It would be too early to imagine that an unbeaten Cincinnati Bearcats team would be invited by the College Football Playoff Committee to participate in their annual four-team invitational tournament. But it is not too early to expect them to do so.
Many members of the college football media, including our own Bill Bender, have been fascinated to see the Bearcats support the CFP candidacy after their lavish road victory against Notre Dame. Capital One-sponsor fan vote was somewhat surprised to see Cincinnati as the third best team in the country behind SEC power Alabama and Georgia, but it could be the result of some insane social media tactics from Bearcats fans.
I was a little surprised, though, by the results of a Twitter survey I designed that asked a simple question about the 2021 season: “Suppose it’s the night of December 4 and Cincinnati won the AAC Championship game and is undefeated. Take to the field?
1,545 people voted, 47.5 percent said yes.
These people have a lot more faith in the CFP system than I do.
Every piece of evidence in hand says there will be no answer.
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We have seen various members of the committee working since 2014. These are the seven versions of CFP. We’ve seen how they’ve ranked skilled, flawless teams from outside “Power 5” over the years.
The Houston CFP Committee was ranked 18th in 2015, with a three-point loss to Connecticut at just 12-1. Western Michigan was 15th in 2016, with a perfect record. The committee insulted the UCF’s 12-0 squad with a ranking of 12 a year later, and when they repeated that achievement a year later, they were only promoted to 8, behind two power-conference teams that had lost twice.
Cincinnati has already traveled the same path, avoiding the Covid-1 stop stoppage like everyone else, winning every regular season game and winning the American Athletic Conference Championship Games in 2020. The Bearcats were eighth and behind a Florida team that fell three times.
That’s the environment these beacons will navigate if they can successfully overcome the various hurdles they face in their season: a Friday night home game this week that is a clear setup for the frustration against Fisty Temple; Meritorious but unpredictable UCF at home a week later; It is a great temptation to believe that all the terrible challenges were overcome when we left SMU No. 24 at home and Bearcats at Notre Dame Stadium before Thanksgiving.
Bender: Cincinnati-UCF and picks against the spread of each top 25 game Guess the bowl
Is it different because the Bearcats traveled to the most historically important venues in the sport and defeated an Irish squad that was in the top-10 rankings at the time? This is the expectation of Cincinnati fans and all those who champion the best middleweight in college football.
But UC’s impressive road win against Indiana has already lost some of its share as the Huskies lost 2-0 in Penn State to 2-3, and there’s no word on how the ND will fare in future games against Virginia Tech, USC and North. Carolina. Bearcat fans will now have to suffer the same fate as the IU and Notre Dame as their own team.
My friend Brian Snow, a Cincinnati resident who is now the director of recruitment to the Penn State men’s basketball program, explains that the fall of any team will not be the fault of the Bearcats, but it will be their problem.
The highest rated G5 team in each season of the CFP era
And it assumes that the committee will not enter into any competitive argument at all against Cincinnati, “see their conference.” Only 5-0 SMU, which is a 42-34 win over Big 12 member TCU and 4-1 more than a game over Houston .500.
We don’t know what will happen at a conference that traditionally sends its most successful teams to the CFP. (Okay, we somehow know what will happen at the SEC). Ohio State could continue its comeback from failing to beat opponents like Iowa in the Penn State, Michigan State, Michigan and Big Ten Championship games against Oregon and losing against Tulsa. Oregon could stumble overtime against Stanford and recover for the rest of the Pack-12 season. Oklahoma has not lost yet, but the goldsmiths have been underestimated because they were not influential. If they don’t make their way into the undefeated season, however, the CFP committee’s MO will embrace anyone from a conference that is considered less emotional.
28 teams have been invited to the previous CFP. No one was at any conference outside of Power5. The merger of a talented Cincinnati team that entered the season with recent success and a schedule that offered Notre Dame a chance many hoped would break the established trend.
What it is, though: hope. There was a business book about sales called “Hope is not a strategy.” And yet it remains an essential part of the plan for the best outside of college football.