Alabama did not win its conference or beat a single team in the Top 16 of the final College Football Playoff rankings, but it was still rewarded with the final playoff spot Sunday.
As a result, the Crimson Tide will face the Clemson Tigers in a rubber match showdown at the Sugar Bowl after playing in each of the last two national championship games. The Oklahoma Sooners and Georgia Bulldogs will square off in the other playoff contest at the Rose Bowl.
With that in mind, here is a look at the full College Football Playoff schedule, as well as the odds and a predicted winner for each contest.
College Football Playoff Schedule
Rose Bowl: No. 2 Oklahoma vs. No. 3 Georgia, Jan. 1 at 5 p.m. ET
Sugar Bowl: No. 1 Clemson vs. No. 4 Alabama, Jan. 1 at 8:45 p.m. ET
National Championship Game: Rose Bowl winner vs. Sugar Bowl winner, Jan. 8 at 8 p.m. ET
*All playoff games will be televised on ESPN.
College Football Playoff Odds
Rose Bowl: Oklahoma -1.5
Sugar Bowl: Pick
*All odds are courtesy of OddsShark, as of Sunday at 5 p.m. ET
Rose Bowl: Oklahoma
As Deshaun Watson proved last season while leading Clemson to the national championship, sometimes the team with the best player under center wins the tightly contested playoff games because of his ability to elevate to the moment.
Baker Mayfield will play that role for the Sooners this season and lead Oklahoma to a win over Georgia and then Clemson in the national title game.
Mayfield beat No. 5 Ohio State on the road, outdueled Mason Rudolph in a 62-52 victory over Oklahoma State and blew out TCU twice—one of which came in the Big 12 Championship Game.
He is OddsShark's clear-cut favorite to win the Heisman Trophy at minus-2000 in its latest update and finished the season with 4,340 passing yards, 310 rushing yards and 46 total touchdowns.
Georgia figures to put up points with its rushing attack featuring Nick Chubb, Sony Michel and D'Andre Swift, especially against an Oklahoma defense that was a pedestrian 52nd in the country in points allowed per game, but a high-scoring affair will favor the Sooners. Not only are they accustomed to them in the Big 12, it will also give Mayfield additional opportunities with quick strikes.
He will once again outscore a quality opponent and continue his impressive campaign.
Prediction: Oklahoma 34, Georgia 27
Sugar Bowl: Clemson
Alabama is as brand name as it gets in college football, but it enters this Sugar Bowl as a far less-tested squad than Clemson.
The Tigers beat No. 7 Auburn—something Alabama couldn't do—No. 10 Miami and No. 22 Virginia Tech, while also notching noteworthy road victories over Louisville, North Carolina State and South Carolina.
The Crimson Tide's best win by the final rankings came against No. 17 LSU, which happened to lose at home to Troy.
This game will be played on the field and not via resume comparisons, but the point is to illustrate how accustomed to marquee contests this group of Tigers is before a showdown with the mighty Crimson Tide.
Clemson will win the Sugar Bowl because of its defense, especially up front against Alabama's strong rushing attack. The Tigers finished second in the country in points allowed per game (12.5) and feature a daunting defensive line anchored by Christian Wilkins, Dexter Lawrence, Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant.
They will need all of them against running backs Damien Harris and Bo Scarbrough, as well as quarterback Jalen Hurts—who ran for 768 yards this season.
The thought here is Clemson will slow the run and force Hurts to throw, much like Auburn did in its victory over the Crimson Tide. Hurts was 12-of-22 for just 112 yards in that loss, as Harris (51 rushing yards) and Scarbrough (46 rushing yards) were held to less than 100 combined yards on the ground.
Prediction: Clemson 24, Alabama 21