Alabama is the No. 1 seed in the College Football Playoff and will face No. 4 Cincinnati, while No. 2 Michigan and No. 3 Georgia will square off on the road to the national championship.
The defending champion Crimson Tide and the Bearcats — the first-ever Group of Five team to qualify for the playoff — will meet in the Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas on New Year’s Eve.
The Wolverines will face the Bulldogs in the Orange Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida later that same night.
The winners will meet January 10 in the College Football Playoff championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Scroll down for full 2021 bowl schedule
Bryce Young #9 of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrates the win against the Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC Championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday
Will Pauling #19 of the Cincinnati Bearcats celebrates with fans after their 35-20 win over the Houston Cougars Saturday. the Bearcats will face the No. 1 Crimson Tide in the Cotton Bowl on New Year’s Eve
Head coach Jim Harbaugh of the Michigan Wolverines celebrates with the trophy after the Michigan Wolverines defeated the Iowa Hawkeyes 42-3 to win the Big Ten Championship game
Head Coach Kirby Smart of the Georgia Bulldogs talks to William Poole #31 in the second quarter of the SEC Championship game against the Alabama Crimson Tide on Saturday
The College Football Playoff committee ranked Notre Dame (11-1) as No. 5, followed by No. 6 Ohio State (10-2), with both teams missing the cutoff for the four-team playoff.
Alabama won the Southeastern Conference title on Saturday with a 41-24 victory over previous No. 1 Georgia, ruining the Bulldog’s previously undefeated record.
Both teams finished the season with a 12-1 record. The Crimson Tide’s only loss was a 41-38 decision at Texas A&M on October 9.
Cincinnati did achieve perfection, running its record to 13-0 with a 35-20 defeat of No. 21 Houston in the American Athletic Conference championship game on Saturday.
Cincinnati will now become the first school outside a Power Five conference (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac 12 and SEC) to be selected for the playoff since its inception in 2014.
Bearcats quarterback Desmond Ridder, who finished his career 26-0 at home as a starter, threw three touchdowns on Saturday and Jerome Ford had scoring runs of 79 and 42 yards.
Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder (9) looks to pass from the pocket during the first half of the American Athletic Conference championship NCAA college football game against Houston Saturday
Bryce Young #9 of the Alabama Crimson Tide goes back to pass during a game between Georgia Bulldogs and Alabama Crimson Tide at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday
Quarterback Stetson Bennett #13 of the Georgia Bulldogs rushes against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the third quarter of the SEC Championship game on Saturday
Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara (12) warms up before the Big Ten championship NCAA college football game
Leading 14-13 at the half, the Bearcats scored 21 unanswered points in a 4:24 stretch of the third quarter against the Cougars (11-2). The spree started with scores 58 seconds apart to make it 28-13.
‘We just want to play football,’ Ridder told reporters. ‘That’s all we care about. Doesn’t matter who, where, when – just put the ball down. We want to play.’
Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell said his team has done an ‘unbelievable job’ the entire season handling expectations and distractions.
‘More than anything, our guys are just incredibly excited to be challenged,’ Fickell said. ‘For us and the program, it’s an incredible opportunity and a great measuring stick.’
The Bearcats had only two victories this season over Top 25 teams, but one of those was 24-13 at Notre Dame on October 2.
That was the only loss this season for the Fighting Irish, who finished fifth in the CFP and was the first team out of the playoff.
Cincinnati won the AAC title game Saturday 35-20 over Houston, which had an 11-game winning streak. The Bearcats are the last unbeaten team standing.
Jerome Ford #24 of the Cincinnati Bearcats runs the ball for a touchdown during the second half of the 2021 American Conference Championship against the Houston Cougars on Saturday
Cincinnati Bearcats wide receiver Alec Pierce (12) catches a pass in the end zone against Houston Cougars cornerback Marcus Jones (8) in the second half during the American Athletic Conference championship game
After besting Houston to go 13-0 this year, Cincinnati becomes the first school outside a Power Five conference (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac 12 and SEC) to be selected for the playoff since its inception in 2014
‘This will be a real challenge for us in every way, shape and form,’ Alabama coach Nick Saban said of the Cotton Bowl matchup.
