College Football Playoff Rankings 2021: Official Committee Poll for Final Week

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVDecember 5, 2021

Alabama head coach Nick Saban waves to fans after the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game between Georgia and Alabama, Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, in Atlanta. Alabama won 41-24. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
AP Photo/Brynn Anderson

Alabama is the reigning national champion and destroyed previously undefeated Georgia in stunning fashion in Saturday's SEC Championship Game to clinch its spot in the College Football Playoff, and somehow that wasn't even the biggest storyline heading into Sunday's reveal of the four-team field.

After all, Cincinnati made history.

The Bearcats became the first Group of Five conference team to make the CFP when the field was announced Sunday. They will be joined by Alabama, Georgia and Michigan in the chase for college football's ultimate prize:

1. Alabama

2. Michigan

3. Georgia

4. Cincinnati

5. Notre Dame

6. Ohio State

That means the Crimson Tide will face the Bearcats in one semifinal showdown at the Cotton Bowl, while the Wolverines will play the Bulldogs in the other at the Orange Bowl, both on New Year's Eve.

Ross Dellenger @RossDellenger

Did committee avoid UGA-Bama rematch or avoid an all-SEC championship?<br><br>Barta: "The answer is no."

Ross Dellenger @RossDellenger

Gary Barta says there was "strong consensus" in Cincinnati at No. 4.

Aaron Suttles @AaronSuttles

Saban on Cincinnati: We think they belong in the Playoff. They beat some really good team. Been very consistent all year long. We have the proper respect (for them).

The rest of the Top 25 was announced later in the day Sunday:

7. Baylor

8. Ole Miss

9. Oklahoma State

10. Michigan State

11. Utah

12. Pittsburgh

13. BYU

14. Oregon

15. Iowa

16. Oklahoma

17. Wake Forest

18. North Carolina State

19. Clemson

20. Houston

21. Arkansas

22. Kentucky

23. Lousiana

24. San Diego State

25. Texas A&M

Whether Cincinnati would complete its quest for the CFP was one of the season's biggest storylines as soon as it stunned Notre Dame in a 24-13 victory on Oct. 2.

It didn't hurt the Bearcats' cause that the Fighting Irish won the rest of their games while playing their way back into the playoff discussion. While the Irish fell short, their bounce-back efforts ensured Cincinnati would have one of the season's most impressive wins.

Head coach Luke Fickell's team also needed plenty of chaos around it.

The ACC, Big 12 and Pac-12 didn't feature a single team with fewer than two losses. That meant typical powerhouses such as Clemson and Oklahoma were afterthoughts in the playoff race.

Oregon remained in the picture longer than the Tigers and Sooners thanks to its September win at Ohio State, but the Ducks' two losses to Utah down the stretch eliminated the Pac-12 as well.

With three of the five Power Five leagues out of the chase, Cincinnati had room to make the field even with the SEC taking half the spots. That became a reality Saturday when Alabama, which looked far more vulnerable than it usually does a number of times this year, beat the previously undisputed No. 1 Bulldogs in convincing fashion.

Perhaps a season that has been anything but typical will end in the familiar scene of Nick Saban holding up the national championship trophy, but the Crimson Tide may have to defeat Georgia again.

And then there is Michigan, which is a traditional powerhouse but had fallen off in recent years thanks largely to the dominance of the rival Buckeyes.

Chris Fallica @chrisfallica

Michigan is the first team to reach the CFP after being unranked in the preseason AP poll.

This year was different, though, as the Wolverines beat Ohio State for the first time in a decade and then parlayed the momentum they created from that into a 42-3 blowout of Iowa in Saturday's Big Ten Championship Game.

That contest put the finishing touches on a four-team field that is largely without controversy and features the reigning champions, a challenger from their own conference, a traditional powerhouse that has rediscovered its winning ways and the ultimate underdog. 

The national title game is set for January 10 in Indianapolis.