The football turbulence strewn across recent months yielded to a breezy choice of four teams Sunday for the eighth College Football Playoff. Arranging the four proved the only brainteaser.

Alabama, Michigan, Georgia and Cincinnati won bids Sunday when the 13-member selection committee issued its final findings after its six weekly meetings in Grapevine, Tex. The teams appeared in that order, meaning No. 1 Alabama (12-1) will play No. 4 Cincinnati (13-0) in one semifinal at the Cotton Bowl on New Year’s Eve at 3:30 p.m., and No. 2 Michigan (12-1) will play No. 3 Georgia (12-1) in the other at the Orange Bowl, also on New Year’s Eve, at 7:30 p.m.

In the other major bowls, announced Sunday afternoon, No. 5 Notre Dame (11-1) will play No. 9 Oklahoma State (11-2) in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1, the debut for 35-year-old Notre Dame Coach Marcus Freeman; No. 6 Ohio State (10-2) will play No. 11 Utah (10-3) in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1; No. 7 Baylor (11-2) will play No. 8 Mississippi (10-2) in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1; and No. 10 Michigan State (10-2) will play No. 12 Pittsburgh (11-2) in the Peach Bowl on Dec. 30.

Alabama hogged its seventh playoff berth in eight seasons — alongside Georgia’s second, Michigan’s first and Cincinnati’s first — and became a No. 1 seed for a whopping fifth time, right after Alabama and Michigan spent Saturday besetting the committee with a tricky choice for No. 1. That’s because Alabama shocked and throttled then-No. 1 Georgia, 41-24, in the SEC championship game and Michigan mauled Iowa, 42-3, in the Big Ten championship game. The Crimson Tide had defeated three teams certain to be ranked in the closing top 25 — Georgia, Mississippi and Arkansas — while the Wolverines had beaten two — Ohio State and Iowa.

“Let’s begin with the game that was played last night,” committee chairman Gary Barta, the athletic director at Iowa, said on ESPN, referring to the SEC championship. “Not only did Alabama beat Georgia, but the way they beat them, the complete victory over Georgia — the committee came out of that with a strong consensus that Alabama was number one and Michigan was number two.”

Notably, Cincinnati lived a dream often deemed impossible in a sport long heavy on snobbery from its moneyed kingdoms. The Bearcats became the first team from the Group of Five, the less-wealthy sector of the 130-team Football Bowl Subdivision, to gain permission for a playoff spot, and they did so by fulfilling the only viable formula for such underlings with their eternally challenged strengths of schedule. They went unbeaten as of their 35-20 win Saturday over then-No. 21 Houston in the American Athletic Conference championship game, and they pelted a tiptop Power Five team along the way — in this case Notre Dame, on the road, on Oct. 2.

Notre Dame proceeded to flatter Cincinnati after that, winning out to finish just outside the playoff. Ohio State, No. 2 until its 42-27 decking at Michigan on Nov. 27, finished No. 6, a bit of a surprise given that on Saturday, Baylor avenged one of its two defeats by beating Oklahoma State in the Big 12 championship game. It ended up at No. 7.

Three of the five Power Five conferences — the ACC, the Big 12 and the Pac-12 — did not receive a berth, the most to have gone excluded in the eight years. That should help escalate cries for playoff expansion.

The semifinals will boast fresh matchups. Alabama has not played Cincinnati since November 1990, when the Crimson Tide in Gene Stallings’s first season won, 45-7, over a Bearcats team coached by Tim Murphy, who just went 8-2 in his 28th season at Harvard. Alabama has won all five previous meetings. Michigan and Georgia have not met since 1965, when Georgia, in Vince Dooley’s second season, claimed an unexpected 15-7 win at Ann Arbor to stand 1-1 in that all-time non-series.

Alabama vs. Cincinnati will present a highbrow bout between Alabama’s renowned institution of future NFL wideouts and Cincinnati’s phenomenal secondary, which includes NFL-bound corner Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, toward whom teams barely dare to throw.

“We certainly think Cincinnati belongs in the playoffs, and they’re a really good team,” Alabama Coach Nick Saban said on ESPN, adding that his wide receivers did incur a major blow with John Metchie III’s knee injury from Saturday, which, Saban said, appears to be “significant.”

Fifth-year Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell, who won a 2014 national championship as defensive coordinator at Ohio State, his alma mater, imagined his players would “be kind of excited to put the shoe on the other foot [as an underdog] from what they’ve had this year,” as a chronic favorite trying to refrain from thinking about having to “carry the flag” for an entire tier of programs.

Michigan vs. Georgia will present a dominant rugged team (Georgia) trying to recover from a stunning thumping and an ascendant rugged team (Michigan) trying to sustain a sudden mastery of huge games. It will have seventh-year Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, who came in loudly in 2015 before going quiet before reemerging, and who keeps reeling off players’ and coaches’ names as he extols them and says of his team, as on ESPN, “I never have to try to talk them into something.”

And it will have sixth-year Georgia coach Kirby Smart, still trying to climb the Alabama hurdle that has clipped him four times in various galling ways since he left Alabama for Georgia after 2015, and who said on ESPN, “To see those men in that locker room last night after the game gave me great confidence.”

The committee, composed this year of eight athletic directors, one former longtime college football coach, three former college football stars and one media representative, also had “a strong consensus that Cincinnati comes in at number four,” Barta said. The ease of that decision deepened when Oklahoma State, No. 5 last week, lost by about an inch or so against Baylor, whose sixth-year safety Jairon McVea made arguably the best play of the national season on a fourth down from the Baylor 1-yard line with 24 seconds left in a 21-16 game. He chased running back Dezmon Jackson to the sideline from a difficult angle, creating just enough obstruction to make Jackson stop barely shy of the left pylon.

Georgia became just the fourth team to make the playoff after not winning a conference in which it played (after Ohio State in 2016, Alabama in 2017 and Notre Dame in 2020) and the second to make the playoff after losing a conference championship game (after Notre Dame in 2020). Notre Dame also made the playoff as an independent, its normal habitat, in 2018.

The inaugural berth for Michigan ratified a dizzying recent ascent.

Just two opening kickoffs ago, the Wolverines seemed primed for a top-10 finish, a non-playoff New Year’s Six bowl berth and some pats on the head — at least to most everyone outside their locker room. As of their manhandling of Ohio State on Nov. 27 and their mauling of Iowa on Saturday in the Big Ten championship game, they seem primed for just about anything. They became the first team to reach the playoff after outright exclusion from the preseason Associated Press poll.