Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel and Pete Thamel, and Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde discuss Cincinnati’s potential to make it into the College Football Playoff, and how Oklahoma or Oklahoma State could ruin the Bearcats’ chances.
DAN WETZEL: The story of the season has always been-- one of those stories is can Cincinnati get into this thing? And for a non-Power Five to get in, you pretty much need two of the three Power Five leagues to just cannibalize themselves, and that's done. ACC is out now that Wake lost to Clemson, and Oregon is out now that-- Pac-12 is out now that Oregon lost to Utah. The Big 12 could still cannibalize itself.
So Cincinnati, in my opinion, will move up to four this week, as they should. That doesn't mean this is over for them. First off, they got to win at East Carolina and then a very good Houston team that has to be killing itself that they got beat somehow by Texas Tech at the beginning of the year or they'd be right here too. That Cincinnati-Houston game might be something more of a playoff. But they do get to Houston so we'll see.
But Cincinnati wins out, I have basically two results that can still get them bounced. Alabama defeats Georgia and either Oklahoma State or Oklahoma wins out. Oklahoma would do it with a double Bedlam. Oklahoma State would win Bedlam and then beat Baylor. I think if that happens, and you have a 12 and 1 Big 12 champ, and Alabama and whatever they are, 12 and 1-- 12 and 1 SEC teams in Bama and Georgia, you will have an Alabama will be one, Ohio State or Michigan would be two, the Big Ten champ, Georgia would be three, and I think Oklahoma or Oklahoma State would leap Cincinnati and get in there.
What do you think? Would that happen or not? Pat?
PAT FORDE: Oh, it's entirely possible. It's certainly possible. It would be infuriating to a lot of people, myself likely included, because I just don't think the Big 12 teams-- certainly Oklahoma-- has done enough to merit--
DAN WETZEL: But Oklahoma State, man. I mean, they got a 3-point loss at Iowa State. That's it.
PAT FORDE: I know.
DAN WETZEL: And they would have a win over Boise.
PAT FORDE: Their last drive was stopped by what looked like a pretty bad spot. But I just think-- look, Cincinnati, if you're 13 and 0 and you didn't lay the egg in Ames, you won every game on your schedule, you won convincingly at a one-loss top-10 Notre Dame, versus a team that beat Southwest Missouri, Tulsa, Boise State. Yee haw. And then you go into the Big 12, which I don't think is very good. And, OK, you would have beaten Oklahoma. Big whoop. You would have beaten Baylor. That's your good win.
DAN WETZEL: All right, Pete, can you imagine Oklahoma State jumping Cincinnati?
PETE THAMEL: I can imagine many scenarios for Cincinnati getting shafted because we have two years of empirical evidence of how eager the committee is to do it. So any situation you fly at me that gives them a chance to hurt Cincinnati, they should. Now think about this. Cincinnati played a pretty good SMU team on Saturday afternoon, and they walloped SMU. I mean, I thought Sonny Dykes took the TCU job at halftime. I mean, SMU was terrible.
And it was sort of that reminder of what this Cincinnati team can be. They've got maulers in the secondary. Coby Bryant played his tail off, who's the corner opposite soft Gardner-- Sauce Gardner, excuse me. Desmond Ridder looked as good as he's looked all season. There were deep balls open everywhere. And they are designed in a lot of ways, Cincinnati, with the really elite secondary to play more of these wide-open ACC teams.
Part of what's happened to Cincinnati the past couple of weeks is that teams just basically ditched their offenses and ran gadget offenses to shorten the game and keep things close, and it worked. That's what happens when you dominate a league, and that's what happens when your defense is that good. You're going to do that. So SMU clearly just went out and ran things full tilt, and they pounded them. So I really feel like for Cincinnati, they have some separation and some air from the "they're not playing that well" phase of their schedule.
Yeah, I think that just don't underestimate the committee's desire to reward the fat cats. We've just seen it time and time again. We saw it with UCF. We've seen this play before, and we've heard Mike Aresco complain about it before. It's the same cycle, like it almost has gotten tedious and boring in a lot of ways. It's like, oh, the committee shafted the team from outside the power leagues. What a surprise. They're mad about it. What a surprise. It's sort of-- this playoff cycle has kind of hit that, just generally speaking from 30,000 feet, that eye-roll predictability phase.