The University of Cincinnati (UC) Bearcats are now No.3 in Associated Press (AP) rankings, their highest rank in program history.
Cincinnati is 5-0 on the season one week into conference play and has seven games remaining in the season. Cincinnati began the season ranked No. 8 and currently sits only two spots behind the No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs – the Bearcats lone loss of the 2020 season.
The AP poll moved the Bearcats up two spots following their 52-3 routing of Temple University on Friday. As the Bearcats enter unprecedented waters of the college football top four, there is a new group of counterparts threatening their playoff hopes.
BIG 10 Champion
Whoever comes out victorious from the Big 10 championship is almost undoubtedly the top threat to Cincinnati remaining in the top-four. The Big 10 currently has five top-10 teams for the first time ever in conference history.
Among them, the No. 2 Iowa Hawkeyes who put up a close 23-20 win over now No. 7 Penn State. Iowa seemingly poses the most significant Big 10 threat to Cincinnati, unless the undefeated Michigan Wolverines or the one-loss Ohio State or Penn State Natty Lions win out the remainder of the season.
However, Ohio State and Michigan still must face each other in one of college football’s most notorious rivalries, likely knocking the lesser out of all consideration.
No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs
The Georgia Bulldogs jumped to the No. 1 spot after a 24-10 win over Auburn and a No. 1 Alabama loss. However, the Bulldogs shouldn’t be considered a top-four lock just yet, they still have to face two top-20 teams in No.11 the University of Kentucky, and No. 20 the University of Florida.
After such a convincingly dominant season, if the Bulldogs suffer a loss to anyone, they could still be in contention with the Bearcats for a top-four playoff spot. Programs like the Bulldogs and Alabama are fortunate enough to have rigorous enough schedules to not be completely out of consideration with a loss, unlike the Bearcats who must win out.
No. 4 Oklahoma Sooners
The undefeated Oklahoma Sooners continue to rise, jumping two spots after a nail-biting 55-48 win over now No. 25 Texas. The Sooners are not only fighting to stay in the top-four with the Bearcats. They have a quarterback in Spencer Rattler who is a candidate along with Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder for the Heisman Trophy.
The Sooners have a fairly easy schedule remaining, aside from No. 12 Oklahoma State, who is also undefeated and set to face them on Nov. 12. The Sooners early season dominance and remaining schedule is a concern to the Bearcat’s, who could find it hard to squeeze through the CFP doors together.
No. 5 Alabama Crimson Tide
Alabama has been a unanimous No. 1 this season, that was until they tripped up to unranked Texas A&M in a 41-38 loss. Now, the Crimson Tide are a questionable threat to the Bearcats, because they sit on the near outskirts of the top-four and are highly valued by the CFP committee.
If Alabama and UC both go undefeated the remainder of the season, it is likely a one-loss Nick Saban squad will be a top threat to Cincinnati’s spot in the top-four.
The Bearcats should coast through the remainder of their season, with No. 23 Southern Methodist University (SMU) being their only currently ranked opponent.
The first College Football Playoff rankings are released on Nov. 2. The Bearcats host the Univesity of Central Florida on Saturday at noon, which can be streamed on ABC.