CFP semifinals: Cincinnati ready to challenge ‘champs’ Alabama; Michigan and Georgia look to end lengthy National Championship droughts

Later Georgia will look to bounce back from a loss in the SEC Championship in their semi against No. 2 Michigan in the Capital One Orange Bowl.

Cotton Bowl: No. 1 Alabama vs No. 4 Cincinnati

Alabama head coach Nick Saban and the top-ranked Crimson Tide are seeking to capture back-to-back National Championships and the school’s fifth since 2015, but in order to do so they’ll have to defeat CFP newcomers Cincinnati.

The Bearcats became the first school outside the Power 5 to clinch a spot in the four-team CFP, after finishing the regular season 13-0, and having only one loss in the team’s past 24 games.

Despite being considered a David vs. Goliath match, Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell said he’s looking forward to the challenge as underdog. “This isn’t a team that wants to ride the, ‘Hey, let’s shock the world’ or do anything like that,” said Fickell.

“We understand that it’s a larger challenge than maybe anything we’ve faced in the past, meaning a team that obviously has been in playoffs seven times and, as we refer to, the champs.”

Meanwhile Saban isn’t looking past Cincinnati saying he thinks they’re “as good a team we’ve played all year.”

The Cotton Bowl is scheduled to start at 3:30 p.m ET on ESPN.

Orange Bowl: No. 3 Georgia vs No. 2 Michigan

Georgia’s powerful defense will take the stage against Michigan’s elite offensive line as both teams look to end lengthy National Championship droughts.

After losing their first game of the season in the SEC Championship, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart called the defeat to Alabama “a little bit of an awakening for our guys” adding “you grow probably the most you grow in a year after a loss.”

The Bulldogs are looking to win the school’s first National Championship title since 1980.

Michigan, meanwhile, haven’t won a national title since 1997 and go into Friday’s seminal as the first school ever to clinch a spot in the CFP after entering the season unranked in the AP Poll top 25.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said he’s keeping his team’s approach to the game the same it’s been all year.

“We’re going into our 14th game that counts,” said Harbaugh. “Our guys have done a tremendous job each day, making each day matter, and then when they get to the games, they’ve made those days count.

“They’ve been quite successful doing it. We’ll continue the same formula, which is to strive to have great days. We’re going to do that today, have great meetings. We’ll have a really good walk-through, strive to have that, and then get the energy up and go play the game.”

The Orange Bowl is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m ET on ESPN.

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