has appeared in the last three national title games and won two of them.
Notre Dame will face Clemson in the one semifinal matchup, while Alabama will take on OU in the other.
The Fighting Irish had their spot booked in the playoff a week before the other teams given they didn’t play in a conference title game. They earned some impressive wins during the season, including home wins over Michigan, Stanford and Syracuse and road wins over Virginia Tech, Northwestern and USC.
Quarterback Ian Book proved to be the game-changer for Notre Dame’s offense this season with 2,468 passing yards, 19 touchdowns, six interceptions and a 162.5 passer rating. His counterpart under center, senior Brandon Wimbush, was far less effective with a 4-to-6 TD-to-INT ratio and a 113.3 passer rating in six appearances.
The other three teams clinched their spots with victories in their respective conference championship games. Alabama hung on against rival Georgia to win the SEC, Clemson routed Pitt in the ACC and Oklahoma topped Texas in the Big 12. The big debate over the last 24 hours was between the Sooners, Georgia and Big Ten champion Ohio State, but the committee ultimately ruled in favor of the Big 12 champs.
Final 2018 College Football Playoff rankings
- Notre Dame
- Ohio State
- Penn State
- Washington State
- West Virginia
- Mississippi State
- Texas A&M
- Fresno State
- Iowa State
- Boise State