NEW ORLEANS — Tim Tebow will play his final game for Florida against Big East champion Cincinnati in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1.

The fifth-ranked Gators lost the Southeastern Conference championship game to Alabama on Saturday night to end their 22-game winning streak and hope of winning a third national title in four seasons.

But with a 12-1 record — and the most popular player in the sport in Tebow — Florida was an obvious fit in the Sugar Bowl, which has a long relationship with the SEC.

The Gators last played in the Sugar Bowl in 2001, when they lost to Miami.

The unbeaten and fourth-ranked Bearcats (12-0) are making their second straight BCS appearance and will be playing in the Sugar Bowl for the first time.