IRVING, Texas – While the college football playoffs have evolved from disconnected balls to the current four-team playoffs, they’ve never really embraced the underdog like basketball does every March.

The upstarts were lucky at times to play blue blood in a big bowl game, but they never entered the playoffs with a legitimate opportunity to win a national championship.

Well, college football finally has its first Cinderella team: Cincinnati shattered the glass ceiling.

The Bearcats will face Alabama at the Cotton Bowl on New Years Eve after being selected for the college football playoffs on Sunday. Michigan will face Georgia in the Orange Bowl semi-finals on December 31, and the winners will play for the national championship on January 10 in Indianapolis.

Fourth-seeded Cincinnati are the first team to reach the CFP from a group-five conference in the eight-year history of this postseason format; At this point, the only participants had been members of the Power Five conferences and the powerful independent Notre Dame. The Bearcats (13-0) have won the American Athletic Conference and head to the playoffs as the only undefeated team remaining this season in the Football Bowl subdivision.

“This is a historic day. It really is. In the world of sport, it is history,” said AAC Commissioner Mike Aresco. “It’s probably something a lot, a lot of people never thought they would see.”

Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell has played down the burden on the Bearcats to represent the little guy, saying they “just want to be us,” but it’s a big step nonetheless.

When the Bowl Championship Series began in 1998 – succeeding the Bowl Alliance, itself a replacement for the Bowl Coalition, all the steps to a true title game – Tulane went undefeated at Conference USA and didn’t even get it. room in one of the lavish bowls. . During his tenure as chairman of Tulane, Scott Cowen was among the first to attack the BCS as an exclusionary cartel.

Utah, coached by Urban Meyer at the time, went undefeated as a member of the Mountain West Conference in 2004 and reached the Fiesta Bowl, but could only play an average Pittsburgh team, meaning that the Utes had no chance of finishing No. 1. 1.

Boise State made a mark by being a potential BCS breaker during his time at the Western Athletic Conference, winning a remarkable Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma in 2007. Texas Christian University was in Mountain West when they won a Rose. Bowl against Wisconsin in 2010.

Utah and TCU ended up being picked up by the Power Five conferences. If you can’t beat them, ask them to join you.

The birth of the 2014 season playoffs doubled the number of teams that had a chance of winning the national title from two to four, but that didn’t seem to help the little guys.

The University of Central Florida won 25 straight games in 2017-18 and has never done better than eighth on the selection committee standings. The Knights have gone so far as to declare themselves National Champions after being the only major college football team to finish the 2017 season undefeated.

Cincinnati laid the groundwork for this year’s race by going undefeated in the regular season last year before losing to Georgia on a late field goal in the Peach Bowl.

Aresco admitted that this race had at times been bittersweet for him. Cincinnati, along with AAC finalist Houston, along with UCF, will be leaving the league for the Big 12 soon, as part of the conference realignment carousel that began spinning last summer when Oklahoma and Texas have announced imminent departures for the Southeastern Conference.

The Bearcats made history with little debate, however. Playoff Selection Committee chairman Gary Barta said there was strong consensus for Cincinnati at No.4 ahead of No.5 Notre Dame, who suffered just one loss – at home against the Bearcats in early October. Ohio State finished sixth in the final CFP standings.

“It will be a real challenge for us all around,” said Alabama coach Nick Saban.

The Bearcats might not have been so comfortable on the pitch if things had turned out differently in the Big 12 Championship game on Saturday. Oklahoma State, which was No. 5 in the CFP standings before the game, almost scored a touchdown in the last minute of its loss to Baylor.

Saban, who noted that he played at Kent State during the Mid-American Conference, said Cincinnati’s success is a positive development for the sport: “I absolutely think everyone involved in college football, at the Division I level, should feel like they have an opportunity to make the playoffs. “

This is the third time that two teams from the same conference have participated in the PSC and the second time that this has happened with the SEC. In the 2017 season, Alabama beat Georgia in overtime to win the national title.

