Notre Dame makes College Football Playoff; Indiana, Ball State receive bowl bids

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Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book looks for a receiver during the first quarter against Clemson in an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in South Bend, Ind. (Matt Cashore/Pool Photo via AP)

INDIANAPOLIS — After endless hours of debate, Notre Dame is in the College Football Playoff.

The Fighting Irish (10-1) will play No. 1 Alabama in the Rose Bowl Game in Arlington, Texas on New Year’s Day. The game was moved from Pasadena because of California’s COVID-19 protocols.

It will be their first Rose Bowl appearance since 1925 when they defeated Stanford 27-10 and their fourth bowl game against the Crimson Tide.

It appeared to be a toss-up between Notre Dame and Texas A&M for the final CFP spot after the Irish lost the ACC Championship Game to Clemson, but a victory over the Tigers in November and a win against North Carolina proved to be enough for an invitation in the committee’s eyes.

It’s the Irish’s second trip to the CFP in three seasons after losing to eventual national champion Clemson in the semifinals in 2018.

The Tigers and Ohio State will play in the other CFP semifinal in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans.

Indiana (6-1) will play Ole Miss in the Outback Bowl in Tampa on January 2. It’s the first time the Hoosiers will play in January bowl games in back-to-back years in program history.

“Our players, coaching staff, medical staff and everyone associated with our team worked hard to navigate through this difficult season and I am so happy everyone is getting rewarded for their efforts,” said head coach Tom Allen. “Making our second-straight January bowl game shows where we are at as a program and we are not done yet.”

Indiana beat Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin and played conference champion Ohio State to within one-score this season. Now, the Hoosiers will try to win their first bowl game since the 1991 Copper Bowl.

Mid-American Conference champion Ball State (6-1) will play Mountain West Conference champ San Jose State (7-0) in the Arizona Bowl in Tucson on New Year’s Eve on CBS4.

The Cardinals won the MAC for the first time since 1996 after upsetting heavy favorite Buffalo in the league title game in Detroit on Friday night.

“Our team has worked so hard and persevered through so much to become champions and to earn the chance to play on a stage like this,” said Ball State head coach Mike Neu. “It’s a tremendous opportunity for this special group to continue an amazing ride, and we can’t wait to play in Tucson.”

This will be the Cardinals’ 10th bowl appearance in school history and first since 2013. The program is still looking for its first ever bowl victory.

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