No. 1 Alabama And No. 3 Georgia Will Meet Again For Title If Bama Beats Cincinnati, And Bulldogs Take Michigan

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Alabama (12-1) is No. 1 again and will play No. 4 Cincinnati (13-0) in a national semifinal in the Cotton Bowl in Arlington, Texas, on Dec. 31, the College Football Playoff selection committee announced Sunday morning.

The Tide was No. 3 Saturday night when it defeated No. 1 Georgia, 41-24, in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta. Georgia (12-1) fell to No. 3 and will play No. 2 Michigan (12-1) in the other national semifinal on Dec. 31 in the Orange Bowl in Miami. Game times for the two semifinals have not yet been announced.

Michigan and Cincinnati are in the playoffs for the first time, and Cincinnati is the first American Athletic Conference to make the final four.

The two semifinal winners will play in the national championship game on Jan. 10 in Indianapolis at 7 p.m. central time on ESPN.

Alabama previously won national championships under coach Nick Saban in 2009, ’11, ’12, ’15, ’17 and ’20. Georgia last won a national title in 1980. The Bulldogs and second-year coach Kirby Smart lost the national championship game to Alabama on Jan. 8, 2018, 26-23, in overtime.

Alabama is the No. 1 team entering the playoffs for the fifth time in the eight years of the system.

“I’m extremely proud of our coaching staff, our players, the entire organization,” Saban said after the SEC title game in which he was a touchdown underdog. “Georgia should be congratulated on the great season that they had. To go undefeated is really something of significance.”

Notre Dame (11-1) finished No. 5 with Ohio State (10-2) at No. 6.

“We have a two-game season now, I hope,” Saban said.

“Give Alabama credit, but we’ve got a lot to work on,” Smart said. “We can’t turn the ball over and give up 60- and 70-yard passes and expect to be successful.”

Georgia senior quarterback Stetson Bennett threw for 340 yards and three touchdowns, but he was intercepted twice. Smart was asked if he had a decision to make about who starts at quarterback in the semifinal. Junior backup J.T. Daniels, a transfer from USC after the 2019 season, has played in six games this season, completing 68 of 94 passes for 722 yards and seven touchdowns and three interceptions.

“We have a decision to make every week at every position,” Smart said, avoiding the question. “But I have the utmost confidence in Stetson Bennett. He did some really nice things tonight. We go and reevaluate everything all the time, but he played well. We have to be able to run the ball (109 yards, 30 carries) and have a little bit of semblance of balance. But I certainly have a lot of confidence in Stetson, and I have a lot of confidence in J.T., too.”

The rest of the top 10 of the final in-season top 25 by the CFP rankings had Baylor (11-2) at No. 7, Ole Miss (10-2) at No. 8, Oklahoma State (11-2) at No. 9 and Michigan State (10-2) at No. 10.

Utah (10-3) led off the second 10 at No. 11, followed by No. 12 Pittsburgh (11-2), No. 13 Brigham Young (10-2), No. 14 Oregon (10-3), No. 15 Iowa (10-3), No. 16 Oklahoma (10-2), No. 17 Wake Forest (10-3), No. 18 North Carolina State (9-3), No. 19 Clemson (9-3) and No. 20 Houston (11-2).

The bottom five included No. 21 Arkansas (8-4), No. 22 Kentucky (9-3), No. 23 Louisiana (12-1), No. 24 San Diego State (11-2) and No. 25 Texas A&M (8-4).

Six SEC teams made the final CFP poll before the playoffs – Alabama, Georgia, Ole Miss, Arkansas, Kentucky and Texas A&M. And a record 13 were invited to bowl games.

Written by Glenn Guilbeau

Guilbeau has been on the LSU beat since 1998 with multiple outlets in Louisiana, prior to that he had covered both Auburn and Alabama. He won first place for his game feature on LSU's upset at Florida last season from the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). He was also named Beat Writer of Year, by Louisiana Sports Writers Association in July; placed in three Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) categories – Beat Writer, Explanatory, Game Coverage – last spring. Guilbeau was also the FWAA first-place winner for columns in 2017 and was also the top overall winner in 2016 FWAA placing first for his game story, second in columns, and receiving honorable mention for features.


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  1. I read the title of the article and thought, “Well, duh! That’s one of the scenarios that may play out…amongst others”. A rematch between the two programs is a realistic outcome given the four teams in the CFP. I went on to read the article to see if there was anything profound. Nope.

    I blame myself for spending time on this article.

    I feel like articles should give the readers some new information, something we couldn’t have arrived at ourselves; not just list the obvious. It’s why I follow Outkick…leave “reporting the obvious” to the others. I’m here for thought-provoking articles.

    • Well there’s simply nothing more to elaborate on this one. If Bama wins and Georgia wins they meet again. Now Bama will win, in fact Bama can make this game against Cincinnati as ugly as they want to and there’s absolutely nothing Cincinnati can do about it. Georgia vs Michigan on the other hand is a different story. Georgia by all means is absolutely littered with talented players, on talent alone Georgia can beat 9 out of 10 teams they play, but Georgia has a huge problem. If the talent is equal or even close, Georgia is at a huge disadvantage with whoever Kirby Smart is coaching against.

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