December 6, 2021 • Athletic AdministrationAthletic LeaderCoachingFootball

College Football Playoff Matchups Set

Two SEC teams and the first Group of 5 team in the history of the College Football Playoff will play for the national title, as the CFP selection committee revealed No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Michigan, No. 3 Georgia, and No. 4 Cincinnati as its top four teams Sunday on Selection Day.

Alabama will face Cincinnati in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, and Michigan will face Georgia in the Capital One Orange Bowl on Dec. 31. The winners will play on Jan. 10 in the national championship game in Indianapolis. Both semifinal games and the national title game will air on ESPN.

It was a relatively drama-free weekend, as the committee’s top four remained the same, just reshuffled, following the conference title games Saturday.

Alabama’s dominant performance in its 41-24 win over Georgia in the SEC championship game catapulted the one-loss Crimson Tide to the top spot.

“Not only did Alabama beat Georgia, but the way they beat them — they controlled the game, pretty much from start to finish,” CFP selection committee chair Gary Barta said on ESPN.

playoffMichigan’s 42-3 dismantling of Iowa in the Big Ten championship game solidified the Wolverines at No. 2. Georgia dropped to No. 3 in part because of its lopsided loss, but it also stayed behind Michigan because it didn’t have a conference title, while the Wolverines defeated the Hawkeyes soundly on the Big Ten’s biggest stage.

Barta said the committee gave no consideration to avoiding a rematch between the Crimson Tide and Bulldogs in the first round when seeding the teams.

Undefeated Cincinnati, which won a school-record 13 games, punctuated its résumé with a convincing 35-20 win against No. 21 Houston in the American Athletic Conference championship game. It was the Bearcats’ second straight American title, and this will mark their second straight New Year’s Six bowl appearance as the highest-ranked Group of 5 conference champion.

Cincinnati became the second team in the history of the American to finish 13-0, joining UCF in 2017.

“All year we’ve tried to avoid saying we’re carrying the flag [for the Group of 5],” Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell said on ESPN. “I think you can get lost in a lot of things that are going on.”

Notre Dame and Ohio State finished fifth and sixth in the CFP rankings, just missing the College Football Playoff, and head to the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl and Rose Bowl, respectively.