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College Football Playoff: Washington will play Alabama in semifinal

The Conference of Champions is back in the College Football Playoff: The Pac-12 champion Washington Huskies are slotted fourth in the final CFP rankings and will play top-seeded Alabama in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on December 31.

In the other semifinal, No. 2 Clemson will play No. 3 Ohio State in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl, also on December 31.

For the first time, a non-conference champion is in the field of four, as Ohio State’s 11-1 without a Big Ten crown was good enough due to victories over Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Michigan and a lone loss to conference champ Penn State.

Washington is the only first-time participant in the College Football Playoff. Alabama is making its third appearance, while Clemson and Ohio State are making their second trip to the semifinals.

Huskies fans had sweated the outcome when the committee indicated the margin between the fourth and fifth slots was "razor thin" a week ago. But the Huskies finished strong, including dominating wins over No. 23 Washington State in the Apple Cup and No. 8 Colorado in Friday's Pac-12 Football Championship Game in Santa Clara.

"It's nice when the fruits of your labor come to fruition," Petersen told ESPN following Sunday's announcement. "You set goals and work your tails off... for it to work out the way it has is awesome." 

As for Washington's reward -- a chance to face No. 1 Alabama -- Petersen welcomed a "tremendous challenge."

"It's not just this year; it's their body of work," he said.

Asked about Huskies fans with 'We Want Bama' signs at Friday's Pac-12 Football Championship Game, Petersen laughed. "Sometimes you’ve got to be careful what you wish for," he said. "I didn’t hold that sign up."


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