College Football Playoff Selection Show – Instant Insight from ESPN Analysts about the CFP Semifinals and the New Year’s Six

College Football

College Football Playoff Selection Show – Instant Insight from ESPN Analysts about the CFP Semifinals and the New Year’s Six

ESPN exclusively revealed the College Football Playoff Selection Committee’s four playoff teams at 12:15 p.m. ET and the full New Year’s Six at 2:30 p.m. on the College Football Playoff Selection Show Presented by AT&T 5G, with host Rece Davis and analysts Kirk HerbstreitJoey GallowayJesse Palmer and David Pollack. Lead ESPN college football play-by-play commentator Chris Fowler also joined the first 90 minutes of the show.

The following are instant reaction quotes:

On No. 1 Alabama:

  • Palmer: “You score 41 points against that Georgia defense that we said was generational. You do it with a backup center and John Metchie out in the second half, to me that was enough as a statement. I know they haven’t been as consistently dominant throughout the year, but to me, [the Georgia win] puts Bama at 1.”

On No. 2 Michigan:

  • Galloway: “Josh Gattis has been different with this offense this season. In past seasons, it has been like, ‘where is the creativity?’ It’s three yards, cloud of dust, try to get it done. If they are the bigger, stronger team, they win. If they’re not, they lose. They’ve been different offensively and Cade McNamara is a different quarterback now. While I do expect Alabama to be No. 1, but Michigan is impressive with where they are now compared to where they were.”
  • Herbstreit: “Michigan is trending in a direction where they are playing their best football right now, and that win against Ohio State has created even more belief and more confidence. … Michigan is a very dangerous team in this group.”
  • Pollack: “When you think about the shift for Michigan, the craziness… Harbaugh hires all these younger coaches, brings in a new defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald, they’re not as predictable as they’ve been in the past. It gives them a chance to shine. Michigan’s defense is playing as well as anyone in the country. 

On No. 3 Georgia:

  • Galloway: “Georgia is a more dangerous team now after losing a game and having a chance to finally go back to the drawing board and say, ‘hey, we’re not as great as we thought we were. Let’s fix some things and be a better football team.’”
  • Palmer: “They probably feel a little bit disrespected. A lot of players in that locker room probably feel like they should have only dropped down one spot. A lot of motivation for the Georgia Bulldogs getting ready to face off against [the No. 2 team].”

On No. 4 Cincinnati: 

  • Herbstreit: “Luke Fickell, his team and their defense that has a lot of experience, they’re going to hear for a month, ‘there’s no way they match up with Alabama.’ It’ll create a lot of incentive and a very angry defense that takes the field. … They’ve got some guys that can play.”
  • Fowler: “Luke Fickell, you expect him to have those blinders on. Coaches live in bubbles. We don’t and [we] know the significance of this moment in the history of the sport. They have been carrying a flag for all the Group of 5 teams, all the outsiders, for all the people who have talked about inclusivity in this four-team bracket. Cincinnati has kicked their way in and it took a lot to get there.”

ESPN’s exclusive Selection Day programming continued with the announcement of the New Year’s Six matchups, featuring additional analysis and insight from ESPN analysts: 

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl: No. 10 Michigan State vs. No. 12 Pittsburgh 

  • Galloway: “How about this matchup? This could be two different teams right here. Pitt coming in having to throw the ball; Michigan State running the football. This is going to be an interesting game.” 
  • Herbstreit: “Kenny Pickett may put up some monster numbers.” 
  • Palmer: “That offense with [Jordan] Addison and [Taysir] Mack and [Jared] Wayne at receiver… we talk a lot about how good Ohio State is with their starting three. Pitt is pretty good, too. And one thing Michigan State has struggled with this year is their pass defense.” 

