The Cincinnati Bearcats, hot off a convincing win over No. 9 Notre Dame, continue to worm into the College Football Playoff conversation.
In the past, other Group Of Five teams clamored for a spot atop the college world. Some fell short of the mark due to a lackluster schedule. Others simply bent under the pressure of attempting to stay flawless.
Now, I’m sure everyone and their mother will tell you over the next week why you are dumb for wanting to see the Bearcats in the playoff or why you are dumb for excluding them. And to be honest, as long as Alabama keeps doing Alabama things, it really probably doesn’t matter who makes it.
But for the sake of reasoned conversation, let us take a look back to see if Cincinnati has a real case for a spot in the future playoff picture.
Comparing Records And An Honest Look At Opponents
As we know, the resume is everything to the playoff committee. You need to impress with WHO you played, not just HOW you played. Before we evaluate the resume for Cincinnati, we need to look at what kept other Group Of Five teams from pushing into the conversation.
The obvious first look is the 2017 UCF Golden Knights, a squad that went flawless with two top-25 wins on the schedule and an out-of-conference victory against the Big Ten.
UCF took down the No. 22 South Florida Bulls and the No. 16 Memphis Tigers in the season’s final two games. The Golden Knights also beat up Maryland in week two of the season.
For a team like UCF, every little thing matters. A big problem for the Florida school was the preseason conversation. In 2016, the Golden Knights won six games. No one was talking about UCF. The early out of conference game against Maryland is not exactly a put-you-on-the-map win.
While UCF finally got some top-25 brass to put on the trophy shelf, both were Group Of Five opponents too, with solid, not outstanding, resumes.
The BYU Cougars entered 2020 with some preseason chatter, thanks to the rising star of quarterback Zach Wilson. But the Cougars boasted zero statement wins or even Power Five wins for the first half of the season. Before a crushing loss to Coastal Carolina, the second half held a win over No. 21 Boise State. One loss and a weak resume will never work.
While it is hard to know what lands you a playoff spot, the three leading factors seem to be a strength of schedule, perfection, and statement wins. You need to stay perfect, crush a few people, and beat a few studs.
Does Cincinnati Have Enough Of A Resume To Justify A Spot?
Headed into the season, Cincinnati carried a lot of preseason buzz following a flawless regular-season slate in 2020, an excellent quarterback in Desmond Ridder, and a defense laden with top-level talent.
That hype bore itself out with a spot in the top 10 (ranked 8th) in the 2021 AP preseason poll.
Then, the Bearcats started the season by handling Indiana before a convincing win over Notre Dame. Because the Bearcats stacked the out-of-conference schedule, Cincinnati simply needs to run the table to stay in the conversation.
Ranked No. 5 in the country after five weeks, Cincinnati needs to take advantage of a weak conference by beating the breaks off a few opponents in the coming weeks.
While the next two months do not hold SEC or Big Ten teams, the Bearcats will play four teams currently holding .500 records. Taking care of business and beating up on the bad teams ahead while staying perfect can keep Cincinnati in play.
A perfect record to back up a red hot start and a packed opening month should be enough to buy the Bearcats a seat at the table.