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How to watch 2021 College Football Playoff

2021 College Football Playoffs
(Image credit: ESPN)

It’s been a busy bowl season for college football, but the main event is the 2021 College Football Playoff semifinals taking place on New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31. Before you start counting down the end of the year, tune in on ESPN for these two exciting matchups to determine who will be playing for the national championship.

The College Football Playoff semifinal games feature Alabama vs Cincinnati and Michigan vs Georgia. First on the docket will be Alabama vs Cincinnati at 3:30 p.m. ET in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Calling the game will be Sean McDonough, Todd Blackledge, Molly McGrath and Laura Rutledge.

Then, Michigan vs Georgia are playing in the Capital One Orange Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, with the kickoff at 7:30 p.m. ET. On the call for that game are Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Holly Rowe and Marty Smith.

Both games will be broadcast on ESPN and ESPN Deportes, as well as have separate radio broadcasts on ESPN Radio.

We have a brief matchup preview of each College Football Playoff semifinal game for you below, but first, here is what you need to know on how to watch the 2021 College Football Playoff.

How to watch the 2021 College Football Playoff in the U.S.

Both of the College Football Playoff games will air on ESPN. The sports cable channel is carried by most traditional cable/satellite pay-TV providers, though doesn't hurt to check that ESPN is available in a particular package. ESPN is also carried by live TV streaming services, including FuboTV, Hulu with Live TV, Sling TV and YouTube TV.

In addition to being able to watch ESPN on your TV through these above options, as a subscriber to any of them viewers can use their login credentials to watch the games through either ESPN.com or the Watch ESPN app.

ESPN will also offer a Spanish-language broadcast of the College Football Playoff semifinal games on ESPN Deportes. Another cable channel that you will need to ensure is included in a traditional pay-TV subscription, ESPN Deportes is also available as a channel on FuboTV, Hulu with Live TV and Sling TV.

The College Football playoffs will not be available for streaming on ESPN’s streaming service, ESPN Plus. However, ESPN Plus will carry special content surrounding the games. A special four-episode docuseries, Inside the College Football Playoff, has premiered its first episode, giving inside looks at Alabama, Michigan, Georgia and Cincinnati preparing for the semifinals. Future episodes will feature all four teams after the semifinals and then the two teams moving on to play in the national championship. Plus, all the College Football Playoff games from previous years are now available to rewatch on ESPN Plus.

How to watch the 2021 College Football Playoffs in the U.K.

College football fans in the U.K. will be able to watch the two semifinals game just as they have been watching college football action all season, on BT Sport. The Alabama vs Cincinnati game will take place at 8:30 p.m. GMT on New Year's Eve, while the Michigan vs Georgia game will kickoff in the early hours of 2022, at 12:30 a.m. GMT on Jan. 1.

BT TV subscribers can add BT Sport to their plan for £10, or consumers can sign up for BT Sport as a standalone service for £25.

How to watch the 2021 College Football Playoffs from anywhere 

Are you somewhere else where the College Football Playoffs are not as readily available? Then you might want to look into getting a VPN, or virtual private network.

A VPN allows you to route all of your internet traffic through a specific set of servers in a specific country. The one caveat here is that you need to be able to trust your VPN provider, because all of your traffic — encrypted as well as unencrypted — is going to be going through that VPN. For that, we've long been fans of ExpressVPN

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ExpressVPN is one of the easiest and affordable ways to watch what you want from anywhere you want to watch it. And it's a great way to keep up with the boxing action from anywhere in the world.

Matchup preview: Alabama vs Cincinnati

Alabama Bryce Young

Alabama's Heisman-winning quarterback Bryce Young (Image credit: Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The defending national champion Alabama Crimson Tide rolled into the College Football Playoffs with a dominant performance over fellow CFP team Georgia in the SEC Championship game. With Heisman winner Bryce Young as their quarterback, the Tide average close to 500 yards of offense per game, which was sixth best in the entire country. The Alabama defense is no slouch either, ranking eighth in the country. And of course, Alabama has Nick Saban as their head coach, one of the best to ever do it in college football.

After an undefeated season, Cincinnati is making their first College Football Playoff appearance (and the first for a team outside of the ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Pac 12 or SEC conferences). The Bearcats are led by their defense, which statistically has outperformed Alabama’s (they rank seventh in the country), which may hopefully provide an enticing matchup against the Tide's high-powered offense. Cincinnati's own offense is not as prolific as Alabama (Bearcats rank 44th on the season), but they do have their own star quarterback in Desmond Ridder and a 1,200 yard rusher in running back Jerome Ford, which leads both teams.

Odds for Alabama vs Cincinnati opened with the Crimson Tide as big 13.5 point favorites.

Matchup preview: Michigan vs Georgia

Michigan Wolverines Blake Corum

Michigan running back Blake Corum (Image credit: Mike Mulholland/Getty Images)

The Michigan vs Georgia game could be an old school slugfest as both schools like to run the ball and are stout on the defensive side of the ball.

Jim Harbaugh and Michigan finally slayed their Ohio State dragon and have found themselves in their first College Football Playoff. The maize and blue feature a dynamic running back duo of Hassan Haskins and Blake Corum, who together rushed for more than 2,200 combined rushing yards (Haskins accounting for nearly 1,300 of that) to pace the 10th ranked rushing offense in the country. However, Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara has grown in confidence throughout the season, so he could be a player to watch in the game.

Coming off their disappointing SEC Championship game performance, Georgia is going to be looking for some revenge, particularly the defense. After allowing 41 points to Alabama (no other team had scored more than 17 in a game this season), the second overall-ranked Georgia defense will want to reaffirm their standing on the national stage. They certainly want to keep the game low scoring, so as to ensure the Georgia offense, which like Michigan is best suited for running the ball, doesn’t need to go out and win the game.

Initial odds have Georgia as 7.5 point favorites in this semifinal.

Michael Balderston

Michael Balderston is a D.C.-based entertainment writer and content producer for What to Watch. He previously has written for TV Technology and Awards Circuit.