theSkimm's Guide to the College Football Playoff

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The Story
Roll out the green carpet. The College Football Playoff semifinal teams were selected on Sunday, December 2nd.

Why do I care?

Because united we fan. The CFP is the grand finale of the college football season and everyone you know will be flexing school spirit. Last year, 28.4 million people tuned in to the CFP National Championship Game. That's a lot of guac.

How did we get here?

Teams across the nation have been kicking, throwing, and trying to impress the Selection Committee all season long. On Sunday, the committee said “that don’t impress me much” to all but four of them. who's in?

Four teams are going head-to-head starting December 29th. Here's what you should know about them...

theSkimm ESPP CFP Alabama
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Alabama Crimson Tide

It didn’t take a crystal ball to see this one coming. No.1 ranked ‘Bama has been the team to beat all season. And the season before that. And the season before that. The Crimson Tide has won a bid to the CFP for every year of the playoff's existence. Hint: this year makes it five.

  • Team color: Crimson and White
    Watch for red the stands. UA’s colors are Crimson and White but they used to be gray, black, and white. Some say a woman representing the school at an event wore crimson to make it fashion. Others say the football team itself started the trend in 1892. And we can’t ignore the elephant in the room. Add some gray to your game day OOTD for Big Al (the team’s elephant mascot).
  • Key Player: Tua Tagovailoa (QB)
    Strong side, left side. But actually if you’re ‘Bama sophomore Tua Tagovailoa. He’s a rare left-handed quarterback and originally from Hawaii. Just watch out for his Achilles...leg. Tua’s injured the same one a few times this season: first, tweaking his knee, then taking a bad hit to the quad.
  • Sh*t people say: "Roll Tide!"
    "Roll Tide!” are the last words of the song “Yea Alabama,” and a phrase fans use to say “hi”, “bye”, “go team,” and just about anything else. The school even trademarked the phrase. So if you want to be one with the crimson wave, practice.
  • Sh*t people snack: BBQ
    It may be the obvious choice for a team in the Deep South, but BBQ is the Tide-and-true chow you’ll find at any Tuscaloosa tailgate. If you’re not grilling yourself, local restaurants Dreamland BBQ and Archibald’s are loved for offering tailgate packages you can pick up for game day.

theSkimm ESPP CFP Clemson
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Clemson Tigers
Just behind ‘Bama is No.2 ranked Clemson. The Tigers earned their fourth-straight trip to the College Football Playoff. FYI, in 2017 they beat ‘Bama in a v close national championship game (35-31).

  • Team colors: Orange and Regalia
    Clemson is a bit of a, well, copycat when it comes to team swag. Walter Riggs founded the football program at Clemson and “borrowed” uniforms from the team he played on in college: Auburn. Yep, the OG Clemson team hit the field in Auburn’s old orange and navy jerseys. Only, the jerseys were so beat up the navy looked more like a faded purple. Fancy translation: regalia.
  • Key Player: Trevor Lawrence (QB)
    Trevor Lawrence is a freshman quarterback who’s been called the "best prospect since Manning" (the older one, from Nationwide commercials). But some think Clem’s had a pretty easy schedule and want to see how he fares against tougher defenses. It doesn't hurt that he kinda sorta looks like Sunshine from "Remember the Titans.”
  • Sh*t people say: “C-L-E-M-S-O (wait for it)-N”
    Hear that rumbling? Nope, not us running for chips & queso. It’s the "Tiger Rag" aka “the song that shakes the Southland.” For more than 75 years, it's been Clem's official fight song. Listen up when the school's Tiger Band leads the crown in a “C-L-E-M-S-O *pause for dramatic effect* -N” cheer.
  • Sh*t people snack: Blue cheese
    Sweet dreams are made of cheese. They are if you go to Clemson. Thanks to a dairy professor, the school has famously cured gourmet blue cheese since 1941. Pairs well with tailgate wings. I dip, you dip, we dip.

updated - theSkimm ESPP CFP NotreDame
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Notre Dame Fighting Irish

No.3 seed Notre Dame isn’t riding on luck. They have a really really ridiculously good team that’s singing “we will (sham)rock you” into the semifinals.

