Georgia gets Ohio State, Michigan faces TCU in CFP semis
The CFP field represents a return for the Bulldogs and Wolverines after they faced off in the semis last year, while the Buckeyes are back after a one-year absence from the final four. The Horned Frogs find themselves in the semis for the first time in program history despite losing the Big 12 title game in overtime Saturday.
USC's loss Friday in the Pac-12 title game removed most of the drama from Saturday's contests, with Georgia, Michigan and TCU likely locked into their spots regardless of their outcomes. Only the Horned Frogs fell, with the Bulldogs and Wolverines posting wins by at least 20 points.
Ohio State's last game was a blowout home loss to the rival Wolverines, but Ryan Day's program still found itself in the semis thanks in large part to wins this season over Notre Dame and Penn State. Ohio State's inclusion marks the first time a conference other than the SEC has two teams in the semis.
Alabama narrowly missed out at No. 5; it's only the second time in CFP history that the Crimson Tide won't be a part of the semifinals. Tennessee rounded out the top six in the final CFP rankings.
Here's a look at how the semifinal combatants match up:
Peach Bowl: No. 1 Georgia vs. No. 4 Ohio State
Team: No. 1 Georgia
Conference champions: Yes
Average scoring margin: 26.3 points
Opponents' combined record: 94-63
Points per game: 39.2 (11th nationally)
Points allowed per game: 12.8 (2nd nationally)
Best wins: 49-3 vs. Oregon, 27-13 vs. Tennessee, 50-30 vs. LSU
Team: No. 4 Ohio State
Conference champions: No
Average scoring margin: 25.25 points
Opponents' combined record: 76-70
Points per game: 44.5 (2nd nationally)
Points allowed per game: 19.3 (13th nationally)
Best wins: 21-10 vs. Notre Dame, 44-31 at Penn State
Defending champion Georgia rolls into another CFP as the overwhelming favorite to win the title again. The Bulldogs ran wild throughout the season to pile up a perfect 13-0 record and win their first SEC title since 2017. Despite losing 15 players to the NFL draft and five defensive stars in the first round, Kirby Smart once again compiled arguably the deepest roster in the country.
The Bulldogs were rarely tested this season, with an October road trip to Missouri representing the only one-score contest on the schedule. Stetson Bennett once again distributes the ball well on the offensive side, utilizing weapons like Brock Bowers, Ladd McConkey, and Darnell Washington in the passing attack.
The defense has stars all over the field but none shine brighter than Jalen Carter on the line. The projected top-five pick in the upcoming NFL draft has been a menace all season long and should be a major challenge for the Buckeyes' offensive line.
Ohio State backs in to the playoff after an embarrassing home loss to Michigan in the final contest of the regular season. The Buckeyes were outscored 28-3 in the second half by the Wolverines and looked to have their CFP hopes squashed in the process. But Ryan Day was tossed a lifeline after USC fell to Utah in the Pac-12 championship, and now Ohio State has a chance to make a run for the title from the No. 4 slot like it did in 2014.
The offense is among the best in the country, with C.J. Stroud easily one of the best quarterbacks in the nation. A wide array of weapons is at his disposal, with breakout star Marvin Harrison Jr. highlighting the list. If last year's star Jaxon Smith-Njigba can return from injury for the semifinal, the Buckeyes could be a handful to slow down.
Fiesta Bowl: No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 3 TCU
Team: No. 2 Michigan
Conference champions: Yes
Average scoring margin: 26.6 points
Opponents' combined record: 80-78
Points per game: 40.1 (7th nationally)
Points allowed per game: 13.4 (5th nationally)
Best wins: 41-17 vs. Penn State, 45-23 at Ohio State
Team: No. 3 TCU
Conference champions: No
Average scoring margin: 15.3 points
Opponents' combined record: 83-75
Points per game: 40.3 (6th nationally)
Points allowed per game: 25 (57th nationally)
Best wins: 38-28 vs. Kansas State, 17-10 at Texas
Michigan finds itself in the No. 2 slot of the final CFP rankings for the second straight season. However, this year brings a much more comfortable bowl matchup with TCU lined up instead of Georgia.
Jim Harbaugh built upon last year's brilliant performance and turned in the first 13-0 season in Wolverines' history, highlighted by a 22-point blowout of rival Ohio State in Columbus. Quarterback J.J. McCarthy's emergence as a passer over the final stretch of the season has been a revelation and makes the Big Ten champions a very dangerous out.
Despite losing a number of stars to the NFL draft, the Wolverines are once again a dominant unit on defense, ranking fifth in the nation allowing just over 13 points per contest. The second-half performance in the win over Ohio State was one of the best showings by a defensive unit this season.
TCU becomes the second team in the history of the CFP to make the semis after not being ranked in the preseason AP poll, joining the Wolverines from last year in that distinction. The Horned Frogs had one of the most dramatic seasons in the sport, registering seven different comeback wins en route to a 12-1 record.
Sonny Dykes' first season with the program transformed the offense, with the team utilizing explosive plays to run it up. TCU led the nation with 19 plays over 50 yards on the season and ranked sixth in scoring at 40 points per game. Quentin Johnston leads one of the top receiving corps in the country, giving quarterback Max Duggan endless options in the passing attack. Add in star running back Kendre Miller and it's easy to see why the Horned Frogs have created problems all season.