Alabama has won six national titles under Saban, three of those coming in the short CFP era. This is the fifth time the Crimson Tide is the No. 1 seed, and are the first No. 1 team in the Cotton Bowl since Texas in 1978.
In the SEC title game, Alabama quarterback Bryce Young passed for 421 yards and three touchdowns, leading the Crimson Tide to victory against the nation’s No. 1 overall defense.
Young was the title game MVP and made Georgia’s vaunted defense look like a scout team, surely bolstering his Heisman Trophy chances as he finished 26-of-44 without an interception. He rushed three times for 40 yards and a touchdown.
The Crimson Tide had been a betting favorite in 93 straight games, but was for once an underdog in the SEC title matchup, and Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban said his team relished the challenge.
‘The rat poison that you put out there this week was yummy,’ Saban told the media after the game. ‘You guys gave us a lot of really positive rat poison.’
Crimson Tide fans react during the fourth quarter of the SEC Championship game against the Georgia Bulldogs
Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide and Bryce Young #9 celebrate their win against the Georgia Bulldogs
Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Will Anderson Jr. (31), and defensive lineman Phidarian Mathis (48) lift the SEC championship trophy after their win against the Georgia Bulldogs at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday
With its 42-3 drubbing of No. 13 Iowa on Saturday, Michigan won its first Big Ten title since 2004 and finished 12-1.
A 37-33 loss at Michigan State on October 30 kept the Wolverines from a perfect season.
Resurgent Michigan won five straight to finish the season, and the playoff selection means the Wolverines need just one more win to play for their first national championship since 1997.
It’s been an improbable run since coach Jim Harbaugh took a pay cut following a dismal 2020.
The Wolverines started this season unranked and picked to finish in the middle of the Big Ten East, whose champion has won the last nine conference crowns.
And Saturday’s Big Ten victory it came on an emotional night when Michigan paid tribute to the victims from Tuesday’s school shooting, which resulted in the deaths of four students at Oxford High School just 60 miles from Ann Arbor.
The Wolverines honored the Oxford victims with a patch on the right shoulder of their jerseys.
The Wolverines honored the Oxford victims with a patch on the right shoulder of their jerseys featuring the initials of Tate Myre and his jersey No. 42 along with four hearts – one for each of the students who died in the shooting
Resurgent Michigan won five straight to finish the season, and the playoff selection means the Wolverines need just one more win to play for their first national championship since 1997
Andrew Vastardis #68 of the Michigan Wolverines kisses the trophy after the Michigan Wolverines defeated the Iowa Hawkeyes 42-3 to win the Big Ten Championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday
The patch featured the initials of Tate Myre, a star football player and wrestler, and his jersey No. 42 along with four hearts – one for each of the students who died in the shooting – inside the high school’s block ‘O’ logo.
Myre’s family also joined Michigan’s captains for the pregame toss and wore T-shirts that read Oxford Strong.
Hassan Haskins ran for two second-half touchdowns and broke a school record while running back Donavan Edwards threw a 75-yard TD pass to help the Wolverines seal victory.
Alabama is making its sixth appearance in the eight-year history of the CFP. This is the second appearance for Georgia.
On January 8, 2018, Georgia had a 20-7 lead in the third quarter against Alabama, but freshman quarterback Tua Tagovailoa replaced starter Jalen Hurts and led the Crimson Tide to a 26-23 overtime win.
