Since its creation in 2014, the college football playoff has produced some of the most exciting and frustrating moments in college sports. Critics of the current playoff model often argue that the structure only gives a select few teams the true opportunity to compete for a national championship. This year’s college football playoff teams looks rather unique compared to previous years, but this is exactly what college football needs.
Alabama is no stranger to the college football playoff (they’ve only missed it once since 2014), and the Georgia Bulldogs are making their second ever college football appearance (last time was in 2017-18). The real shockers to this year’s playoff are Michigan and Cincinnati. The Wolverines and Bearcats will both be making their first appearance in the college football playoff and Cincinnati is the first ever Group 5 team to compete for an FBS national championship.
The Alabama Crimson Tide will face off against the Cincinnati Bearcats in the Cotton Bowl on December 31st, and we will get our first look at what an elite Group 5 team looks like against one of college football’s largest and most succesful programs. If Cincinnati can hang on during this game and make it close, I think it will be a prime example to cite for why the playoff structure needs to be expanded beyond 4 teams.
The other possibility is Cincinnati getting left in the dust against Alabama just like Notre Dame did last season. Even if the Bearcats lose, I genuinely hope that the game is close enough to make it exciting.
In the Orange Bowl, also taking place on December 31st, the Michigan Wolverines and the Georgia Bulldogs will go head-to-head for the first time since 1965 (this will be the teams' third meeting in total). Despite all the excitement around Cincinnati making the playoff, I think this is going to be the better semi-final match up. I’m expecting multiple creative offensive schemes from Jim Harbaugh to catch the stout Georgia defense on its heels. This game could just as easily turn into a shootout as it could be a defensive trench-battle.
These match ups are exciting and the addition of new teams competing for a national title is going to bring a new flare to this year’s playoff. While you can never truly know what is going to happen, it’s always fun to make some predictions. I think betting against Nick Saban in the semi-finals is a dangerous game, so I’m taking Alabama to beat Cincinnati with a score of 42-21. As for the Orange Bowl I think Michigan is going to continue to shock the country and show that they are a true contender in the B1G East for national championships. Wolverines 24, Bulldogs 21.