With 3rd-ranked Oregon left to plummet after a beatdown in Salt Lake City, the Cincinnati Bearcats just might be a few wins away from a playoff berth.
This past Saturday was not a spectacular one for Ducks fans, as they fell to the inferiorly-ranked Utah Utes, 38-7. The same cannot be said, however, for the Cincinnati Bearcats.
An 8-win SMU coming to town was supposed to be the reason for Cincy’s playoff hopes officially rotting away, as the latter has recently struggled greatly with opponents that anyone else in the top 10 wouldn’t even wince at.
But the Bearcats were actually one of the few teams in the playoff discussion that truly blew people away this weekend, as they had the Mustangs barely getting off the field alive. With the final tally reading 48-14, Cincinnati finally looked like what everyone had originally expected them to.
But would that big victory have been enough by itself to sneak the Bearcats into the top four? No, probably not. Rather, they would also have needed one of the teams above them to take a tumble. And who better to do that than the outlier of the current playoff bubble, Oregon?
Oregon’s loss is Cincinnati’s gain
Everyone and their mother knew that Oregon had only one decent win in their arsenal and that it was simply a fluke. In fact, that was why 23rd-ranked Utah was favored entering their battle with the Ducks. And boy did the Utes show up to impress.
With a 28-0 lead at halftime, the Utes had run over Oregon and never looked back. With that in mind, it was obvious that the Ducks playoff hype was done for. No one knows quite yet just how harshly the CFP committee will punish Oregon for their colossal failure, but it will certainly drop them enough to make room for Cincy.
But unfortunately, there has already been speculation that the Michigan Wolverines–who currently sit at 6th (right under the Bearcats)–might jump Cincinnati for the fourth spot. This is very much possible, as Michigan has played much bigger competition overall, and just looked pretty flashy themselves in a 59-18 win over conference foe Maryland.
In my opinion, though, crushing Maryland is only worthy of so much praise, especially when I saw the Bearcats completely defy their odds against a more-competitive opponent in the same day. So regardless of what happens in Tuesday’s rankings, Cincinnati should be fourth.
Now yes, Cincinnati football has been unbeaten this entire time, and they had a statement win long before this little SMU matchup. But, while it can be argued that Cincy should have already been in the top four, at least they will most likely be in there now.
Under the assumption that they will, all the Bearcats will have to do then is win out in dominating fashion. There can’t be any more struggling and, to be honest, there shouldn’t have ever been any, to begin with. But nonetheless, an exclamation point to cap off a 13-0, the conference-winning season would be pretty hard to use against a team on Selection Day when they’re already in the top four.