Oklahoma is in: Sooners snag 4th spot in playoff semifinals

Oklahoma is in the College Football Playoff, moving into the fourth and final spot in the rankings after winning the Big 12 championship.

The Sooners (12-1) will face No. 1 Alabama (13-0) in the Orange Bowl on Dec. 29 and No. 2 Clemson (13-0) plays No. 3 Notre Dame (12-0) in the Cotton Bowl on the same day.

Georgia (11-2) dropped a spot to fifth and Ohio State (12-1) remained sixth in the selection committee’s final top 25 released Sunday. The Bulldogs lost a dramatic Southeastern Conference championship game to Alabama on Saturday while the Buckeyes won the Big Ten championship.

“Every combination was vetted, looking at their full body of work, their resumes side-by-side,” selection committee chairman Rob Mullens said. “In the end, what we decided was amongst the group of three, Oklahoma, Georgia, Ohio State, the committee voted that no one was unequivocally better than the other so then we leaned on the protocol. So we went with the one-loss conference champion.”

Selection committee protocol states conference championships work as a virtually tiebreaker when teams are close.

The Sooners beat Texas for the Big 12 title, avenging their only loss behind Heisman Trophy contender Kyler Murray. Oklahoma is making its third appearance in the five-year-old playoff. Alabama has played in them all. Clemson is making its fourth straight appearance. Notre Dame is in the playoff for the first time, making it 10 teams in five seasons to participate in the playoff.

The debate leading up to championship Saturday was whether Oklahoma or Ohio State might take the fourth spot if Alabama beat Georgia.

The wild card was Georgia beating the mighty Tide, which could have meant two SEC teams for the second straight season. Instead, the Bulldogs lost but played well enough to allow coach Kirby Smart to make that case that Georgia should remain in the top four.

The committee didn’t buy it.

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