PlayStation Fiesta Bowl: No. 5 Notre Dame vs. No. 9 Oklahoma State 

  • Herbstreit: “All the things that have happened over the last week — Notre Dame’s coaching situation with Brian Kelly to where it ended with Marcus Freeman, that team is now bonded more than they’ve ever been. It’s us against the world. … This game is more about Notre Dame and the intensity they’re going to show up with.” 
  • Palmer: “Keeping Tommy Rees on as offensive coordinator is a big move. Jack Coan has looked a lot better at quarterback the rest of this year. But if Spencer Sanders can take care of the football and not turn it over, the Pokes [have] got a shot.” 
  • Davis: “If Marcus Freeman leads Notre Dame to a win in a bowl game of this level, when they’re 0-7 in New Year’s Six bowls since 1998 and losing by an average of 23 points per game, that will do more to ingratiate him than anything else he could possibly do.” 

Rose Bowl Game presented by Capital One Venture X: No. 6 Ohio State vs. No. 11 Utah 

  • Galloway: “The other question is who’s playing for Ohio State? I think that is what we will have to pay attention to is does [Chris] Olave play? Does Garrett Wilson play? They have some questions… In this situation, if you’re those two guys who have a chance to be in the first round… now believe me, we’ve had this argument before, I don’t believe in this way of thinking, but I would be surprised if Ohio State comes in fully tooled.” 
  • Herbstreit: “Utah has never been, and their fan base and their team is elated. They may bring 40 or 50,000 people to Pasadena.” 
  • Pollack: Utah will bring the physicality; Ohio State better do the same. 
  • Palmer: “The Utah offense since Cameron Rising took over as quarterback, losing to BYU and San Diego State earlier in the year, they made that change and offense looked completely different. All the creative things they do, those tight ends, it’s going to give Ohio State’s defense a lot of problems.” 

Allstate Sugar Bowl: No. 7 Baylor vs. No. 8 Ole Miss 

  • Herbstreit: “You brought up the name Jeff Lebby, we’ll see what happens with Brent Venables. If that ends up happening, what happens in that game? Lane Kiffin is more than qualified but not in that offense. Lane would be the first one to tell you, how these guys call the game so fast, it’s mind-boggling to him.” 
  • Palmer: “Who’s playing quarterback for Baylor in this game? Is Gerry Bohanon going to be healthy? And if he can’t go, Blake Shapen has looked really good these past few games as a true freshman.” 

ESPN’s full postseason programming schedule and on-air commentators will be announced on Wednesday, Dec. 8.

College Football Playoff Semifinals and New Year’s Six Bowl Games: 

Date Time (ET) Bowl Network
Thu, Dec 30  7 p.m.  Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
Mercedes-Benz Stadium (Atlanta, Ga.)
No. 10 Michigan State vs. No. 12 Pittsburgh 
Fri, Dec 31  3:30 p.m.   College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic
AT&T Stadium (Arlington, Texas)
No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Cincinnati 
   7:30 p.m.   College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Capital One Orange Bowl 
Hard Rock Stadium (Miami Gardens, Fla.)
No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 3 Georgia  
Sat, Jan 1   1 p.m.  PlayStation Fiesta Bowl 
State Farm Stadium (Glendale, Ariz.)
No. 5 Notre Dame vs. No. 9 Oklahoma State 
  5 p.m.  Rose Bowl Game presented by Capital One Venture X 
Rose Bowl Stadium (Pasadena, Calif.)
No. 6 Ohio State vs. No. 11 Utah  
  8:45 p.m.  Allstate Sugar Bowl 
Caesars Superdome (New Orleans, La.)
No. 7 Baylor vs. No. 8 Ole Miss 


Amanda Brooks

Amanda is the Senior Director of Communications overseeing publicity strategy for ESPN’s entire college sports portfolio, including college football and the College Football Playoff, 40 NCAA Championships and ESPN's college networks. Amanda is a proud alum of Hendrix College in Conway, Ark., and earned her master's in ethics from Vanderbilt University. A native of Kent, Ohio, she is a die-hard Cleveland Guardians fan.
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