While conference leaders plan to expand the playoffs from four to 12 teams as early as 2024, only two Power Five leagues will be represented this season: the SEC and Big Ten. The Atlantic Coast Conference missed for the first time, the Big 12 were shut out for the second season in a row, and the Pac-12 will not have a playoff squad for the sixth time.

The other Big Bowl games that make up the New Years Six have also been scheduled: Michigan State (10-2) faces ACC champion Pitt (11-2) at the Peach Bowl on December 30, while on New Years Day, Notre Dame (11-1) faces Oklahoma State (11-2) in the Fiesta Bowl, champion Pac-12 Utah (10-3) and Ohio State (10-2) meet in the squares Rose Bowl and Ole Miss (10-2) with Baylor (11-2) in the Sugar Bowl.

Cincinnati’s payoff for making history is a clash with the defending National Champions in Arlington, TX at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys.

Tide make the playoffs for the seventh time after handing Georgia their first loss of the season in the SEC title game on Saturday. Alabama (12-1) seemed to be at a loss to be eliminated from the playoffs before their game against Georgia. Instead, Bryce Young and The Tide lit up the Bulldogs’ vaunted defense to earn the seed.

The Saban Dynasty in Alabama has won three playoff championships and three BCS titles since 2009.

Georgia (12-1) managed to stay on the pitch as a third seed, becoming the second team to lose their conference title game and advance to the playoffs. Notre Dame did the same last season, when she lost a rematch with Clemson in her only season playing in the ACC, a move prompted by pandemic-altered schedules.

The Bulldogs will make their second CFP appearance when they meet second-seeded Michigan (12-1) in the Orange Bowl. Coach Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines are in the playoffs for the first time after winning the Big Ten for the first time since 2004. Michigan, which posted a 2-4 record last season, is the first team to make the playoffs after being unranked in the preseason. Top 25 of the AP.

AP Photo of Brynn Anderson / Alabama wide receiver Slade Bolden (18) celebrates in the second half of the SEC title game on Saturday in Atlanta.

BOWL SCHEDULE

Friday 17th December

Bahamas Bowl in Nassau

Toledo (7-5) v Middle Tennessee State (6-6), noon (ESPN)

Cure Bowl in Orlando, Florida.

North Illinois (9-4) v Coastal Carolina (10-2), 6 p.m. (ESPN2)

Saturday, December 18

Boca Raton Bowl (Florida)

Western Kentucky (8-5) v Appalachian State (10-3), 11 a.m. (ESPN)

Celebration Bowl in Atlanta

South Carolina State (6-5) v Jackson State (11-1), noon (ABC)

New Mexico Bowl in Albuquerque

Fresno State (9-3) v UTEP (7-5), 2:15 p.m. (ESPN)

Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La.

No.12 BYU (10-2) vs. UAB (8-4), 3:30 p.m. (ESPN)

LendingTree Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.

Eastern Michigan (7-5) vs. Liberty (7-5), 5:45 p.m. (ESPN)

LA Bowl in Inglewood, California.

Oregon State (7-5) v Utah State (10-3), 7:30 p.m. (ABC)

New Orleans Bowl

Louisiana-Lafayette (12-2) vs. Marshall (7-5), 9:15 p.m. (ESPN)

Monday, December 20

Myrtle Beach Bowl in Conway, SC

Old Dominion (6-6) v Tulsa (6-6), 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Tuesday, December 21

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise

Kent State (7-6) vs. Wyoming (6-6), 3:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Frisco Bowl (Texas)

UTSA (12-1) v San Diego State (11-2), 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Wednesday 22 December

Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, Texas

Missouri (6-6) vs. Army (8-3), 8 p.m. (ESPN)

Thursday 23 December

Frisco (Texas) Football Classic

Miami (7-5) vs. North Texas (6-6), 3:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Gasparilla Bowl in Tampa, Florida.

