After a dominant victory and then a night of angst, Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer got the news he was seeking at about 12:45 p.m. today. "We're honored to be a part of the first College Football Playoff," he said.

After a dominant victory and then a night of angst, Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer got the news he was seeking at about 12:45 p.m. today.

"We're honored to be a part of the first College Football Playoff," he said.

It will be No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 OSU in a national semifinal in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1 at 8:30 p.m. The winner will take on the victor of the Rose Bowl -- No. 2 Oregon against No. 3 Florida State on the same day -- for the national title on Jan. 12 in Arlington, Texas.

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In other words, it will be Nick Saban vs. Meyer -- a rematch of one of the great coaching matchups of the Southeastern Conference of yesteryear -- and 2013 Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston vs. probable 2014 Heisman winner Marcus Mariota.

But what matters to Ohio State fans is that the Buckeyes -- who suffered a shocking loss to Virginia Tech in the second week of the season -- rose to become what CFP committee chairman Jeff Long said was the "decisive" fourth seed, ranked ahead of No. 5 Baylor and No. 6 TCU, which less than a week ago was the committee's third seed.

What stood out, Long indicated, was Ohio State saved its best for last, a resounding 59-0 win over Wisconsin last night in the Big Ten championship game.

>> Photos: Ohio State 59, Wisconsin 0

"We're a young program, a team that if you would have told me this back in August, I'd have said, 'Not yet,'" Meyer said. "'Maybe next year, because we're just so young.' I think we have seven freshmen playing, or something like that."

It was not about the way the Buckeyes started the season but the way they ended it.

"It was really about Ohio State's performance (in the Big Ten title game) that propelled them ahead of Baylor and TCU," Long said on ESPN after the rankings were announced. "Ohio State was decisively that No. 4. They were voted in there clearly."

Despite sitting No. 5 in the CFP rankings last week, the Buckeyes were an underdog going into the game against Wisconsin because they were replacing their starting quarterback for the second time in four months. Cardale Jones made his first collegiate start last night, in place of the injured J.T. Barrett, and he and the Buckeyes delivered, especially the defense, which shut down the nation's No.1 rusher in Melvin Gordon.

"With the championship game, Ohio State demonstrated they were a total team," Long said. "They did overcome replacing two quarterbacks (including Braxton Miller, who went down with a shoulder injury less than two weeks before the opener), and that is a tremendous statement about the ability of their team.

"It was decisive for Ohio State to move into that fourth spot."

tmay@dispatch.com

@TIM_MAYsports

Playoff seeds

1. Alabama

2. Oregon

3. Florida State

4. Ohio State

National semifinals

Oregon (2) vs. Florida State (3)

5 p.m. on Jan. 1

Rose Bowl; Pasadena, Calif.

ESPN

Alabama (1) vs. Ohio State (4).

8:30 p.m. on Jan. 1

Sugar Bowl; New Orleans

ESPN

College Football Playoff national championship

Semifinal winner vs. semifinal winner

8:30 p.m. on Jan. 12

AT&T Stadium; Arlington, Texas

ESPN