The Rose Bowl is scheduled to be one of the two College Football Playoff semifinal matchups this season. And it appears it's going to stay that way for now, despite the restrictions set in place in California because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier this week, there was some concern that the CFP semifinal would be relocated. If the game isn't played at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, then it would have to use a different name. But on Tuesday, College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock said in a statement that they're moving forward with planning for the Rose Bowl, although they hope families of student-athletes will be allowed to attend despite the current restrictions.
Regardless, there will be a College Football Playoff this season. And, as of now, the Rose Bowl will be part of it.
However, it's still unknown which teams will participate. Alabama, Notre Dame, Clemson and Ohio State hold the top four spots in the CFP rankings, but that could change after Saturday when each of those teams will be playing in a conference championship game.
Here's everything you need to know about the upcoming Rose Bowl, along with a prediction for which two teams will go head-to-head with a berth in the CFP National Championship Game on the line.
Rose Bowl 2021 Information
Date: Jan. 1, 2021
Time: 5 p.m. ET
Clemson vs. Ohio State
Remember how exciting last season's Fiesta Bowl was? Now, let's do it again, but this time in Pasadena.
Alabama is likely to hold on to the No. 1 spot in the College Football Playoff rankings with a victory over Florida in Saturday's SEC Championship Game, and that will send the Crimson Tide to the nearby Sugar Bowl as the top seed.
The ACC Championship Game is a rematch between Clemson and Notre Dame on Saturday, but it's likely both teams could still get into the CFP, especially if Clemson wins. The Fighting Irish beat the Tigers 47-40 in double overtime on Nov. 7, but Clemson was without star quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who missed two games after testing positive for COVID-19.
This time, Clemson will come out on top. That previous loss is only the Tigers' second defeat in their past 40 games, so they're unlikely to lose again so soon, especially with Lawrence back under center as they look for revenge and their sixth straight ACC title. And a victory will move Clemson up to the No. 2 spot in the CFP rankings.
With Notre Dame losing, it will open the door for Ohio State to move up one spot to No. 3. The Buckeyes are facing Northwestern in Saturday's Big Ten Championship Game, and they're likely to win, improve to 7-0 and solidify their CFP berth. Some will think Ohio State shouldn't be included because it played only seven regular-season games, but its on-field results speak for themselves.
It should be exciting to see Clemson and Ohio State face off again at the Rose Bowl, especially with Lawrence and Buckeyes quarterback Justin Fields both back for the matchup. Last season, the Tigers beat the Buckeyes 29-23, with Lawrence throwing a go-ahead 34-yard touchdown to running back Travis Etienne with one minute, 49 seconds to go in the fourth quarter.
The two teams combined for 933 total yards of offense, and Clemson overcame an early 16-0 deficit to advance to the CFP National Championship Game (where it then lost to LSU).
Ohio State has never beat Clemson, losing all four previous matchups between the two schools. The last two have each taken place at the Fiesta Bowl as part of the College Football Playoff (2016 and 2019).
The Buckeyes last appeared in the Rose Bowl at the end of the 2018 season, when they missed out on the CFP and beat Washington 28-23. The Tigers have never played in the Rose Bowl, which features a Big Ten team and a Pac-12 team in years in which it's not a CFP semifinal.
If Clemson and Ohio State end up meeting in the Rose Bowl, it should be another competitive game that could go either way. However, it's always tough to bet against the Tigers this time of year, as they've reached the CFP National Championship Game in four of the previous five seasons, winning a pair of national titles during that time.