College football is both the best and worst sport. It’s the best because of the drama and emotion. It’s the worst because of insane narratives drawn up by media and fans.
The best example of this is how Group of Five teams don’t deserve to make the Playoffs.
Now, as a Cincinnati alum, I’m going to use them as my example and proof throughout this article.
“But the schedule…”
This is always going to be the argument that holds back Group of Five schools (see UCF 2017, 2018).
Listen, no one is claiming Cincinnati plays a tougher schedule than Ohio State or Oklahoma or Oregon. But you can only play the teams on your schedule. Plus, they willingly chose to play 2 P5 road games in September. Notre Dame was ranked top 10 and had the second longest home winning streak and Indiana was coming off it’s most successful season in forever with high expectations this year.
Here is the key point – just because you might play lesser conference competition, doesn’t mean you aren’t a great team. Both can be true – Cincinnati can play in a conference not as good as SEC or Big Ten, but can also be a great team.
All ranked wins are not created equal
RJ Young of FOX Sports recently claimed Iowa is a tier 2 team in his weekly rankings. That’s true and not a problem. What is a problem is his rationale. Young uses a fake metric called “wins against teams ranekd at the time of game”. As a result, Iowa has 2 ranked wins in 2021 – Indiana (#17 at the time) and Iowa State (#8 at the time). Indiana, since opening the season at #17, is 2-3 and Iowa State is 2-2. Neither team is currently ranked.
[NOTE – this was written before Iowa’s win over Penn State. The point being made still stands and is not meant to discredit Iowa, but rather the notion of ranked victories.]
So, according to Young, because Iowa played Indiana week 1 and they were ranked because…..because…..because a bunch of pollsters decided they should be? Based on….uh…last year? Because of that, Indiana is a big win for Iowa.
But Cincinnati, who played on the road, unlike Iowa, does not get the same credit for beating Indiana.
This is true across the board. Wisconsin is 1-3. Penn State, Notre Dame and Michigan don’t get credit for a “ranked” win. BYU doesn’t get credit for beating a “ranked” Utah. This idea that because a team was pre-season ranked so the win is extra special, is just silly.
Make it make sense…
“Cincy will get blown out in CFP”.
Maybe. Honestly, probably. But look at Alabama and Georgia. 128 teams would be blown out by either one of them – yes, OSU, Oklahoma, Iowa, anyone that plays Alabama and Georgia will get blown out. Just because a team will get blown out, doesn’t mean they don’t deserve it.
Plus, history suggests there WILL be blowouts no matter who is playing
- 2014 – Oregon beat Florida State 59-20
- 2015 – Clemson beat Oklahoma 37-17
- 2015 – Alabama beat Michigan State 38-0
- 2016 – Alabama beat Washington 24-7
- 2016 – Clemson beat Ohio State 31-0
- 2017 – Alabama beat Clemson 24-6
- 2018 – Clemson beat Notre Dame 30-3
- 2019 – LSU beat Oklahoma 63-28
- 2020 – Alabama beat Notre Dame 31-14
- 2020 – Ohio State beat Clemson 49-28
2 shutouts and 4 games total where one team didn’t score a touchdown. But yes, let’s claim “Cincy will get blown out” as a reason not to include them IF they are deemed worthy.
“Cincy would be 4 TD underdogs against top teams”
Okay? Underdog means someone in Vegas thinks one team is better than the other and that is shown via points spread. That people that set the spreads are entitled to their opinions, but they don’t determine the outcomes.
Texas A&M was recently an 18.5 point underdog against Alabama. Fortunately for them, they played the game and shocked the world in a win.
Maybe Cincinnati would lose. Maybe they would lose by 4 touchdowns. Or maybe they would pull a Texas A&M? Or pull off what is been done thousands of times in the history of football – winning a game people didn’t expect a team to win.
Using hypothetical point spreads as a talking point for why a team doesn’t belong in the convo is just stupid.
The past is in the past
The 2021 Cincinnati Bearcats are currently 5-0. This roster and coaching staff did not play Georgia. Did not play Ohio State. Did not play Michigan. Why do old games matter? Because people will say anything to prove their point, even if it means contradicting themselves.
People will cite history for why Cincinnati can’t compete against the big boys. 10 months ago, Cincinnati lost to Georgia by 3. I heard a rumor that maybe Georgia had some key guys sit out that game, but the are still an SEC powerhouse with 5 stars all over the field. By the way, little publicized fact – Cincinnati also had guys miss the game including All-American CB Sauce Gardner.
Cincinnati fans will bring up the game against Georgia as proof that Cincinnati can “hang with the big boys”. In many cases, I have seen this point countered with “what happened against Ohio State”. In 2019, Cincinnati lost 42-0 in Desmond Ridder’s 14th career start.
So while the results of 10 months ago are discarded, people like to bring up 42-0 loss to Ohio St from 2019. This game was week 2. It was Ridder’s 14th start in college. He’s now made 40 starts. RB Jerome Ford was still at Alabama, most of these WRs weren’t there, and the defense was completely different including the coach.
But please, tell me more how that 2019 loss, or even the 2020 Peach Bowl loss, has anything to do with the 2021 team.