After a rousing victory in the 2021 SEC Championship Game on Saturday night, the defending national champion Alabama Crimson Tide once again jumped to the top of the pack in becoming the No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoff as determined Sunday by the CFP Selection Committee. The Crimson Tide (12-1) lead the four-team field that will battle for this year's national championship.
Michigan (12-1), which completed its best season in years by winning the 2021 Big Ten Championship Game on Saturday night, held onto the No. 2 spot in the CFP Rankings. After standing as the top-ranked team nearly all season, Georgia (12-1) was placed as the No. 3 seed following its SEC title game loss to Alabama.
The team making the greatest headlines, however, is No. 4 Cincinnati, which not only becomes the first Group of Five team in history to compete in the playoff but the first to get an opportunity to play for an FBS national championship, period. The Bearcats (13-0), with two wins over Power Five opponents this season (including No. 5 Notre Dame), are the only undefeated team left standing in the FBS entering the postseason.
The Fighting Irish (11-1), which as an independent program did not play a conference title game, slotted in just outside of the four-team playoff field, while Ohio State (10-2) finished No. 6 in the CFP Rankings despite not playing for the Big Ten title.
No. 1 Alabama will face No. 4 Cincinnati in the Cotton Bowl semifinal, which will be held in Arlington, Texas, on Dec. 31 at 3:30 p.m. ET. No. 2 Michigan and No. 3 Georgia will also meet that day in the Orange Bowl, which will be held in Miami Gardens, Florida, at approximately 7:30 p.m. The 2022 CFP National Championship is set for Monday, Jan. 10 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
|Date||Game / Location||Matchup||Participants|
|Title game|| Semifinal winners|
(1) Alabama vs. (4) Cincinnati
(2) Michigan vs. (3) Georgia
Alabama is back in the playoff for the seventh time in the event's eight years of existence, and it enters this season's edition as the defending champion. Georgia is making its second playoff appearance with its first coming at the end of the 2017 season.
Michigan and Cincinnati will each be making their first-ever treks to the playoff, becoming the 12th and 13th teams to earn CFP spots. The Wolverines are playing for a national title for the first time since winning the 1998 Rose Bowl and capturing the 1997 championship.
Alabama is the only team in the field that has won a CFP National Championship or played more than two games in the event. The Tide are 8-3 in the CFP with three national title wins, while the Dawgs are 1-1 in the event, ultimately losing the national title to the Tide 26-23 in overtime in their lone appearance.
Alabama has not faced Cincinnati on the gridiron since 1990; the Tide are 5-0 all-time against the Bearcats dating back to 1908. Michigan and Georgia last met in 1965, a game the Dawgs won, and are 1-1 head-to-head with the Wolverines winning their prior matchup in 1957.
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