The members of the College Football Playoff committee aren’t as smitten with Cincinnati as the writers and coaches who vote in the polls.
The Bearcats were ranked No. 6 in the first CFP rankings of the 2021 season released Tuesday night, leaving the 8-0 team with much more work to do to crack the four-team playoff.
To nobody’s surprise, Georgia (8-0) of the SEC is in the top spot. The dominant Bulldogs have outscored their opponents by a whopping 303-53.
Another SEC school, Alabama (7-1), is ranked second, while Michigan State (8-0) of the Big Ten is third.
Oregon (7-1) of the Pac-12 is fourth, just ahead of Big Ten power Ohio State (7-1). The Ducks beat the Buckeyes 35-28 in Columbus on Sept. 11.
Meanwhile, Cincinnati is ranked second by both the writers and coaches in their respective polls. But committee chairman Gary Barta asserted that the Bearcats are ranked where they should be and that there is no disrespect for the American Athletic Conference program.
“The committee has great respect for Cincinnati,” Barta said during ESPN’s broadcast. “The win at Notre Dame was a really impressive win. When you look at their schedule after that, who else did they beat? That was the other question.
“The committee has been watching games all year. Most recently, in the last two weeks, a 2-6 Navy team and then a 1-7 Tulane team with a freshman quarterback starting. So very impressive win against Notre Dame, a lot of respect, but looking at the whole picture, we feel 6 is the right place for Cincinnati.”
Though the ranking is the highest ever for a team from a Group of Five conference, it leaves the Bearcats no margin for error as they play Tulsa, South Florida, SMU and East Carolina to complete the regular season.
Cincinnati’s top result of the season was the 24-13 win at Notre Dame, which was ranked 10th in the initial rankings.
A mild surprise was Alabama landing in the No. 2 spot. The Crimson Tide lost to Texas A&M 41-38 on Oct. 9 before winning their past two games.
“There was a lot of consensus for Alabama to be No. 2,” said Barta, also indicating it took a few hours to hash out spots three through nine.
Michigan (7-1), which was knocked from the ranks of the unbeaten last weekend by Michigan State, is ranked seventh. That put the Wolverines one spot ahead of undefeated Oklahoma (9-0) of the Big 12.
Wake Forest (8-0) is No. 9 during a season in which Atlantic Coast Conference stalwart Clemson (5-3) has taken a deep nosedive. Notre Dame (7-1), an independent, completes the Top 10.
Oklahoma State (7-1) and Baylor (7-1) of the Big 12 checked in at No. 11 and 12 respectively. Two SEC schools follow in Auburn (6-2) and Texas A&M (6-2) with independent BYU (7-2) being No. 15.
Ole Miss (6-2) sits at 16th, followed by SEC rivals Mississippi State (5-3) and Kentucky (6-2). North Carolina State (6-2) of the ACC is 19th.
Minnesota (6-2) is 20th, followed by two other Big Ten programs in No. 21 Wisconsin (5-3) and No. 22 Iowa (6-2).
Mountain West schools Fresno State (7-2) and San Diego State (7-1) checked in at No. 23 and No. 24, respectively. No. 25 Pittsburgh (6-2) rounded out the rankings.
UTSA (8-0) of Conference USA is one of the nation’s six undefeated teams but didn’t crack the rankings.
–Field Level Media