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Nick Saban on Cincinnati: ‘There’s No Doubt They Belonged in the Playoff’

There were many on the internet debating whether or not Cincinnati belonged in the College Football Playoff after its 27–6 loss against Alabama on Friday in the Cotton Bowl Classic.

The Bearcats (13–1), the fourth seed and first Group of 5 team to make the playoff final four, were the nation’s only undefeated team before Friday.

Alabama coach Nick Saban, who led the Crimson Tide to their sixth straight semifinal win, was not one of the doubters, however.


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In addition to making Group of 5 history, Cincinnati’s overall record is impressive considering Friday’s loss was just its second in two seasons—both coming in their final games. In last year’s Peach Bowl, the Bearcats lost on a last-second field goal against Georgia, 24–21.

Their breakthrough into the playoff this season was boosted by a victory against Notre Dame in early October. Notre Dame, which lost 31–14 against Alabama in last year’s CFP semifinal, didn’t lose again this season, but finished fifth in the CFP rankings.

“Obviously this is gut-wrenching and really, really difficult for everybody, but most importantly for the 30 or so seniors that have brought this program and this team so far,” Bearcats coach Luke Fickell said postgame.

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