Cincinnati must beat Notre Dame for the sake of the Group of Five teams
Depending on who you ask, college football may or may not have a problem. If you ask a fan of any Power 5 conference, I’m sure most of them will tell you that there is nothing wrong with the college football landscape today. However, most fans of the Group of Five teams will probably tell you that there is an elitist problem with the CFP selections.
Since the creation of the CFP in 2015, the only non-Power 5 school to achieve the CFP was our Lady, who did so in 2019 and 2021. Although several schools in the Group of Five have had fantastic and sometimes undefeated seasons since 2015, none have had the honor of competing for the national championship. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. If the best schools in the country all attend Power 5 conferences, then there is no reason why the CFP should not be filled with these schools. However, with several Power 5 conferences on the verge of major retooling with Texas and Oklahoma join SEC, as well as BYU, Houston, Cincinnati and UCF set to join the Big 12 by the 2024-2025 season at the latest, we are only a few years away from even fewer schools in the group of five competing for the college football qualifiers.
As the schools in the Group of Five compete against each other throughout the season, it feels like there is that sense of respect between them. They’re helping each other to show Power 5 conferences that they have the potential to be just as strong, and in 2021, with so many top 25 schools losing games early in the season, Cincinnati could be the best. chance of the Group of Five to sneak into the PCP ever. So far in the season, there have been 25 losses by the top 25 AP teams. According to ESPN, this is the most losing early in the season since 1936. This chaos opened the door for Cincinnati to reach the playoffs.
In the CFP era, no school in the Group of Five has ever started a season ranked as high as Cincinnati was this preseason (No. # 8). After a season where the Bearcats finished 9-1 with their only loss of the season to Georgia at the Peach Bowl, Cincinnati faces a lot of pressure in 2021. They don’t just face the pressure to succeed in order to keep the game. reputation. of their strong program, but their success and inclusion / exclusion from this year’s CFP could determine the future of the Group of Five schools in college football qualifiers for years to come.
Even with CFP enlargement talks hotter than ever, the likelihood that a Group of Five team will be taken seriously by The Associated Press when determining the rankings is very low. So while a few teams in the Group of Five could finish the season in the top 12 and reach the playoffs in the new expanded format, they likely wouldn’t get the credit they deserve and could be forced into more difficult clashes. because their level of competition throughout the regular season was not on par with the Power 5 schools they compete against.
That’s why today’s Cincinnati game against Notre Dame is so important, not only to Cincinnati, but to all the schools in the Group of Five who have prayed that the AP poll takes them seriously. If the Bearcats fail to take Notre Dame down, it only reinforces The Associated Press’s belief that a Group of Five school cannot compete with major college football brands across the country.
If Cincinnati makes the playoffs, it would set a new precedent for the schools in the Group of Five. The Bearcats will have broken the barrier that schools like UCF, Houston and others have only scratched the surface of, and this will hopefully give the Group of Five schools a new respect from the CFP committee as they didn’t have before – the kind of respect that ranks SEC Universities two losses less than undefeated MAC Universities, as they have now realized that the level of competition in these non-Power 5 conferences can be solid.
Coming into this game, Cincinnati was slightly favored by most sports betting, as they should be. The Bearcats were the most effective team. I like Desmond Ridder more than Jack Coan, and the Cincinnati defense playmakers are plentiful. It should be a great game with implications the Bearcats don’t even realize. Hopefully the pressure doesn’t get to them.