College Football Playoff: Matchups, times & what to know

The winners of each semifinal will meet in the national championship

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The College Football Playoff will kickoff on New Year’s Eve and the winners of each game will meet next month in the national championship.

No. 1 Alabama will play No. 4 Cincinnati and No. 2 Michigan will play No. 3 Georgia. The winners will meet in Indianapolis for the national title.

Alabama was on the ropes of even making the playoff this season after losing to Texas A&M during the year and entering the SEC title game against Georgia. Alabama defeated Georgia behind a 421-yard, three-touchdown passing performance from quarterback Bryce Young.'

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FILE - Alabama quarterback Bryce Young (9) works against Georgia during the second half of the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game Dec. 4, 2021, in Atlanta.

FILE - Alabama quarterback Bryce Young (9) works against Georgia during the second half of the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game Dec. 4, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)

Nick Saban talked about the team’s mindset on Thursday.

"You never really know. I can sit here and tell you that I can tell or can’t tell. There’s been games when I was concerned that we had the right mindset and went out and played well. And there’s been games where I thought we were really ready to play and we didn’t play very well," he said, via AL.com.

"You really never know until you get out there on the field and kind of start the game and see the look in their eye and how focused and how important it is for everybody to maintain intensity."

Cincinnati became the first Group of Five team to make the College Football Playoff. The Bearcats finished the season undefeated and have a win over Notre Dame to compliment their resume.

FILE - Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder (9) looks to pass from the pocket during the first half of the American Athletic Conference championship NCAA college football game against Houston Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, in Cincinnati.

FILE - Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder (9) looks to pass from the pocket during the first half of the American Athletic Conference championship NCAA college football game against Houston Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean, File)

Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell was asked about the message to his team.

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"Hey, these are the champs, and to beat the champs, you’re going to have to play your best," he said, via FOX 19.

Alabama (12-1) and Cincinnati (13-0) will meet in the Cotton Bowl Classic at 3:30 p.m. ET.

On the other side, Michigan will meet Georgia in the Orange Bowl at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Michigan finally broke through and won the Big Ten Championship and will enter the College Football Playoff for the first time. Jim Harbaugh rallied his team to a conference title after a loss to Michigan State.

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh celebrates with his team after the Big Ten championship NCAA college football game against Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, in Indianapolis. Michigan won 42-3.

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh celebrates with his team after the Big Ten championship NCAA college football game against Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, in Indianapolis. Michigan won 42-3. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

Harbaugh noted there was a different buzz around this team.

"I feel like the buzz -- created some new buzz with this 2021 team. eah, let’s face it, it had died down a little bit, and I do feel like our guys have created some new buzz, and it’s been a good thing," Harbaugh said.

Georgia will get in even after losing to Alabama in the SEC title game. The Bulldogs dominated just about every opponent they faced and were No. 1 in the AP rankings most of the season.

Georgia’s defense looked dominant until it was exposed by the Crimson Tide. Georgia coach Kirby Smart will have to refocus the team and get set for a run to the national championship. The Bulldogs made the playoff once before and eventually lost to Alabama in the national championship.

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart yells to his players during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Tennessee, Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021, in Knoxville, Tenn.

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart yells to his players during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Tennessee, Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

The Bulldogs got into the playoff despite the loss to Alabama. Smart touched on the team bouncing back from the SEC Championship loss.

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"Don’t be judgmental. Don’t say things: ‘If you do this and if you do that, you’re going to get your butt beat,’" Smart said.

The national championship will take place on Jan. 10.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.