The College Football Playoff selection committee didn’t have any surprises for us on Sunday.
Alabama, Michigan, Georgia, and Cincinnati are the four teams that will play in the College Football Playoff. No. 1 seed Alabama will play No. 4 seed Cincinnati in the Cotton Bowl while No. 2 seed Michigan will play No. 3 seed Georgia in the Orange Bowl.
Alabama (12-1) got the top seed with a 41-24 win over Georgia in the SEC championship game. The Tide entered the weekend at No. 3 and needed to beat No. 1 Georgia to stay in the top four. The win was extremely convincing and locked out two of the playoff spots for the SEC. The victory came as Alabama entered a game as an underdog for the first time since 2015.
Georgia (12-1) fell behind Michigan (12-1) after the Wolverines dominated Iowa, 42-3, in the Big Ten championship game. There was no question about who the best team in Indianapolis was on Saturday night and a Michigan vs. Georgia semifinal will be a spicy game. Both teams love to dominate the line of scrimmage and move the ball with powerful running games.
Cincinnati (13-0) is the first non-Power Five team to make a playoff since the four-team format was introduced in 2014. The Bearcats bludgeoned Houston in the second half of the AAC championship game on Saturday to cap an undefeated season and stay in the top four. Cincinnati’s win came hours after No. 5 Oklahoma State came up inches short of a Big 12 championship.
Baylor stopped OSU RB Dezmon Jackson mere inches from the pylon while he tried to score a game-winning touchdown with less than a minute left. Had Jackson scored, Oklahoma State would have finished the season at 12-1 and we would have ended up with a morning debate about the worthiness of the Cowboys or Bearcats for the fourth and final playoff spot.
Instead, Cincinnati is deservedly in the playoff. While the AAC wasn’t as strong as the Power Five conferences this season, Cincy is the only undefeated team in the country. And the Bearcats beat the four other teams in the conference with winning records by a combined score of 174-68.
Notre Dame ends up as the first team to miss out on the playoff at No. 5. Had Notre Dame made the playoff it would have been the first team to play a playoff game without the man who coached them throughout the regular season. Brian Kelly left for LSU early last week and Notre Dame announced Friday that defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman would be promoted to replace Kelly.
Ohio State moved up to No. 6 in the final rankings from No. 7.