Future Big 12 member Cincinnati became the first Group of 5 program to make the College Football playoff field when the selections were released on Sunday.
Cincinnati, ranked No. 4, will face No. 1 ranked-Alabama in one of the CFP semifinal games.
The Bearcats (13-0) won the American Athletic Conference championship game over Houston on Saturday.
The other College Football Playoff semifinal will pit No. 2 Michigan against No. 3 Georgia.
The Bearcats, who are set to join the Big 12 Conference no later than July 1, 2024, went undefeated in the 2020 regular season, but were only able to claim an invite to a New Year’s Six bowl game, as they faced Georgia in the Peach Bowl.
This time, the Bearcats will get the chance to play for a national title.
The Bearcats started the CFP rankings process at No. 6 after the games of Week 10. At the time, Cincinnati brought a resume that included an 8-0 record and wins over two Power 5 teams — Indiana and Notre Dame. The latter finished outside the CFP’s Top 4 but should finish in the Top 10.
The Bearcats gradually moved up the rankings. Cincinnati slid up to No. 5 after Week 11, held steady there in Week 12 and then moved into the Top 4 for the first time after the games of Week 13. At that time, Cincinnati was 11-0, coming off a blowout win over SMU and had one regular-season game remaining against East Carolina.
After beating ECU to wrap up the regular season, the Bearcats held at No. 4 in the CFP rankings before this weekend’s conference championship games.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.
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