CFP Rankings Release: Does Cincinnati’s Schedule Hurt Their Odds?

  • The Cincinnati Bearcats has the fifth-shortest odds at +3000 to win the NCAA Championship.
  • The Bearcats are currently No. 2 in the AP Poll, behind only the Georgia Bulldogs.

CINCINNATI – The first College Football Playoff rankings will be released on Tuesday and where the Cincinnati Bearcats will land is one of the biggest question marks.

Where Should Cincinnati Be Ranked?

There’s a lot of data that suggests the Cincinnati Bearcats will be ranked inside the top four. Not only is the team undefeated with an 8-0 record, but online sportsbooks have been seeing them win easily more often than not.

The Bearcats are winning by an average margin of 24.3 points per game which is the third-highest in the country. However, the main objection to the Bearcats making the playoff is their strength of schedule.

Many use a different formula to determine strength of schedule, but they rank anywhere from 94 to 100 on most lists.

However, getting key wins has always been important and Cincinnati was lucky enough to get one this season against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish who was ranked No. 9 at the time and are now No. 8 in the AP Poll.

Being undefeated with a top 10 win is a strong case in itself to be ranked anywhere from No. 2 to No. 4. However, it may not be enough to convince the committee, especially with potential ulterior motives.

Why Cincinnati Will Be Ranked Lower

The CFP committee is made up of 13 people, 11 of which are either directly affiliated with a Power 5 team or have former ties to one. Tom Burman, the Wyoming Cowboys’ athletic director, and Joe Taylor, VCU’s VP for Athletic and Community Wellness, are the only exceptions.

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Conferences make $6 million for each team that makes the playoff, obviously a lot of money. With 11 of the 13 people having some sort of affiliation with a Power 5 conference, they will not want that money going elsewhere. Plus, Cincinnati may bring in less money than other teams as their viewership numbers are low in comparison to the field.

Those betting on college football may find the Bearcats be put in the 5-7 range as the committee may want to make other teams lose before Cincinnati cracks the top four.

Plus, history shows the reluctance of the CFP committee to put Group of Five teams inside the top four as teams like UCF and even Cincinnati last season went undefeated and didn’t make it.

Bearcats Aren’t A Lock Even If Inside Top Four

Cincinnati hasn’t even locked up a spot in their conference championship game yet. Even if the Bearcats are put in one of the top spots, they have a looming matchup against the SMU Mustangs that could derail their season.

If they lose, it’ll likely be an SMU vs. Houston championship in the American.

Given the nature of their schedule, people will look to find any reason to keep Cincinnati out of the playoff as it’s a completely subjective decision-making process. Could there be arguments that a one-loss Oregon is better due to their win over Ohio State? Of course. Only time will tell, but the difference between what this team deserves and what they will get could be sizable.