Now No. 2, Cincinnati a True Playoff Contender, with No Room For Error

The 2021 college football season may have some notes of 2007, but it is not there yet.

We are in season eight of the College Football Playoff format, and a Group of 5 team is not just on the outside screaming for people to pay attention.

It is currently in position to be in the first top four when released Nov. 2.

No. 2 Cincinnati, who will join the Big 12 in the next few seasons, has been quietly working its way up the Associated Press rankings, taking care of weaker opponents like Miami (OH) and Murray State, then going on the road beating Indiana and two weeks later, knocking off then No. 9 Notre Dame in South Bend which gave them something U.C.F. lacked in prior years when arguing why they deserved an invite to the playoff: a quality win against a Top-10 opponent that conjures a lot of eyeballs.

While some teams after getting big wins at Notre Dame fall on their face the following week (Hi, Pitt!), Cincinnati moved on from the program’s most significant win and rolled by Temple 52-3 on a short week and then followed it up with a 56-21 win this past Saturday over U.C.F., who is not the same team that was buying a customized bowling trophy to celebrate its “National Championship” in 2017.

While I question what the Bearcats will look like in the Big 12 against better conference foes long after Desmond Ridder moves onto the NFL, living in the present, U.C. is playing its American Athletic Conference schedule the rest of the season and they will be favorites in every game (heavy favorites in a few) in the lead-up to their appearance in the conference title game.

Come on, you know they’ll be one of the two appearing.

This is the remaining schedule for No. 2 CIncinnati

  • at Navy
  • at Tulane
  • vs. Tulsa
  • at USF
  • vs. No. 21 SMU
  • at East Carolina
  • A.A.C. Championship Game

The best opponent left for Cincinnati is SMU, ranked No. 21 and currently undefeated. If you are the Bearcats, you want the Mustangs to still be undefeated when Nov. 20 rolls around.

Looking at the broader picture, U.C. has to play a great game each week to keep the College Football Playoff committee happy and in the top 4 of the rankings once they start getting released weekly.

No. 1 Georgia is destined to be in that spot going into the SEC Championship Game, where they are likely to face No. 4 Alabama, who despite an upset loss to then-unranked Texas A&M, could still work their way in with a victory in Atlanta, which would likely give us two SEC playoff teams since Georgia would still get in.

No. 3 Oklahoma, who might the luckiest team out there, could steal a spot if they remain undefeated and win the Big 12, but if Oklahoma State knocks them off, then its full Bedlam there. Get it?

While I hate to be the fly in the ointment, No. 5 Ohio State is working its way back into the playoff picture. Cincinnati fans have been pounding their chests, letting their Buckeye counterparts know their team is ranked higher right now, but OSU has done this before. Just when you think they’re dead after an early-season loss, they sneak up behind you.

Cincinnati is essentially playing the College Football Playoff version of ‘Squid Game’ the next seven weeks. There’s a big prize waiting for them should they go 13-0. One false move, they’re eliminated.

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