IRVING, Texas (AP) — Cincinnati will play Alabama and Michigan will face Georgia on New Year’s Eve after being selected to the College Football Playoff as a surprise-free field of four was set Sunday.
Fourth-seeded Cincinnati becomes the first team to break through college football’s glass ceiling and reach the CFP from a non-Power Five conference. The Bearcats (13-0) won the American Athletic Conference and head into the postseason as the only unbeaten team in the country.
Their reward will be a matchup with the defending national champions in the Cotton Bowl. The Crimson Tide is in the playoff for the seventh time in the postseason format’s eight-year history after handing Georgia its first loss of the season in the Southeastern Conference title game Saturday.
Alabama (12-1) seemed to a loss away from being eliminated from playoff contention heading into its game with Georgia. Instead, Bryce Young and the Tide lit up the Bulldogs’ vaunted defense to earn the top seed.
Nick Saban’s Alabama dynasty has won three playoff championships to go along with three BCS titles since 2009.
Georgia (12-1) managed to stay in the field as the third seed, becoming the second team to lose its conference title game and make the playoff. Notre Dame did the same thing last season, when it lost a rematch with Clemson in its one season playing in the Atlantic Coast Conference, a move prompted by pandemic-altered schedules.