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College Football Playoffs: Final playoff rankings, CFP Semifinals set

College Football Playoffs, Alabama, Georgia
Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The latest college football playoffs rankings are out and with the CFB Playoffs schedule set, the best teams in the country are competing for one of four spots in the CFB Playoff Semifinal games.

As each week of the college football schedule the College Football Playoff Selection Committee releases its latest rankings every week. It provides a look at where each team stands in the playoff hunt and a potential outlook for how the final rankings will be decided.

Bookmark this page for the latest CFB Playoff rankings, schedule, bowl projections and matchup previews. We’ll update this post with blurbs on the top-four teams and new bowl projections every week.

College Football Playoff rankings: Who is in the College Football Playoffs?

Currently, four teams are allowed to participate in the college football playoffs. While there is ongoing discussion regarding future CFB playoff expansion, with the possibility of it happening within a few years, the four-team format will remain in place through 2023.

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Orange Bowl: No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (12-1) vs. No. 4 Cincinnati Bearcats (13-0)

NCAA Football: SEC Championship-Georgia vs Alabama
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone viewed the Georgia Bulldogs as the best team in college football before Saturday, a virtual lock for the No. 1 seed in the CFP Semifinals. The Bulldogs then took the field against the Alabama Crimson Tide and everyone was reminded by Nick Saban is the best coach in college football history.

Alabama, a 6.5-point underdog, dominated this for three quarters. After trailing 3-0 following the first 15 minutes of the SEC Championship Game, the Crimson Tide flipped a switch. Bryce Young won the Heisman Trophy, racking up 421 passing yards, 40 rushing yards and four total touchdowns vs. the best defense in the nation. Just as important, Saban’s defense created two takeaways and shut Georgia down on third downs (25% conversion rate). There’s no doubt who deserves the No. 1 spot in the final College Football Playoff rankings.

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Congrats are also for the Cincinnati Bearcats. Luke Fickell’s program is the first Group of 5 team to make the College Football Playoff, an accomplishment that seemed impossible a year ago. But as the only undefeated team in the country, Cincinnati earned this.

Don’t question the Bearcats’ resume. They beat Notre Dame earlier this season, Ohio State is a two-loss team and that defeat to Oregon gets worse after Utah blew them out for the second time. As for Baylor, that TCU loss prevents them from taking the No. 4 spot. The playoff committee wanted Cincinnati to coast to victories at the end of its schedule and that 35-20 victory over Houston in the AAC Championship Game give the Bearcats four consecutive wins by 14-plus points.

Stay tuned for our College Football Playoff Semifinals preview on Monday.

Cotton Bowl: No. 2 Michigan Wolverines (12-1) vs. No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs (12-1)

Syndication: Detroit Free Press
Michigan running back Blake Corum runs for a touchdown against Iowa during the first half of the Big Ten championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021.

Entering conference championship week No. 2 in the CFP rankings, there’s a case to be made for moving the Michigan Wolverines into the No. 1 spot. But since both the Wolverines and Crimson Tide are one-loss programs, the edge goes to the team that won the SEC and just beat its undefeated rival.

With that said, Michigan did nothing to lose its rankings. The Wolverines controlled the Big Ten Championship Game from start to finish, winning with defense and the rushing attack. Jim Harbaugh fought for years just to beat Ohio State and his inability to do so kept this team out of the playoffs. Now, Michigan is the Big Ten champs and Harbaugh’s team will likely be the ‘home team’ of the Cotton Bowl.

Latest college football top 25 rankings

Georgia is not who we thought they were. The best defense in the nation statistically was just sliced apart by Bryce Young and Alabama’s offensive line kept the pocket clean for the Heisman winner. Unable to make Young uncomfortable, everyone watched the Bulldogs’ secondary get torn to shreds. As for the offense, it’s clear Stetson Bennett isn’t the caliber of quarterback who can push a team to a national championship.

With that said, Georgia shouldn’t be knocked out of the College Football Playoff. One loss doesn’t wipe away one of the most impressive regular-season runs in recent memory.

Check back Monday for our Cotton Bowl preview, examining stats that will determine the winner.

Final College Football Playoff rankings

  • 5. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (11-1)
  • 6. Ohio State Buckeyes (10-2)

When are the College Football Playoff rankings released?

NCAA Football: College Football Playoff National Championship-Clemson vs Louisiana State
Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

The College Football Playoff selection show airs every Tuesday on ESPN, typically at 7 p.m. EST. Here are the dates for when the latest playoff rankings are released.

  • Nov. 2, 7 p.m.
  • Nov. 9, 9 p.m. – Championship Classic impacts release time
  • Nov. 16, 7 p.m.
  • Nov. 23. 7 p.m.
  • Nov. 30, 7 p.m.
  • Sunday, Dec. 5, 12 p.m. – College Football Playoff Selection Day

College Football bowl projections

NCAA Football: Rose Bowl-Notre Dame vs Alabama
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The semifinal for the College Football Playoffs will take place on Dec. 31 with the Orange Bowl and Cotton Bowl hosting the two matchups. Our college football bowl projections are based on our college football rankings and the committee’s playoff rankings.

College Football Playoffs outlook:

  • Orange Bowl: No. 1 Alabama vs No. 4 Cincinnati
  • Cotton Bowl: No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 3 Georgia

New Year’s Six bowl game projections:

Teams who miss out on the CFB Playoff semifinals are assigned by the committee to the New Year’s Six games.

  • Peach Bowl (Dec. 30): Pittsburgh vs. Oklahoma State
  • Rose Bowl (Jan. 1, 2022): Ohio State vs. Utah
  • Sugar Bowl (Jan. 1, 2022): Michigan State vs. Ole Miss
  • Fiesta Bowl (Jan. 1, 2022): Baylor vs. Notre Dame

College Football Playoffs schedule: When are the CFB Playoffs?

NCAA Football: Big Ten Conference Media Days
Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

The 2022 College Football Playoffs begin on New Year’s Eve. Here is the schedule for the CBF Playoff seminal and the national championship.

  • Cotton Bowl (CFP Playoff Semifinal): Friday, Dec. 31, 3:30 or 7:30 PM EST
  • Orange Bowl (CFP Playoff Semifinal): Friday, Dec. 31, 3:30 or 7:30 PM EST
  • College Football Playoff National Championship Game: Monday, Jan. 10, 2022, at 8 p.m. EST on ESPN

Where will the College Football playoffs national championship be played?

The national championship will be hosted at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana.