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College Footall Playoff rankings: Bearcats not a sure thing yet

UC is closing in on a College Football Playoff spot amid a cloud of coaching rumors.
Published: Nov. 30, 2021 at 7:13 PM EST
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - The University of Cincinnati Bearcats (12-0) are in the middle of a playoff race.

For UC’s fanbase, it bears repeating.

The Bearcats stayed at no. 4 in the College Football Playoff Committee’s penultimate rankings released Tuesday night. That puts UC in an enviable place heading into conference championship weekend. Oddsmakers say there’s a good chance the team gets in.

So why is the mood surrounding the program so different from this time last week?

Monday’s bombshell news of Brian Kelly leaving Notre Dame for LSU has a lot to do with it. UC’s Luke Fickell has long been rumored to covet the Notre Dame job, and fears are mounting that he could repeat Kelly’s thief-in-the-night departure from Clifton.

Fickell’s jerky, muddled answer on Tuesday to rumors about the Notre Dame job inspired little confidence. There’s been no confirmed interaction between him and Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick, but the vacancy in South Bend remains a pall over Bearcats nation.

And yet!—if the season ended today, the Bearcats would face Georgia on Dec. 31.

But first, they must beat no. 21 Houston in the American Athletic Conference Championship Game at Nippert Stadium on Saturday. And still there are scenarios where the Bearcats get dropped from the final four.

No. 1 Georgia and no. 3 Alabama face off in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game on the same day. If Alabama wins, they will likely get in together with Georgia.

As unlikely as it is, an Alabama win with an Oklahoma State win in the BIG12 Championship Game could spell trouble for UC.

In that scenario, considering the playoff committee’s historical preference for Power Five teams over Group of Five teams, no. 5 Oklahoma State could vault over the Bearcats, leaving Cincinnati out of the playoffs.

CFP Rankings Top 10:

  • 1. Georgia (12-0)
  • 2. Michigan (11-1)
  • 3. Alabama (11-1)
  • 4. Cincinnati (12-0)
  • 5. Oklahoma State (11-1)
  • 6. Notre Dame (11-1)
  • 7. Ohio State (9-2)
  • 8. Ole Miss (10-2)
  • 9. Baylor (10-2)
  • 10. Oregon (10-2)

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