Irish coach Brian Kelly was glad to hear of the players' approach to the latest challenge. No one factor is more important than another, and this year, the difference between 4, 5 and 6 was very close. MI will face Florida in the Peach Bowl in Atlanta on December 29, while Purdue will play Auburn in the Music City Bowl in Nashville on December 28. There were no conference champions with fewer than two losses (barring UCF), so the committee was justified in putting in Alabama.
"He wanted to win the game, " Fields said.
Clemson is making its fourth College Football Playoff appearance with a new bowl experience against a first-timer in the four-team playoff. Top-ranked Alabama will face number-four Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl while second-ranked Clemson battles number-three Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl. Notre Dame is the first independent team to make the playoff.
Notre Dame's defense is what will keep the Irish in the game.
The Fighting Irish have played at AT&T Stadium once, beating Arizona State 37-34 in October 2013.
Oklahoma snags 4th spot in football playoff semifinals
In the end, though, Clemson is going to have to come prepared with a good game plan to stop that Notre Dame offense.
UAB defeated Middle Tennessee 27-25 on Saturday in the C-USA title game.
The trip to the Fiesta Bowl isn't the first time UCF has taken a trip out to the desert.
The other matchup will feature Clemson and Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl.
Clemson won the 2015 game against the Irish in a driving rainstorm, and Swinney said he is looking forward to once again matching up against a traditional football power in Notre Dame. No. 1 Alabama beat Georgia in the SEC title game and No. 4 Oklahoma snagged a Big 12 championship from archrival Texas.
The Cavaliers have not played at the Belk Bowl since 2003, when it was the Continental Tire Bowl. The game - played in Arlington, Texas, at AT&T Stadium - will determine who faces off against the victor of Alabama and Oklahoma, who will play on the same day in Miami in the Orange Bowl.