The first set of College Football Playoff rankings created quite the uproar, just as they do every year. The Georgia Bulldogs and Alabama Crimson Tide dropped in with the first two spots, respectively.
After that, things got rather interesting. Michigan State and Oregon rounded out the final spots, and Ohio State and Cincinnati were the next two programs out of the playoff.
Despite being ranked No. 2 in the AP Top 25 and remaining undefeated, the Bearcats landed at No. 6. The shockwaves across the college football landscape carried throughout the country, with many chiming in.
One college football icon to touch on this fact is former Auburn head coach and current UCF coach Gus Malzahn.
Gus Malzahn is just as shocked as everybody with Cincinnati’s ranking
The longtime college football head coach did not hold back after the initial rankings were released. Before the announcement, questions swirled about Cincinnati’s projected spot.
When the rankings came out on Tuesday, immediate reactions came out — and for a good reason. Malzahn chimed in and got honest after the oversight of the Bearcats (h/t Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports).
“I thought they’d be No. 2 or No. 3, which they should be … It kind of blew my mind.”Gus Malzahn on Cincinnati’s Playoff ranking
Malzahn wasn’t the only one that expected Cincinnati to land at least in the top four. The expectation was that they would be there, even more after a massive victory against Notre Dame in South Bend.
But all that — for now — is meaningless. The Oregon Ducks and Ohio State Buckeyes sit in front of Cincinnati, and barring some losses from the first five teams, things look rough for Cincinnati’s chances of sneaking into the College Football Playoff.
The resume speaks for itself — or it should
On the surface, Cincinnati is 8-0 and has a massive boost in their resume with the victory against the Irish in October. Besides that, the rest of their schedule has been a relative breeze.
It isn’t entirely the Bearcats’ fault. The American Athletic Conference is a mediocre conference, to put it nicely. However, Houston and Southern Methodist both have 7-1 records on the year, but the Bearcats have yet to play either school.
Cincinnati’s toughest game remaining is against SMU in two weeks, and that would be the best shot for them to send the committee a statement.
Malzahn elaborated a bit more on Cincinnati, and the former Auburn head coach knows a thing or two about playing loaded teams from his SEC days (h/t Pete Thamel).
“I’ve played Georgia and Alabama every year. I know exactly what it looks like. [Cincinnati is] right there. They’re a team that can win the whole thing.”Gus Malzahn on the 2021 Bearcats squad
Oh, and Malzahn has seen this Cincinnati team first hand. On October 16, the Bearcats obliterated UCF by a score of 56-21, thanks to four rushing scores by Jerome Ford.
The committee’s oversight has been a talking point for the past couple of years, and it just got even worse with the latest set of rankings.
It will be an uphill battle for Cincinnati
Oregon beat Ohio State, which helped the Ducks sneak past the Buckeyes in the initial rankings. Michigan State is undefeated and fresh off a thrilling victory over Michigan. Alabama has one loss — to Texas A&M by a field goal back at the start of October. Georgia is undefeated and is primed to win the SEC regular-season title.
All of those teams are ahead of Cincinnati, and unfortunately, it will take a few bumps in the road for the Bearcats to jump any of those teams. It could happen, but things aren’t looking too pretty in Cincinnati for the time being.
An undefeated team with a victory against a Top 10 school — on the road, of all places — is overlooked. The following month in college football will be exciting, and if Cincinnati finished the year with zero losses and out of the College Football Playoff, changes might be in order soon.
Stats Courtesy of Sports Reference