Monday, January 24

An undefeated Cincinnati still won’t be enough for the college football Playoffs selection committee

It’s too early to assume that an undefeated Cincinnati Bearcats team would be invited by the college football Playoffs committee to participate in their annual four-team invitational tournament. But it’s not too early to hope they don’t.

It’s been lovely to see so many members of the college football media backing the Bearcats’ CFP bid following their dazzling road victory over Notre Dame, including our own Bill Bender. It was a bit surprising to see a Capital One sponsored fan vote nominate Cincinnati as the third best team in the nation behind SEC powerhouses Alabama and Georgia, but that could have been the product of some frenzied maneuvering in the social media by highly motivated Bearcats fans.

What surprised me a bit, though, were the results of a Twitter poll I designed that asked a simple question about the 2021 season: “Let’s say it’s the night of December 4 and Cincinnati won the AAC Championship game and finished. unbeaten. Will the college football playoff committee put them on the four-team field?

Of the 1,545 who voted, 47.5 percent said yes.

These people have much more faith in the CFP system than I do.

All the available evidence says the answer will be no.

MORE: Cincinnati needs to cheer, cheer on Old Notre Dame

We have seen several members of the committee work since 2014. There are seven editions of the PPC. We’ve seen the consummate and flawless teams from outside of the “Power 5” rank through the years.

At 12-1 and just a three-point loss to Connecticut in 2015, Houston was ranked 18th according to the CFP committee. With a perfect record in 2016, Western Michigan was No. 15. The committee insulted UCF’s 12-0 team a year later with a No. 12 ranking, and when they repeated that achievement a year later, they simply advanced to No. 8, behind two power conference teams that lost twice each.

Cincinnati has already traveled the same path, winning every regular season game and the American Athletic Conference championship game in 2020 while dodging COVID-19 stoppages like everyone else. The Bearcats ranked eighth and trailed a Florida team that fell three times.

That’s the environment these Bearcats will navigate if they manage to overcome the various obstacles left in their season: a home game on Friday night this week that is an obvious setup for a disappointment against fighter Temple; Talented but unpredictable UCF at home a week later; The No. 24 SMU at home before Thanksgiving and the nagging temptation to believe that all of the most overwhelming challenges had been beaten when the Bearcats departed from Notre Dame Stadium.

BENDER: Picks Against the Spread for Cincy-UCF and Every Top 25 Game | Bowl projections

Is it different because the Bearcats traveled to the historically most important place in the sport and defeated an Irish team that, at the time, had a top 10 ranking? That’s the hope that drives Cincinnati fans and all those who defend the best middleweights in college football.

But UC’s impressive road win against Indiana has already lost some of its weight, as the Hoosiers fell to 2-3 with a 24-0 loss at Penn State, and it is unknown how ND will fare in future games. against Virginia Tech, USC and North. Carolina. Bearcats fans must now be as consumed with the future results of IU and Notre Dame as their own team.

To paraphrase my friend Brian Snow, a Cincinnati native who is now the director of recruiting for Penn State’s men’s basketball program, a decline of either team wouldn’t be the Bearcats’ fault, but it would be their problem.

Top-rated G5 teams in each season of the CFP era

2020 Cincinnati 8 9-0
2019 Memphis 17 12-1
2018 UCF 8 12-0
2017. UCF 12 12-0
2016 Western michigan fifteen 13-0
2015. Houston 18 12-1
2014 Boise State twenty 11-2

And that’s assuming the committee wouldn’t inject any competitive logic into the arguments against Cincinnati beyond the typical, “Look at his lecture.” Only 5-0 SMU, which earned a 42-34 victory over the 12-member Big 12 TCU, and 4-1 Houston are more than a game over .500.

We don’t know what will happen in any of the conferences that have traditionally sent their most successful teams to the CFP. (Well, we know what will happen at the SEC.) Ohio State could continue its recovery after failing against Oregon and beating Tulsa to defeat opponents like Penn State, Michigan State, Michigan and, say, Iowa in the Big Ten Championship game. Oregon could bounce back from its overtime stumble against Stanford and spend the rest of the Pac-12 season. Oklahoma hasn’t lost yet, but the Sooners have been undervalued because they haven’t been dominant. However, if they fail to impress on their way to an undefeated season, the CFP committee’s modus operandi would be to embrace them above anyone from a conference perceived as less imposing.

28 teams have been invited to previous CFPs. None were from a conference outside of Power 5. No team from the AAC or Mountain West or any similar league has even come close. The convergence of a talented Cincinnati team that entered the season with recent accomplishments and a schedule that offered opportunity at Notre Dame had many expect the established trend to break.

Yet that’s what it is: hope. There was a business book on sales called “Hope is not a strategy.” And yet, he’s still an indispensable part of the plan for college football’s best outsiders.

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