All season long, pundits have questioned whether the College Football Playoff committee would allow Cincinnati to rise into the top four of its rankings and potentially play for a national championship. The committee answered that question on Tuesday night with a resounding yes.
The Bearcats (11-0) landed at No. 4 in the latest CFP rankings, and the remaining schedule appears favorable for Cincinnati’s playoff hopes.
Cincinnati has clear path to national championship shot
Cincinnati crushed SMU 48-14 on Saturday, scoring the first 48 points of the game in a dominant performance. They have one last regular season game at East Carolina on Friday, then will take on No. 24 Houston in the AAC Championship game the following weekend.
“We’ve had a lot of respect for Cincinnati all year,” CFP committee chair Gary Barta told ESPN. “But this win against SMU, the way they played offensively and defensively, we had a lot of opinions, but they came in at four.”
Cincinnati’s national championship odds continued to rebound on that news. FanDuel Sportsbook now lists the Bearcats as a +4000 pick to win the title, up from +6000 last week.
Ohio State (10-1) made the other big move near the top of the rankings, rising to No. 2 after a 56-7 demolition of Michigan State on Saturday. That pushed the Buckeyes past Alabama (10-1), which fell to No. 3 after another close win – this time 42-35 over Arkansas.
The Buckeyes are now +300 to win the national championship, with Alabama at +400. Georgia (11-0) still leads the national championship odds at -125.
For those who want to see Cincinnati in the national championship picture, the remaining schedule provides reason for optimism. Georgia will still play Alabama in the SEC Championship Game, while Ohio State must take on No. 5 Michigan (10-1). That means that other top contenders will lose games. And while Georgia should survive a single loss, the other three teams mentioned probably can’t afford to take a second defeat and finish ahead of Cincinnati.
Oregon loss effectively eliminates Pac-12 from title picture
In addition, the Pac-12 lost its most likely path to a playoff bid on Saturday when No. 19 Utah (8-3) knocked off Oregon (9-2) 38-7. The loss pushed the Ducks to No. 11 in the CFP rankings and out of serious national championship contention.
On the other hand, the Big 12 could still play a factor in deciding the final four. No. 7 Oklahoma State (10-1) plays No. 10 Oklahoma (10-1) this weekend, with the winner picking up a huge resume builder. There’s also Baylor (9-2), which sits at No. 8 and could make the Big 12 Championship Game if Oklahoma State beats Oklahoma.
|College Football Playoff Rankings (Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook)|
|Record||National Championship Odds|
|No. 1 Georgia||11-0||-125|
|No. 2 Ohio State||10-1||+300|
|No. 3 Alabama||10-1||+400|
|No. 4 Cincinnati||11-0||+4000|
|No. 5 Michigan||10-1||+5000|
|No. 6 Notre Dame||10-1||+6000|
|No. 7 Oklahoma State||10-1||+4000|
|No. 8 Baylor||9-2||+20000|
|No. 9 Ole Miss||9-2||Unlisted|
|No. 10 Oklahoma||10-1||+5000|
All three of those teams have some hope of making the CFP playoff if they win out. Oklahoma State has the best national championship odds at +4000, with Oklahoma (+5000) close behind and Baylor (+20000) still on the board as a long shot.
Also still in the mix is No. 6 Notre Dame (10-1). The Fighting Irish will likely finish their season 11-1 with a win over Stanford on Saturday, putting them in wait and see mode as they hope for chaos in front of them in the CFP standings.