The Bearcats are behind one of the most dominant teams in college football, but what will it take for them to make a run at the playoffs?
I think that the will uc bearcats make the ncaa tournament is a really interesting question. Cincinnati has been playing well, but they are still not in the playoff picture. If they do make it, how will their schedule look?
The College Football Playoff selection committee passed on an unbeaten Cincinnati team a year ago. As the Bearcats prepare for a critical two-game road trip to Indiana and Notre Dame, we wonder whether they have a chance to be the first Group of 5 club to make the playoffs this season.
The simple answer is that, according to the Allstate Playoff Predictor, it’s very improbable (sorry Bearcats fans). It’s just a 3% probability. But there’s a lengthy answer here, too, with a glimmer of optimism for Desmond Ridder fans if they look hard enough at the calendar. Because a big portion of Playoff Predictor’s pessimism stems from the fact that it doesn’t believe the Bearcats have a good chance of winning out.
Cincinnati is excellent, but only as good as the 21st-best team in the nation, according to FPI. On the surface, it doesn’t seem to be playoff-worthy. While the Bearcats’ schedule isn’t especially difficult, it does include three games against top-40 FPI teams (Notre Dame, Indiana, and UCF) as well as four games against top-50 teams (Notre Dame, Indiana, and UCF) (Tulane). Cincinnati’s chances of winning are, well, 3 percent. Due to rounding, the probability of reaching the playoffs seems to be the same, but it is not: If the Bearcats win out and win their conference title, they will have a 61 percent chance of making the playoffs. That’s not terrible at all!
To get there, the Bearcats will either have to be very fortunate the rest of the way, or they will have to prove themselves to be better than we think they are. However, in universes where they go 13-0, they are probably better than we believe.
To be honest, we’re talking about the longest of shots here. The Bearcats have a chance to break the pattern, but they’re more likely to wind themselves on the outside looking in like every other Group of 5 playoff contender.
What if Cincinnati was now a member of the Big 12?
What if that’s the case? Is Cincinnati being held back by the AAC? Or even the city of Cincinnati? To attempt to address this issue, we swapped Cincinnati and Texas Tech (sorry, Red Raiders) and ran a season simulation, giving one team the schedule of the other.
We recreated the preseason using current FPI ratings — important since Cincinnati’s position in FPI’s eyes has improved in recent months — and contrasted Cincinnati’s performance in the Big 12 and the AAC.
In the AAC, the Bearcats had a 3% preseason probability of making the playoffs, while in the Big 12, they had a 0.9 percent chance. The truth is that the Big 12 schedule they would get would be much more tough than the one they now have.
What would the Big 12 look like now that it’s been realigned?
Cincinnati will soon be a member of the Big 12. However, how will the Big 12 conference fare? It’s difficult to see into the crystal ball so far ahead of time, but we tried: We relocated UCF, Cincinnati, BYU, and Houston to the Big 12, and Oklahoma and Texas to the SEC, then compared FPI ratings for the “new leagues.”
There’s some good news for the Big 12 in this article: It would be the fourth-best league in terms of average FPI rating right now, after the SEC, Big Ten, and ACC, but significantly ahead of the Pac-12, even without OU and Texas. The American would remain the finest conference in the country.
We looked back at the prior three seasons since one year doesn’t often convey the whole picture. The redesigned Big 12 would have finished fifth in the conference’s average FPI rating in 2018, fourth in 2019, and even third in 2022. (ahead of the ACC and Pac-12).
|Conference||FPI Average||FPI Rank Average|
|Athletic Association of the United States||-5.6||82.3|
|West of the Mountains||-6.7||90.3|
|Conference in the United States||-8.3||96.6|
|Independents on FBS||-11.8||90.7|
This essay was written with the help of Lauren Poe.
The cfp rankings is a website that ranks college football teams based on their conference and overall record. Cincinnati has been ranked as the number 2 team in the nation, but they have not yet had a chance to prove themselves against top competition.