There is Alabama, last year’s champion which was ranked No. 1 in the preseason. Georgia, the nation’s most dominant team before a surprising slipup. An unexpected entrant in Michigan and Jim Harbaugh. And the rare Cinderella in Cincinnati.
The College Football Playoff, announced Sunday afternoon, has a little bit of everything: Two teams who will be making their debut, Nick Saban’s dynamo and Georgia, which suffered a stunning 41-24 loss to the Crimson Tide, and may have a quarterback controversy to manage.
There wasn’t much drama when the pairings were announced. The only question was where the teams would be placed.
Alabama was No. 1, after it’s commanding win over previously indomitable Georgia in the SEC championship game. Michigan followed at No. 2, with Georgia No. 3 and Cincinnati No. 4. It sets up a potential SEC championship game rematch in the title game, as long as Alabama and Georgia prevail, which is no lock. Michigan will enter the playoff red-hot, winners of five straight games, believing it can win it all after vanquishing its Ohio State demons.
Alabama and Heisman Trophy favorite Bryce Young will be an overwhelming favorite over undefeated Cincinnati, the first Group of Five school to be included in the playoff. The Bearcats have won 23 of their last 24 games and own one of the best wins of the season, an 11-point victory at Notre Dame. It doesn’t look like they will have to deal with Crimson Tide star wideout John Metchie III, who suffered a serious knee injury on Saturday.