It took a while but the College Football Playoff committee finally put Cincinnati among the final four in their latest rankings.
All it took was Oregon losing big to Utah and falling out of the top ten to make that happen. The Bearcats rode their reputation built last year and their victory over No. 6 Notre Dame this year the No. 2 spot in the AP poll prior to the committee beginning their official ranking and knocking them and the rest of the American Athletic Conference down a peg.
Both Cincinnati and Houston are undefeated in conference play and will be joining the Big 12 next year. The recent rankings should worry Cincinnati about the future, considering that the Bearcats are joining a conference that has been deemed irrelevant by the committee despite three teams in the top 10 and the prospect of back-to-back Bedlam deciding the conference title.
Cincinnati potentially making the playoffs is a long time coming. Since the turn of the 21st century, all of those sympathetic of the Group of Five conferences wanted was a fair opportunity. If there was a team like Boise State in the mid to late 2000’s, Cincinnati in 2009 or even Central Florida (another future Big 12 member) in 2017 that have been dominate and perfect entering bowl season, they deserve a chance to prove themselves and play for the ultimate prize.
However, the college football system, which has long been separated from the NCAA structure, starts every season automatically disqualifying half of the country. From the BCS computers to the roundtable of Stugotz that make up the CFP committee, it seemed like there was always this glass ceiling for those teams.
Had UCF been given a chance to play in the playoff in 2018 instead of an Alabama team that didn’t even play for the SEC title, maybe the Knights wouldn’t felt the need to rebel and thumb their nose at the dismissing system and declare themselves national champions by going undefeated and beating the team that beat Alabama.
The matchups this week and next week are as interesting as ever. Finally, Ohio State vs. Michigan with high stakes. Loser loses out of a chance at the Big Ten title game and the playoff. The Iron Bowl at Auburn, which usually spells trouble for an Alabama team that can’t afford another loss. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State face off in Bedlam with Big 12 title implications and this time, the Cowboys are the higher ranked team.
And of course, Miami with a chance to finish the season with a winning conference record when the Hurricanes face a Duke team that is winless in the ACC.
And don’t forget Florida Atlantic, losers of three straight, battling Middle Tennessee with bowl eligibility on the line. The last time the Owls didn’t make a bowl game was in 2018, when they were a three-point loss against Charlotte away from accomplishing the goal.
And most importantly, FIU goes to Southern Miss with one more shot at a C-USA win and a chance to send Butch Davis off right.