  • Team colors: Blue and Gold
    Notre Dame’s colors are Blue and Gold, but when it comes to football, the school has a bit of an identity crisis. As in...on Wednesdays, sometimes the squad wears green. It’s not for the reason you’re thinking. The Fighting Irish started wearing green in the 1920s to contrast with opposing teams (who were often wearing navy). TBD on what they’ll wear in the semifinal, as uniforms are usually kept secret until game day.
  • Key Player: Ian Book (QB)
    The Fighting Irish will continue to go by the Book into the CFP. Ian Book, that is. The junior quarterback has one of highest completion records in the country. What it means for you: he throws those hold-your-breath-and-jump-out-of-your-seat passes. Lookout for his bromance with wide receiver Miles Boykin for them. Justin Yoon, too. The Kicker is a fan favorite and all-time leading scorer in Notre Dame history.
  • Sh*t people say: "Cheer, cheer for old Notre Dame"
    “Cheer, cheer for old Notre Dame” is an oldie but goodie. The cheer is from the “Notre Dame Victory March” – written by two brothers who graduated from the school in the early 1900s, and one of the most recognizable fight songs ever.
  • Sh*t people snack: Steak sandwiches
    Not just any steak sandwiches. Specifically from “Knights of Columbus” on the South Quad of campus. Standing in the long af line before a game is a Notre Dame tradition. Bonus: proceeds from sales go towards charities in the South Bend area, like the Kelly Cares Foundation (co-founded by head coach Brian Kelly) and the Louisiana Flood Relief Fund. Win-win.

theSkimm ESPP CFP Oklahoma
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Oklahoma Sooners
The No.4 Oklahoma Sooners have been a Monet this year. As in, from far away their quarterback makes it looks good, but up close their defense is a mess. Still, the Sooners avenged their only loss of the season (hi, Texas) on Sunday, and the Selection Committee picked them to round out the CFP.

  • Team colors: Crimson and Cream
    In 1895, a committee (ft. OU’s first female faculty member) selected crimson and corn as the official school colors. But no one was buying the yellow merch so the school went with Crimson and Cream.
  • Key Player: Kyler Murray (QB)
    Kyler Murray is the backbone of the Sooner family. The junior quarterback has bailed out OU’s defense all season and led Oklahoma to its fourth Big 12 title. Psst...he doesn’t just throw the ball, he swings at it, too. The overachiever is a baseball player and was drafted by the Oakland A’s to play in the big leagues next year.
  • Sh*t people say: BOOMER SOONER, O-K-U!”
    The “Boomer Sooner, O-K-U!” cheer is from “Boomer Sooner” – one of the easier fight songs to memorize. Think it sounds familiar? It was written by a student in 1905 who “borrowed” the tune from Yale’s “Boola Boola.”
  • Sh*t people snack: Theta Burger
    The origins of the Theta Burger are disputed, but there’s no denying it’s a must-order on game day...or any day. Here’s how it stacks up: burger topped with barbecue sauce (aka Hickory Sauce), shredded cheddar, mayo, dill pickle slices, and absolutely no onions. Some say the owner of a local restaurant got so tired of complicated orders from sorority students (cough, Kappa Alpha Theta, cough) that he came up with a shortcut.

Want to know who’s in charge of all this? That would be the coaches. Get a rundown on the ones who took their teams to the top by listening to our Skimm Note...

Let's do this. Tell me how.

Here’s the game plan: on Saturday, December 29th, Clemson and Notre Dame will go head-to-head at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic at 4pm ET on ESPN. To the East, Alabama and Oklahoma face off at the Capital One Orange Bowl at 8pm ET on ESPN.

The CFP is a BFD. Don’t drop the ball. Stay tuned to find out who will be moving onto the College Football Playoff National Championship Game Presented by AT&T. Learn more here.

PS: That was a lot. But we have more. Watch our video on the CFP Selection Committee for more on how the teams got picked...

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