This season's College Football Playoff semifinal games will be the Sugar Bowl and the Rose Bowl. Only the latter won't be taking place at the Rose Bowl and may even end up going by a different name.
On Saturday, CFP executive director Bill Hancock announced that the CFP semifinal matchup that was going to be held at the Rose Bowl will now be played at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on New Year's Day. The decision came after the state of California wouldn't give the Rose Bowl a special exemption to allow close friends and family members to attend the CFP semifinal game amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In Hancock's statement, he noted that the decision was a mutual agreement between the CFP management committee and the Tournament of Roses because of "the growing number of COVID-19 cases in Southern California."
It remains unclear whether the CFP semifinal game in Dallas will still be called the Rose Bowl. As ESPN's Heather Dinich pointed out, the name is "part of the Master License Agreement and is co-owned by the Pasadena Tournament of Roses and the city of Pasadena."
Either way, the CFP will go on, and two of the top four teams in the country will be playing in Texas with a CFP National Championship berth on the line.
Here's everything else you need to know about the Rose Bowl—or whatever the non-Sugar Bowl CFP semifinal will be called.
Rose Bowl 2021 (Non-Sugar Bowl CFP Semifinal) Information
Date: Friday, Jan. 1, 2021
Time: 5 p.m. ET
With Alabama certainly going to be the No. 1 seed, it will likely be heading to the Sugar Bowl for its College Football Playoff semifinal matchup. It would then be facing the No. 4 seed, which will likely be either Notre Dame or Texas A&M (unless the selection committee makes a surprise decision).
That means the Rose Bowl is likely going to be a matchup between Clemson and Ohio State in a rematch of one of last year's CFP semifinals.
Clemson is likely to move up one spot to the No. 2 seed after it beat Notre Dame 34-10 in the ACC Championship Game on Saturday. The Tigers are 10-1 this season, and their only loss came on the road in double overtime against the Fighting Irish, a game in which they were without star quarterback Trevor Lawrence because of a positive COVID-19 test.
Lawrence was in action for Clemson's second meeting with Notre Dame, and he passed for 322 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 90 yards and a score in the victory.
Clemson won its sixth consecutive ACC title and should consequently be headed to the CFP for the sixth straight year.
"We are trending in the right direction, and we are playing our best football," Lawrence said, according to Steve Reed of the Associated Press.
There's likely to be some criticism when the CFP selection committee includes Ohio State, which has played only six games this season. However, the Buckeyes were ranked No. 4 in the latest CFP rankings, and they are likely to move up a spot after beating Northwestern 22-10 in the Big Ten Championship Game on Saturday.
Although Ohio State hasn't been on the field as much as the other top teams in the country, it's hard to argue against its talent and on-field production. The Buckeyes continued their Big Ten dominance, which included picking up a quality win against Indiana along the way.
"These guys, they've been gritty, they're tough," Ohio State head coach Ryan Day said, according to Michael Marot of the Associated Press. "They've been through so much and they just don't flinch."
But will Ohio State be able to defeat Clemson in a CFP semifinal rematch? Last season, the Tigers pulled out a 29-23 win in the Fiesta Bowl, and they are always one of the toughest teams to face at this time of year.
Regardless of who wins, a Clemson-Ohio State rematch in the CFP semifinals should be exciting, and it seems that it will be the decision the selection committee will make.