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Who’s in the College Football Playoff? Georgia, Alabama, Cincinnati and …


The College Football Playoff field is almost complete, and for the second time in the format’s history half of the field will be composed of teams from the SEC.

Alabama’s 41-24 win against Georgia will send both teams to the playoff and create the possibility of the second SEC-on-SEC championship game. The last time this happened, the Crimson Tide beat Georgia with a long touchdown pass in overtime.

This power move from the SEC could overshadow the history made by Cincinnati’s win against Houston, which will end the Group of Five’s playoff drought.

Here is the fallout from this week’s run of conference championship games:

Alabama scores the upset against Georgia

Of course, watching Alabama dismantle Georgia’s defense would make you wonder: Were the Bulldogs really favored in the SEC championship game? It’s a huge win for the Crimson Tide, who will return to the playoff once again, and a banner result for the SEC, which will send two teams into the semifinals for the second time. As before, it’s the Tide and Bulldogs. There is also no question about who will lift the Heisman Trophy later this month — the winner will be Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, and it shouldn’t be a close vote.

What it means for Georgia: The Bulldogs won’t fall far in the playoff rankings as the selection committee looks to avoid an immediate rematch against Alabama. With the Tide likely to climb to No. 1, that means Georgia will land at No. 2 or No. 3, depending on what happens between Michigan and Iowa.

OPINION: Alabama makes Georgia look like a fraud

What it means for Alabama: The way Alabama played will make the Tide the clubhouse favorite to win yet another national championship under coach Nick Saban. Georgia’s defense will evaluate what went wrong on Saturday and be ready if another opportunity comes in January.

Warren Ericson and head coach Kirby Smart react after a loss to Alabama in the SEC championship.

Warren Ericson and head coach Kirby Smart react after a loss to Alabama in the SEC championship.

Cincinnati punches a playoff ticket

Houston hung tight with Cincinnati through halftime but came undone not long into the third quarter, as three quick scores pushed the Bearcats up 35-13 and into history as the first team from outside the Power Five to reach the playoff. Any doubt that Cincinnati would finish in the top four with a win was removed after Oklahoma State fell to Baylor, turning any questions instead to where the committee will rank the best team from the Group of Five.

What it means for Cincinnati: All that’s left to determine is the Bearcats’ matchup in the semifinals, with seeding still up for debate as the selection committee prepares to meet Sunday and unveil the final top four. If Michigan wins the Big Ten, Cincinnati will be ranked No. 4 and face off against Alabama.

What it means for Houston: The Cougars will still get a postseason matchup against a Power Five opponent, but it’ll be more like one of the weaker bowl teams from the ACC instead of a high-profile game in the New Year’s Six. It’s been a very good year for coach Dana Holgorsen, who did not have a winner in his first two seasons but now has the program ready for the future transition into the Big 12.

Baylor’s memorable goal-line stand wins Big 12

In control at halftime, Baylor nearly coughed up the Big 12 championship but rallied to pull off what ranks among the memorable moments in program history: the late defensive stand culminating with a fourth-down spot just inches from the end zone. That handed the Bears the 21-16 win against Oklahoma State and a spot in the New Year’s Six, while the Cowboys plummet out of the mix for the national semifinals.

What it means for Oklahoma State: From in with a win to eliminated from playoff contention, the Cowboys will almost certainly be haunted all offseason by that final sequence of events. One of the goals in the coming months will be reimagining an offense that has failed to develop quarterback Spencer Sanders and searching far and wide to find the sort of all-conference receivers this program has historically developed on an annual basis but missed badly this season.

What it means for Baylor: In just his second year, coach Dave Aranda has lifted the Bears from the bottom third of the Big 12 to the top of the conference. No wonder his name was placed in connection with some of the biggest job openings in the country. Baylor will reach the Sugar Bowl and play an opponent from the SEC.

Utah embarrasses Oregon (again)

Utah running back Tavion Thomas (9) runs the ball in for a touchdown against Oregon during the first half of the Pac-12 championship game.

Utah running back Tavion Thomas (9) runs the ball in for a touchdown against Oregon during the first half of the Pac-12 championship game.

The two meetings between these teams this season served as reminders of how far Oregon is removed from playing for national championships and just what sort of program Kyle Whittingham has built with the Utes. The combined score of 76-16 does a good job recapping just what Utah did to the Ducks across eight quarters of absolute punishment on both sides of the ball.

What it means for Utah: The Utes claim the program’s first Pac-12 championship since joining the conference and will play in the first Rose Bowl in program history. Not bad for a team that dropped a pair of games in September to Group of Five competition — though that was against Brigham Young and San Diego State, two of the top teams in the country.

What it means for Oregon: A second humbling loss to Utah in a month should raise concerns about Oregon’s style of play. For a team built on the tenets of physical play up front, Oregon sure looked not up to the challenge posed by the Utes. What would Georgia have done to this team had the Ducks managed to get that far? (That’s the only silver lining in going from the semifinals to the Alamo Bowl.) And now the program enters a waiting phase with coach Mario Cristobal, who will need to choose between sticking at Oregon or heading back to Miami.

Follow colleges reporter Paul Myerberg on Twitter @PaulMyerberg

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: College Football Playoff teams: Georgia, Alabama, Cincinnati and …




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