Clemson University

Back to the Playoff! Clemson learns CFP opponent, destination

Four in a row! Clemson celebrates ACC championship win

The Clemson football team defeated Pitt 41-10 to win the 2018 ACC Championship at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.
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The Clemson football team defeated Pitt 41-10 to win the 2018 ACC Championship at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.

Clemson clinched a spot in the College Football Playoff when it blasted Pitt 42-10 Saturday night in the ACC championship game in Charlotte.

We now know where the Tigers will play, as well as who the opponent will be in the CFP.

Clemson, the No. 2 seed in the final College Football Playoff rankings, will face No. 3 seed Notre Dame at the Cotton Bowl at 4 p.m. Dec. 29 in Dallas, it was announced early Sunday afternoon.

The 13-0 Tigers will face 12-0 Notre Dame with a spot in the national championship game on the line.

“We’re just excited to be in the playoffs,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney told ESPN. “This is what we worked for all year long. To have an opportunity to get together with our team and celebrate with all of our families, this is a big deal. We’re ready to go to Dallas. I’ve never been to the Cotton Bowl, so we’re really looking forward to it.”

No. 1 seed Alabama (13-0) will face No. 4 seed Oklahoma (12-1) in the other semifinal at the Orange Bowl in Miami. That game will be played at 8 p.m. Dec. 29.

The two winners will play in the national title game on Monday, Jan. 7, at 8 p.m. in Santa Clara, California.

This is Clemson’s fourth consecutive College Football Playoff berth. The Tigers clinched the ACC championship for the fourth consecutive time on Saturday, becoming the first team in ACC history to win four consecutive outright titles.

“Obviously you start with their defensive front, outstanding front four. A great young quarterback,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly told ESPN. “Offensively they have all the weapons, but defensively they have those as well. We know who we’re playing. Dabo has done an incredible job of building a consistent, elite football team year in and year out. But we know what we’re going to get. Our guys are excited about the opportunity.”

Notre Dame did not play this weekend as the Irish finished the regular season with a 24-17 win at Southern Cal on Nov. 24. The Irish are led by quarterback Ian Book. The junior has completed 70 percent of his passes so far this season for 2,468 yards. Book has 19 touchdowns and six interceptions.

“What a year Notre Dame has had. I think coach Kelly is the coach of the year. It’s amazing what they’ve done with the schedule that they’ve played,” Swinney said. “To be able to go on the road to some of the venues that they’ve had to go and win at, just congratulations to them. We’re looking forward to a great matchup. We’ve got an unbelievable amount of respect for Notre Dame here at Clemson.”

The two teams last met in 2015 at Clemson with the Tigers hanging on for a 24-22 home victory. The game was played in a rainstorm.

“We had an epic battle in a hurricane, so we won’t have to worry about that,” Swinney said. “We’ll be in a great, dry environment, and it should be a lot of fun.”

College Football Playoff schedule

Orange Bowl

The No. 4 Oklahoma Sooners (12-1) will face No. 1 Alabama (13-0) in the Orange Bowl at 8 p.m. Dec. 29 in Miami in a matchup of Heisman Trophy front-runner quarterbacks — Kyler Murray of Oklahoma and the Tide’s Tua Tagovailoa.

Cotton Bowl

The No. 2 ACC champion Clemson Tigers (13-0) will play No. 3 Notre Dame (12-0) in the Cotton Bowl at 4 p.m. Dec. 29 at AT&T Stadium in Dallas.

Final CFP top 25

1. Alabama

2. Clemson

3. Notre Dame

4. Oklahoma

5. Georgia

6. Ohio State

7. Michigan

8. UCF

9. Washington

10. Florida

11. LSU

12. Penn State

13. Washington State

14. Kentucky

15. Texas

16. West Virginia

17. Utah

18. Mississippi State

19. Texas A&M

20. Syracuse

21. Fresno State

22. Northwestern

23. Missouri

24. Iowa State

25. Boise State