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Breaking down Michigan football’s potential College Football Playoff semifinal opponents


Now that Michigan football has won the Big Ten championship with a 42-3 win over Iowa on Saturday, the next step for the Wolverines, undoubtedly, is the College Football Playoff

The college football world entered “Championship Saturday” with the cloud of chaos hovering various spots around the country: Arlington, Cincinnati, Atlanta, and Indianapolis. An upset in any of those locations could have reverberated to places like South Bend, Waco, and even Columbus.

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But aside from Baylor’s upset over Oklahoma State in the Big 12 title game, Saturday’s drama was lacking … much like the potency of Iowa’s offense.

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We’re now down to the four schools that entered the day in the best position to reach the CFP: Alabama, Georgia, Cincinnati, and Michigan. The only difference is there will likely be some reshuffling of the rankings following the Alabama victory over Georgia in the SEC title game.

So, who could Michigan potentially play in the CFP Semifinals on Dec. 31?

The chances of the Bearcats and Wolverines meeting in either the Cotton Bowl or Orange Bowl are slim. If those two were to meet, it would mean that the other semifinal would most likely be Georgia vs. Alabama — who just played each other on Saturday. The committee has traditionally stayed away from rematches if they can avoid them. Perhaps the most entertaining thing the committee could do is put Alabama and Georgia in a semifinal to keep us from an all-SEC CFP title game.

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Cincinnati Bearcats head coach Luke Fickell, left, and Cincinnati Bearcats quarterback Desmond Ridder (9) celebrate the victory in the American Athletic Conference championship football game, Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati. The Cincinnati Bearcats defeated the Houston Cougars, 35-20.

Cincinnati Bearcats head coach Luke Fickell, left, and Cincinnati Bearcats quarterback Desmond Ridder (9) celebrate the victory in the American Athletic Conference championship football game, Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati. The Cincinnati Bearcats defeated the Houston Cougars, 35-20.

Since it most likely won’t happen, we just have to roll with the fantasy booking of a Michigan-Cincinnati CFP semifinals.

A Cincinnati-Michigan game would perhaps be a Michigan-Ohio State “proxy war” that puts former Buckeye Luke Fickell up against Jim Harbaugh The Group of Five team to finally make the playoff against a “blue blood” program with a spot in the CFP title game on the line. The more I think about it, the more I want to see this. However, reality trumps all. Perhaps we get it in the CFP title game.

Chances of matchup happening: 5%.

A-Hamm’s line: Bearcats by 2½.

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Alabama Crimson Tide (12-1)

Stop me if you’ve heard this, the Crimson Tide is in the CFP.

It may be annoying to some, but it’s become a holiday tradition for Bama fans. The Alabama victory over Georgia in the SEC title game has now sparked a debate on who will be No. 1 when the rankings come out Sunday afternoon. Should it be Michigan, ranked No. 2 in the latest CFP rankings? Or should it be Alabama, who scored 41 points on the top-ranked team in the country.

Dec 4, 2021; Atlanta, GA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young (9) drops back to pass against the Georgia Bulldogs during the first quarter of the SEC championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 4, 2021; Atlanta, GA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young (9) drops back to pass against the Georgia Bulldogs during the first quarter of the SEC championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

If I were in charge of the CFP rankings, this is how I would do it:

1. Alabama

2. Michigan

3. Georgia

4. Cincinnati

There is a scenario where the committee could slide Cincinnati, the lone undefeated team in the Football Bowl Subdivision, up to the No. 1. If that were the case, you could rank Michigan and Alabama next in some order, followed by Georgia, the only team of the four without a conference championship.

Chances are slim, but this is college football, where little makes sense on the biggest stages of the sport.

Chances of matchup happening: 15%.

A-Hamm’s line: Crimson Tide by 8½.

Georgia Bulldogs (12-1)

Perhaps the best team in the regular season, Georgia suffered its first loss of the year, in resounding fashion, against Alabama. Regardless of the result, Georgia was a virtual lock for the playoff before Saturday.

Dec 4, 2021; Atlanta, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs wide receiver George Pickens (1) catches a long pass against Alabama defensive back Kool-Aid McKinstry (1) in the SEC championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 4, 2021; Atlanta, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs wide receiver George Pickens (1) catches a long pass against Alabama defensive back Kool-Aid McKinstry (1) in the SEC championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

The Bulldogs are most likely firmly behind Alabama and Michigan.

Whether it be in the Cotton Bowl or Orange Bowl, you are probably going to see Michigan and Georgia hook up for a spot in the CFP title game. While Georgia is a likely heavy favorite, the best matchup will be with the dueling helmets. The iconic “winged-helmet” against the red and black “G,” it’s pleasing to the eye of all college football purists.

Chances of matchup happening: 80%.

A-Hamm’s line: Bulldogs by 11.

Contact Andrew Hammond at aahammond@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @ahammFreePress. Check out some of the tremendous offers from the Detroit Free Press and subscribe today!

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan Football: Breaking down the potential CFP semifinal opponents




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