UC vs. UCF Desmond Ridder

The University of Cincinnati football team defeated the University of Central Florida, 56-21, on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021 at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati. The Bearcats victory advanced them to 6-0, the Associated Press rewarded the team by ranking them No. 2 in the Week 8 Top 25 Poll.

After a victory over UCF that advanced the University of Cincinnati (UC) Bearcats football team to 6-0, the Associated Press (AP) rewarded the team by ranking them No. 2 in the Week 8 Top 25 Poll. This ranking is once again the highest in school history, and further improves Cincinnati’s chances at making the College Football Playoff (CFP). 

Quick reminder, though: the AP does not decide the final four teams that make the CFP. The CFP has its own committee that votes once the season comes to a close.

But enough about the technicalities. The Bearcats are riding a tsunami-sized wave of momentum as the season progresses and everyone, from the players to the fans, knows that there has never been a better chance at a national championship. 

There are a lot of teams that still pose a threat to the title, a lot of them coming from similar conferences that will result in two contenders facing off early. In the Big 10, there are four teams situated in the top ten of the most recent AP Poll.

No. 5 Ohio State, No. 6 Michigan, No. 7 Penn State, and No. 9 Michigan State all are set to compete against each other over the course of the next six weeks. That means three of these schools are guaranteed to finish the season with at least one loss, but could also end up with as many as four defeats to their names.

What does this mean for Cincinnati? Assuming that UC remains undefeated for the remainder of the season, the top ten teams in the country are going to implode amongst themselves. A singular loss from here on out can mean the title hopes are over for any team wishing to win the national championship.

Cincinnati’s ideal scenario for the Big 10

For UC, it would be most ideal for Michigan to finish the season undefeated and win the Big 10 conference tournament, handing both Ohio State and Penn State their second losses of the season in the process. It’s reasonable to expect Michigan State to lose to at least one of the other three Big 10 schools, which means this will cement one—and only one—Big 10 team in the CFP.

In the Southeastern Conference (SEC), the Georgia Bulldogs and Alabama Crimson Tide shine as the two top contenders for the national championship. Alabama, however, picked up a loss to Texas A&M that dropped them in the polls. This loss is one of the direct causes of Cincinnati’s placement in the top four.  

Cincinnati’s ideal scenario for the SEC

If it is unrealistic to hope that Alabama picks up another stray loss before presumably meeting Georgia in the SEC championship, Bearcat fans should be big-time Bulldog supporters. Yes, there is some rocky history between the two after the Peach Bowl last season, but they could also be the reason Cincinnati finishes in the top four.

An SEC championship victory for Georgia over Alabama would almost guarantee the Crimson Tide finishing outside the top four, maintaining the door ajar for the Bearcats.

Placing No. 3 in the AP Top 25 for Week 8 is the Big 12 powerhouse Oklahoma. Don’t look now, but the Sooners have given up at least 30 points in three straight games and still have two ranked opponents remaining on their schedule.

The Oklahoma Sooners’ biggest test will come in the last week of the regular season, where they are set to meet undefeated rivals No. 8 Oklahoma State.

Cincinnati’s ideal scenario for the Big 12

Many may wish that both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State pick up a loss before meeting each other, so that is going to be this conference’s ideal scenario. Oklahoma State has only won one game by more than 10 points, and has three more road games to test their will. 

Other than Oklahoma's spotty defense, starting quarterback Spencer Rattler was injured, which has placed the weight on freshman backup Caleb Williams. Bearcat fans can hope for a loss in the next five weeks from one of these teams but if it doesn’t come, “Boomer Sooner” should echo around Cincinnati when they meet.

If these scenarios all pan out, the CFP committee should have a relatively easy time naming the top four as Georgia, Cincinnati, Oklahoma and Michigan. The order can change how the committee pleases, but it would mean that the Cincinnati Bearcats will have a true shot at hoisting the National Championship Trophy.