The weekly College Football Playoff rankings were released earlier this week and the Cincinnati Bearcats were ranked fourth.
You read that right
We told you back in October that COVID-19 and the loosened transfer rules shifted the balance of power in college football. It wasn’t a dramatic shift but big enough to elevate the competitive potential of several teams.
Led by preseason Heisman candidate Desmond Ritter, a projected NFL first-round pick, the Bearcats are busting through the blue bloods and doing what no Group of Five program has ever done by cracking the Top 4 in the polls. This is a huge moment for the Group of Five, considering how the college football selection committee usually just glosses right over them.
Cincinnati is the new No. 4 in the #CFBPlayoff‼️
It's the first time a non-Power 5 team has ever appeared in the top 4 of any playoff ranking. pic.twitter.com/TBzMGlrTXb
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 24, 2021
For weeks the Bearcats and many fans around the country have been clamoring for them to be respected as a possible playoff team. According to the committee, being undefeated with a signature win at highly ranked Notre Dame wasn’t enough to elevate Cincinnati into the upper echelon of college football powerhouses.
Bearcats Dominate SMU
Saturday’s 48-14 drubbing of SMU was enough to finally convince the committee to put some respect on the Bearcats’ national standing. The victory was probably Cincy’s most well-rounded game of the season.
It was so impressive it even had Jerry Palm of 247Sports speaking highly …
“The Bearcats have a knack for playing better against their better opponents. After struggling for a month with AAC also-rans, they came out and smoked SMU. Cincinnati has played four teams that are currently above .500 and beaten three by at least 34 points. The other team is Notre Dame.”
And BTW…that game was in South Bend.
— ESPN (@espn) November 24, 2021
Cincy Needs To Dominate ECU This Week And Houston In The AAC Championship Game
The Bearcats’ stronghold on the No. 4 spot isn’t anywhere near solidified, with Michigan, Oklahoma State and ND to a lesser extent lurking. The head-to-head tiebreaker versus ND is huge for the Bearcats, because without it they’d be an afterthought.
Bearcats Could Still Use Style Points: Blowouts Are Smiled Upon
Being undefeated is great, but the committee will always holds playing a weaker AAC schedule against them. That being said, every time the Bearcats take the field they not only need to win, but need to be impressive. They won’t have the benefit of Big 10 or Big 12 conference affiliation. Michigan and Oklahoma State (two of the three teams ranked directly behind them) play much tougher competition.
QB Desmond Ridder and the offense need try to score as much as possible. The defense needs to continue to play fast and furious.
When asked why the Bearcats made the top 4 this week, CFP committee chair Gary Barta said, “They won again. Their victory over a good SMU team combined with Oregon’s loss led the committee to rank Cincinnati at No. 4.”
The little guy finally has the shot they’ve been clamoring for since 2014, when the CFP became a thing. This is the closest a non-traditional power program has been to the playoffs. If the Bearcats fare well, it could be the catalyst for an expanded playoff field of 8-12 teams.
— Cincinnati 💔 (@CincyProblems) November 24, 2021
The fate of elite and burgeoning football programs outside of the Power 5 is resting on the shoulders of an unheralded but sturdy team out of Ohio, looking to make history and make a case for the little guys with big dreams.
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