UCF (8-4) v Florida (6-6), 7 p.m. (ESPN)

Friday 24 December

Bowl of Hawaii in Honolulu

Memphis (6-6) vs. Hawaii (6-7), 8 p.m. (ESPN)

Saturday 25 December

Bowl of Camellia in Montgomery, Alabama.

Ball State (6-6) v Georgia State (7-5), 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Monday, December 27

Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit

Nevada (8-4) v Western Michigan (7-5), 11 a.m. (ESPN)

Military Bowl in Annapolis, Maryland.

Boston College (6-6) v East Carolina (7-5), 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Tuesday, December 28

Birmingham Bowl, Alabama

Houston (11-2) vs. Auburn (6-6), noon (ESPN)

Servpro First Responder Bowl in Dallas

Air Force (9-3) v Louisville (6-6), 3:15 p.m. (ESPN)

Liberty Bowl in Memphis

Mississippi State (7-5) v Texas Tech (6-6), 6:45 p.m. (ESPN)

Holiday Bowl in San Diego

UCLA (8-4) v NC State (9-3), 8 p.m. (FOX)

Phoenix Guaranteed Rate Bowl

Minnesota (8-4) v West Virginia (6-6), 10:15 p.m. (ESPN)

Wednesday, December 29

Fenway Bowl in Boston

Virginia (6-6) vs. SMU (8-4), 11 a.m. (ESPN)

New York pinstripe bowl

Virginia Tech (6-6) v Maryland (6-6), 2:15 p.m. (ESPN)

Cheez-It Bowl in Orlando, Florida.

Clemson (9-3) v Iowa State (7-5), 5:45 p.m. (ESPN)

Alamo Bowl in San Antonio

Oklahoma (10-2) vs. Oregon (10-3), 9:15 p.m. (ESPN)

Thursday, December 30

Duke’s Mayo Bowl in Charlotte, North Carolina

South Carolina (6-6) v North Carolina (6-6), 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)

Music City Bowl in Nashville

Purdue (8-4) vs. Tennessee (7-5), 3 p.m. (ESPN)

Peach Bowl in Atlanta

Michigan State (10-2) vs. Pittsburgh (11-2) at 7 p.m. (ESPN)

Las Vegas Bowl

Wisconsin (8-4) v Arizona State (8-4), 10:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Friday December 31

Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida.

Wake Forest (10-3) vs. Texas A&M (8-4), 10 a.m. (ESPN)

Bowl of Sunshine in El Paso, Texas

Washington State (7-5) vs. Miami (7-5), noon (CBS)

Arizona Bowl in Tucson

Central Michigan (8-4) v Boise State (7-5), 4:30 p.m.

SEMI-FINALS OF THE College Football Qualifiers

Classic Cotton Bowl in Arlington, Texas

No. 1 Alabama (12-1) vs. No. 4 Cincinnati (13-0), 3:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Orange Bowl in Miami Gardens, Florida.

No.2 Michigan (12-1) vs. No.3 Georgia (12-1), 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Saturday January 1

Outback Bowl in Tampa, Florida.

Arkansas (8-4) vs. Penn State (7-5), noon (ESPN2)

Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida.

Iowa (10-3) v Kentucky (9-3), 1 p.m. (ABC)

Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Arizona.

Notre Dame (11-1) v Oklahoma State (11-2) at 1 p.m. (ESPN)

Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.

Ohio State (10-2) vs. Utah (10-3), 5 p.m. (ESPN)

Sugar bowl in New Orleans

Baylor (11-2) vs. Ole Miss (10-2), 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Tuesday January 4

Texas Bowl in Houston

LSU (6-6) v Kansas State (7-5), 9 p.m. (ESPN)

Monday January 10

CPF National Championship game in Indianapolis

Winners of the semi-finals, 8 p.m. (ESPN)


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