Full bowl schedule for 2021 college football season
COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF
(Date/bowl game/kickoff time/TV channel/matchup)
Dec. 31 Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic (semifinal) 3:30 p.m. ESPN No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Cincinnati
Dec. 31 Capital One Orange Bowl (semifinal) 7:30 p.m. ESPN No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 3 Georgia
Jan. 10 College Football Playoff championship 8 p.m. ESPN Semifinals Winners
NEW YEAR’S SIX BOWL GAMES
Dec. 30 Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl 7 p.m. ESPN No. 10 Michigan State vs. No. 12 Pitt
Jan. 1 PlayStation Fiesta Bowl 1 p.m. ESPN No. 5 Notre Dame vs. No. 9 Oklahoma State
Jan. 1 Rose Bowl Game 5 p.m. ESPN No. 6 Ohio State vs. No. 11 Utah
Jan. 1 Allstate Sugar Bowl 8:45 p.m. ESPN No. 7 Baylor vs. No. 8 Ole Miss
OTHER 2021 BOWL GAMES
Dec. 17 Bahamas Bowl 12 p.m. ESPN Toledo vs. Middle Tennessee State
Dec. 17 Cure Bowl 6 p.m. ESPN2 Coastal Carolina vs. Northern Illinois
Dec. 18 RoofClaim.com Boca Raton Bowl 11 a.m. ESPN Appalachian State vs. Western Kentucky
Dec. 18 New Mexico Bowl 2:15 p.m ESPN UTEP vs. Fresno State
Dec. 18 Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl 3:30 p.m. ABC BYU vs. UAB
Dec. 18 Lendingtree Bowl 5:45 p.m. ESPN Liberty vs. Eastern Michigan
Dec. 18 Los Angeles Bowl 7:30 pm. ABC Utah State vs. Oregon State
Dec. 18 R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl 9:15 p.m. ESPN Marshall vs. Louisiana
Dec. 20 Myrtle Beach Bowl 2:30 p.m. ESPN Tulsa vs. Old Dominion
Dec. 21 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl 3:30 p.m. ESPN Kent State vs. Wyoming
Dec. 21 Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl 7:30 p.m. ESPN San Diego State vs. UTSA
Dec. 22 Armed Forces Bowl 8 p.m. ESPN Army vs. Missouri
Dec. 23 Frisco Football Classic TBD ESPN Miami, Ohio vs. North Texas
Dec. 23 Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl 7 p.m. ESPN Florida vs. UCF
Dec. 24 Hawai’i Bowl 8 p.m. ESPN Hawaii vs. Memphis
Dec. 25 Camellia Bowl 2:30 p.m. ESPN Ball State vs. Georgia State
Dec. 27 Quick Lane Bowl 11 a.m. ESPN Western Michigan vs. Nevada
Dec. 27 Military Bowl 2:30 p.m. ESPN Boston College vs. East Carolina
Dec. 28 TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl 12 p.m. ESPN Houston vs. Auburn
Dec. 28 First Responder Bowl 3:15 p.m. ESPN Air Force vs. Louisville
Dec. 28 AutoZone Liberty Bowl 6:45 p.m. ESPN Mississippi State vs. Texas Tech
Dec. 28 Holiday Bowl 8 p.m. FOX/FS1 UCLA vs. N.C. State
Dec. 28 Guaranteed Rate Bowl 10:15 p.m. ESPN West Virginia vs. Minnesota
Dec. 29 Fenway Bowl 11 a.m. ESPN Virginia vs. SMU
Dec. 29 Pinstripe Bowl 2:15 p.m. ESPN Virginia Tech vs. Maryland
Dec. 29 Cheez-It Bowl 5:45 p.m. ESPN Clemson vs. Iowa State
Dec. 29 Valero Alamo Bowl 9:15 p.m. ESPN Oregon vs. Oklahoma
Dec. 30 Duke’s Mayo Bowl 11:30 a.m. ESPN North Carolina vs. South Carolina
Dec. 30 Transperfect Music City Bowl 3 p.m. ESPN Tennessee vs. Purdue
Dec. 30 SRS Las Vegas Bowl 10:30 p.m. ESPN Wisconsin vs. Arizona State
Dec. 31 TaxSlayer Gator Bowl 11 a.m. ESPN Wake Forest vs. Texas A&M
Dec. 31 Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl 2 p.m. CBS Washington State vs. Miami
Dec. 31 Arizona Bowl 4:30 p.m. Barstool Boise State vs. Central Michigan
Jan. 1 Outback Bowl 12 p.m. ESPN2 Arkansas vs. Penn State
Jan. 1 Vrbo Citrus Bowl 1 p.m. ABC Iowa vs. Kentucky
Jan. 4 Texas Bowl 9 p.m. ESPN Kansas State vs. LSU