The Cincinnati Bearcats are 8-0 and stayed undefeated on Saturday with an ugly 31-12 victory at Tulane.
Ranked No. 2 in the AP poll, the AAC juggernaut now awaits Tuesday night when the first College Football Playoff ranking of the season will be released by the committee. So where should we expect to see the Bearcats slotted in this first ranking? Well if history is any indicator, there will probably be a lot of angry folks in southern Ohio on Wednesday morning...well, the one’s who aren’t fans of Ohio State.
The CFP Selection Committee has notoriously stiffed Group of Five teams in its rankings, as not a single G5 program has cracked the top six in its seven-year history. We’ve seen various displays of goalpost-moving when it came to the candidacies of dominant programs like UCF or even last-year’s Cincinnati teams in the past, as the determining powers have shown no interest in slotting an undefeated G5 in the top four. And with them only beating Tulane by 19, they’ll probably be punished for not picking up “style points”.
But this is the closest any “mid-major” team has been to having a case. So our college football staff put together their thoughts on what the CFP will do with the team that doesn’t fit any previous pattern.
Collin Sherwin: DK College Sports Editor
I think The Committee* will do everything they can to keep UC out of the top-four on Tuesday. If they get ahead of the public momentum now, they can start to invalidate the outcome if/when UC plays a close game against undefeated and No. 19 SMU. Since Michigan State got a big win over Michigan at home, I think between that and UC’s “close” loss to Tulane (favored by 28, won by 19) will be enough to use the preposterous “game control” factor to keep the Bearcats down.
And notice where OSU is, because that will give Michigan State another quality opportunity later to score a win. And if OSU wins, well... that’s a bigger quality win than anything Cincinnati has! It’s just science!
See the pattern here? Heads the Power Five wins, tails the Group of Five loses.
* If La Familia is capitalized, this cabal should be too.
Nick Simon: DK Nation Staff Writer
AP poll voters have shown a willingness to place them high up, but I think the CFP committee will keep Cincinnati out of the top four. However, they’ll keep them close enough to keep dangling the carrot in from. Barring UGA bricking the World’s Largest Cocktail Party on Saturday, here’s how I see it playing out:
3. Michigan State
6. Ohio State
Cinci will be placed at No. 5, and continue to be told that they need to dominant victories to move up. The Bearcats aren’t a team that necessarily wins in aesthetically pleasing ways, so they’ll be punished for only beating the Tulsas and the USFs of the world by 18 points. If they do firebomb these teams by 40, then the argument will be that they’re not playing anybody worthwhile. I can see them effectively stalling out at five unless we get more chaos.
Chinmay Vaidya: DK Nation Junior Sports Editor
If the goal of the CFP committee is to find the four best teams in college football, Cincinnati has to be top-four in the initial ranking. There’s not four better resumes across the country, and the Bearcats have done enough in terms of amassing “style points” to prevent that card from being played against them.
That being said, I’ve got some serious reservations about the integrity and competence of the CFP committee. Over the last few years, it’s become very evident the committee is largely furthering the interests of the big-name schools and media rights holders rather than judge teams based on their resumes. So looking at it from that lens, here’s how I see the initial rankings playing out. Some of these teams haven’t played yet, so these could change based on results later in the day.
3. Michigan State
5. Ohio State
The committee is banking on Ohio State running the table in the Big Ten, which would allow it to leapfrog Cincinnati no matter what the Bearcats do. Placing Alabama second ensures two SEC teams assuming the Tide beat the Bulldogs in the SEC title game. Assuming the Sooners go win the Big 12, they’ll get a bump over Cincinnati as well for reasons we’ll never know. Unless there’s an insane amount of upsets in the remaining weeks, the Bearcats are not going to make the playoff. It’s not as easy as simply leaving the school out of the top four completely the rest of the way, but it’s significantly more diabolical and offers the committee an easy way out when pressed for an explanation.