The Cincinnati Bearcats are No. 6 in the season’s first College Football Playoff ranking, meaning the team would be outside the national title field if the bracket started today. While the Bearcats made history as the highest ranked Group of 5 team in the history of the playoff, that’s not going to be enough for a team with high expectations and a lot of barriers to break down.
Cincinnati guaranteed a Top 6 ranking, making history as highest ranked Group of 5 team in 8-year history of @CFBPlayoff rankings— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) November 2, 2021
Cincinnati is behind three one-loss teams; the Alabama Crimson Tide, the Oregon Ducks and the Ohio State Buckeyes. Oregon’s head-to-head win over Ohio State seemed to matter in the eyes of the committee early on, so the Ducks get a break despite losing to Stanford. The Bearcats do have some style points with a two-score victory over Notre Dame, who is at No. 10 in the first ranking, but it’s clear there’s more work to be done.
The Georgia Bulldogs are in the top spot as expected, with undefeated Michigan State in the playoff as well at No. 3. Both teams will have some major tests ahead but the Spartans will be challenged in the final two weeks of the season with Ohio State and Penn State. The Michigan Wolverines are ranked No. 7 despite a loss to Michigan State. They’ll have a chance to improve their standing as well with games against Ohio State and Penn State looming.
For Cincinnati to make the playoff, it needs some chaos. It needs Georgia to run the table and knock off Alabama in the SEC title game. No two-loss team has ever made the playoff. The Bearcats also need Ohio State to drop another game, preferably against Michigan State. If Cincinnati can run the table in style and have these results go their way, there’s a chance the committee has no choice but to include a Group of 5 team in the Playoff.