Georgia, Michigan, TCU and Ohio State will play for the national championship after Sunday’s College Football Playoff selection.
After not playing in the conference championship game, the Buckeyes (11-1) moved up one spot following Friday’s loss to USC in the Pac-12 title game to give the Big Ten two playoff teams for the first time in the nine-year history of the format. .
No. 4 Ohio State will face No. 1 Georgia in the Chick-fil-A Beach Bowl, and No. 2 Michigan will face No. 3 TCU on Dec. 31 in the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl.
The CFP National Championship presented by AT&T will be held on January 9 at Sophie Stadium in Inglewood, California.
Georgia Caesars opened as a 7-point favorite over Ohio State at the sportsbook, and Michigan was a 9-point favorite over TCU.
After an overtime loss in the Big 12 championship game to Kansas State, TCU (12-1) lost its No. 3 retained the rank. The Horned Frogs and Buckeyes are the fifth and sixth teams to make the College Football Playoff without winning a conference title.
Horned Frogs coach Sonny Dykes said he was worried about his team’s playoff position after the loss, but said he had confidence in the selection committee.
“I think we definitely deserved it,” Dykes said.
At a viewing party for TCU players and staff on the Fort Worth, Texas campus, cheers erupted as the Frogs stepped into the bracket during the announcement ceremony.
Alabama (10-2) hoped to move into the top four following losses to USC and TCU, coach Nick Saban lobbied for his team on Saturday.
“If we play any of those teams that we’re on the brink of getting in, are we underdogs or favorites?” Saban said on Fox at halftime of the Big Ten Championship.
The Crimson Tide was ranked fifth by the selection committee.
Committee chairman Boo Corrigan, NC State’s athletic director, said Ohio State’s big wins over Penn State and Notre Dame helped push the Buckeyes over Alabama.
“When we looked at the overall jobs, the team was comfortable with Ohio State at No. 4 and Alabama at No. 5,” Corrigan said in an interview on ESPN.
Georgia (13-0) and Michigan (13-0) made the playoffs for the second straight year. They easily won their respective conference title games Saturday and will become the fourth team to win the CFP with an undefeated record.
The only time Georgia and Ohio State had played before was in the 1992 Citrus Bowl, a 21-14 Bulldogs win. TCU, which won the national title in 1938, had never played at Michigan.
Corrigan said the team made no special effort to avoid a rematch with Ohio State and Michigan in the semifinals. The Buckeyes and Wolverines had never played outside of their annual regular season game during the rivalry dating back to 1902.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.