The Cincinnati Bearcats are ranked No. 3 in the polls, but their hopes of making the College Football Playoff are still very complicated.
It’s been a magical season so far for the Cincinnati Bearcats, who are ranked among the best teams in college football with a clear path to an undefeated season ahead of them.
However, being undefeated doesn’t guarantee a spot in the College Football Playoff.
What will it take for an unbeaten Bearcats team to rank in the Final Four when the regular season ends?
Cincinnati’s College Football Playoff hopes hinge on the eye test and help
First and foremost, it’s not enough to be undefeated. Cincinnati needs to blow out everyone left on their schedule. They already have quality wins over Indiana and Notre Dame. The rest of their victories must be in style.
Then comes the part that Cincinnati can’t control: Everyone else.
The Bearcats need Georgia to run away with the SEC, eliminating the possibility of Alabama getting in as a second representative of that conference.
They’ve been helped by Clemson’s demise and the lack of another ACC contender emerging.
Still, Ohio State could pose a problem if the Buckeyes go on a strong run to end the season and talk of two Big Ten teams in the Top 4 emerges. That conference has Iowa, Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan and Michigan State in the Top 10 right now. There are a dozen scenarios to worry about.
The Big 12 will occupy one of the four spots until Oklahoma loses. While they haven’t passed the eye test, if they make it through the conference unscathed they’re a shoo-in.
Oregon and the Pac-12 could do the Bearcats a favor by continuing to cannibalize each other.
Cincinnati is in the best position a Group of 5 contenders has been in at this stage. They have a path. There’s just a long way to go.
If Cincinnati goes undefeated, they will have a good chance to make the College Football Playoff, but they won’t be a lock.