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History made: UC secures spot in College Football Playoff

First non-Power 5 conference team ever in CFP
AAC Championship Football
Posted at 12:22 PM, Dec 05, 2021

CINCINNATI — History made: The University of Cincinnati Bearcats are the first non-power conference team to secure a spot in the College Football Playoff, marking them as one of the four best teams in the country and giving them a shot at the National Championship.

The team will play No. 1 Alabama in Dallas at AT&T Stadium at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, December 31. The game will air on ESPN.

UC proved its worthiness of the selection by completing an undefeated season with a convincing victory over Number 21 Houston in the AAC Championship game Saturday.

The Bearcats also beat a top-ranked Notre Dame earlier in the season, at South Bend, which showed the team could compete with the best in the country. The College Football Playoff selection committee was hesitant at first, leaving UC off the top 4 rankings for several weeks as the season wound down. But as the chips fell around them, UC took care of business to make an undeniable case to be included in Sunday's final rankings.

"There were a a lot of teams that had a very small percent chance of getting into a 4 team playoff and we're happy to be one of them," Coach Fickell said. "Maybe that's because of the conference and it hasn't been done, but nonetheless it's us. We're not carrying a flag for anyone but the UC Bearcats, our community, our campus, our university, and our city."

On the other side of the bracket, Michigan will play Georgia in Miami. The winner of both games plays for the National Championship. UC's football program has never won a national championship.

The Bearcats began this hot streak last season when it went 9-0 in a COVID-19 shortened regular season. The team's only loss was to Georgia in a tight 24-21 Peach Bowl that showed UC could compete with the top teams in the country.

Making the playoff is an exclamation point for the Bearcats before they move into a power conference next year when the team joins the Big 12. Oklahoma was the only previous team from the Big 12 to make the playoffs, but the Sooners will be leaving for the SEC, making UC the only Big 12 team to have ever been to the playoff.