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College football semifinals: Georgia vs. Ohio State, Michigan vs. TCU

By Allen Cone
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TJ Guy (42) celebrates as he facetimes after Michigan defeated Purdue 43-22 in the Big Ten Championship in Indianapolis, Ind., on Saturday. Michigan won the Big Ten title the previous year. Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI
TJ Guy (42) celebrates as he facetimes after Michigan defeated Purdue 43-22 in the Big Ten Championship in Indianapolis, Ind., on Saturday. Michigan won the Big Ten title the previous year. Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 4 (UPI) -- The NCAA on Sunday announced the four participants in the NCAA College Football Playoffs with the top two teams unbeaten, No. 1 Georgia and No. 2 Michigan, and the other spots secured by one-loss teams, No. 3 Texas Christian and No. 4 Ohio State.

The semifinals are New Year's Eve. Georgia (13-0), the defending champion, will face Ohio State (11-1) on Dec. 31 in the Peach Bowl in Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, just 72 miles from its home Athens campus. Michigan (13-0) will travel across the country to Arizona for the Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium in Glendale against TCU (11-1).

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The national championship will be played Jan. 9 at SOFI Stadium in Inglewood, Calif.

Missing out on the playoffs were a pair of two-loss teams from the Southeastern Conference, No. 5 Alabama and Tennessee both at 10-2.

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However, they were invited to one of the top six bowl games.

Alabama will face No. 9 Kansas State (10-3) of the Big 12 in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans on Dec. 31.

Tennessee will play No. 7 Clemson (11-2) of the Atlantic Coast Conference, two schools with orange as their predominant collor, fittingly in the Orange Bowl in Miami on Dec. 30. South Carolina beat both of those teams, 63-38 over Tennessee and 31-30 over Clemson. Tennessee also lost to Georgia 27-13.

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The Rose Bowl pits No. 8 Utah (10-3) against No. 11 Penn State (10-2) on Jan. 2 in Pasadena, Calif., in a traditional matchup of the Big Ten and Pac-12 teams. Penn State's only losses were to Ohio State 44-31 and Michigan 41-17, while Utah was beaten by Florida 29-26, UCLA 42-32 and Oregon 20-17.

The Cotton Bowl Classic will be played on Jan. 2 in Dallas between No. 16 Tulane (11-2) of the American Athletic Conference and No. 10 Southern California (11-2) of the Pac-12. Tulane, which has only lost to Souther Miss and Central Florida, is the highest-ranked team not from a power conference: SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12.

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Of the semifinalists, only Michigan and Georgia won their conference titles.

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Michigan defeated Ohio State 45-23 in Columbus on Nov. 26 to advance to the Big Ten championship as the East Division winner. In that game Saturday, Michigan beat Purdue 43-22 in Indianapolis. Purdue ended the regular season at 8-5 and not ranked in the CFB and will play in Orlando against No. 17 Louisiana State (9-4) in the Citrus Bowl on Jan. 2.

On Saturday, Georgia captured the SEC title as the East Division champ, defeating LSU 50-30 in Atlanta.

If Georgia and Michigan, the only unbeaten Division I teams, advance to the final, it will be a rematch of the semifinal at the Orange Bowl, won by the Bulldogs 34-11 last Dec. 31. Those are the only two CFB playoffs appearances by the Wolverines.

Georgia then beat Alabama 33-18 for the national championship at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Jan. 10. It was Georgia first Division I football title since the 1980 season.

Alabama earlier defeated Cincinnati in Dallas on Dec. 31.

Since the four-team setup began in 2014, Alabama has missed out on the games only in 2019-20 with titles in 2015, 2017 and 2020.

The Crimson Tide's losses were on the road to Tennessee 52-49 and to LSU 32-21 in overtime.

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Going into the weekend, the rankings were Georgia followed by Michigan, TCU and USC.

The Horned Frogs kept their third position, despite losing to Kansas State 31-28 in overtime in the Big 12 championhip game in Arlington, Texas. Kansas State's losses were Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Iowa State.

This is will be TCU's first appearance in the semifinals. Oklahoma is the only Big 12 team to previously participate in it: 2015-16, 2017-18, 2018-19, 2019-20 but the Sooners have never won that game.

On Friday, USC lost to Utah 47-24 at the Pac-12 Championship in Las Vegas. The Trojans' only other loss was to Utah, 43-42.

This helped clear the way for the Buckeyes to be invited to the semifinals after trips in 2014-15, 2019-20, 2020-21.

"They have a lot of good players," Georgia coach Kirb Smart said of Ohio State in an interview on ESPN. "Because we recruited some of the same. When make final four, it doesn't matter [the position."

Clemson, a champion in 2016 and 2018, on Saturday won the Atlantic Coast title, beating North Carolina 39-10 in Charlotte, N.C.

A 13-member committee of former coaches and players, current athletic directors and a retired media member decides on the top 25 rankings and top bowl pairings.

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The College Football Playoff will expand from four to 12 teams starting with the 2024/25 season.

In all, 86 teams will play in 43 bowl games. There 125 Division I teams.

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