Bama, Michigan, UGA, Cincy to vie for CFP crown

  • College football reporter
  • Joined ESPN.com in 2007
  • Graduate of Indiana University

GRAPEVINE, Texas — 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.

No. 1 Alabama will face No. 4 Cincinnati on New Year’s Eve in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, and No. 2 Michigan will face No. 3 Georgia in the Capital One Orange Bowl, also on Dec. 31. The winners will play on Jan. 10 in the national championship game in Indianapolis.

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 Tide to the top spot. Michigan’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, and the Wolverines defeated the Hawkeyes so soundly on the Big Ten’s biggest stage.

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 AAC title and will be 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 AAC to finish 13-0, joining UCF in 2017.

Notre Dame and Ohio State finished fifth and sixth in the CFP rankings.

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