Alabama earns No. 1 seed in College Football Playoff, will face No. 4 Cincinnati in the Cotton Bowl
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Alabama earns No. 1 seed, will face No. 4 Cincinnati in the Cotton Bowl

Alabama’s attempt to repeat as national champions will continue as the nation’s top team. Following its 41-24 victory over Georgia in the SEC Championship Game, the Crimson Tide was named the No. 1 seed in this season’s College Football Playoff. No. 1 Alabama will begin its postseason run against No. 4 Cincinnati in the Cotton Bowl on Dec. 31 at 2:30 p.m. CT while No. 2 Michigan will take on No. 3 Georgia in the Orange Bowl at 6:30 p.m. on the same day.

The winners of both semifinal games will meet Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium for the national championship game on Jan. 10.

Alabama (12-1) and Cincinnati (13-0) have met on the football field five previous times with the Tide winning each matchup. The last meeting between the two schools occurred in 1990 when Alabama recorded a 45-7 win inside Birmingham’s Legion Field.

Cincinnati is the first Group of 5 team to reach the playoff since it was established in 2014. The Bearcats beat Houston 35-20 in the AAC Championship Game on Saturday to secure its spot.

This year’s Cincinnati team features a familiar face in former Alabama running back Jerome Ford, who is in his second season with the Bearcats. Ford has 1,243 yards and ranks tied for sixth in the nation with 19 touchdowns through 12 games. He is averaging 6.22 yards per carry. Cincinnati is also led by quarterback Desmond Ridder who has completed 65.9% of his passes for 3,190 yards and 30 touchdowns with eight interceptions while adding 361 yards and six more scores on the ground.

The Bearcats are tied for fourth in the nation in scoring defense, allowing opponents just 16.1 points per game. They also rank seventh in total defense (305.8 yards allowed per game) and second in pass defense (168.3 yapg).

This will be Alabama’s ninth trip to the Cotton Bowl. The Tide 4-4 all-time in the bowl with its most recent appearance coming in a 38-0 victory over Michigan State as part of the College Football Playoff during the 2015 season. Cincinnati has never played in a Cotton Bowl.

Alabama has advanced to the College Football Playoff in all but one of its eight years of existence, missing out during the 2019 season. This is the fifth time the Tide has been the No. 1 team in the playoff.

Alabama is looking to repeat as national champions this year after capping off an undefeated season with a victory over Ohio State in last year’s College Football Playoff National Championship Game. No team has repeated as national champions in the playoff era.

“We have a two-game season now, I hope," Alabama head coach Nick Saban said following the Tide’s win over Georgia Saturday night. "That's what we're going to work for. That's what we want to do. These players have worked hard all year long. I think they deserved a lot of respect for what they've been able to accomplish and what they've been able to do.”

Alabama Crimson Tide receiver Jameson Williams. Photo | Getty Images
Alabama Crimson Tide receiver Jameson Williams. Photo | Getty Images