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Texas A&M Football

Around CFB: The thin case for Cincinnati, BYU and the College Football Playoff

November 11, 2020
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Some just insist on making things harder than necessary.

A prime example is the discussion about whether Cincinnati or BYU can get into the College Football Playoff.

Group of 5 advocates will note both could go undefeated. They laud quarterbacks Desmond Ridder of Cincinnati and Zach Wilson of BYU. They will quote defensive statistics. They will recite the cliché that any team can win in a one-game scenario.

However, detractors can look at the caliber of competition and suggest those gaudy statistics compiled by the Bearcats and Cougars are misleading.

BYU’s seven opponents are 20-29. Its best victory is over currently unranked Boise State, which was without starting quarterback Hank Bachmeier.

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Cincinnati dominated SMU, 42-13, in a battle of top-20 teams.

Cincinnati’s best victory is over No. 19 SMU, which squeaked by Texas State and beat Tulane in overtime.

The point/counterpart joust could go on and on, but that’s making the issue harder than it has to be.

The solution is rather simple. Just ask this question: If your paycheck was at stake, would you pick BYU or Cincinnati to beat Florida?

If there is even a hint of a doubt — and there should be much more than that — the issue is settled.

Of course, some will contend that BYU or Cincinnati would roll Florida because of the Gators’ perceived weakness. That would be ignoring the fact that Florida faces much tougher competition.

Even Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell isn’t campaigning for a spot in the playoff. That’s probably because he previously coached at Ohio State and understands the significant difference in the level of play.

“When it comes down to it, they’ll (CFP committee) figure out who the best four teams are, who’s playing the best at that time,’’ Fickell told the Cincinnati Enquirer this week. “If there’s bias, there’s bias. I know that me pounding my chest and saying a whole lot about it is probably going to do nothing other than distract me and some of our guys. We’ll try to stay humble, hungry and focused."

And stay realistic.

Barring major upsets, unbeaten Alabama, Notre Dame and Ohio State will get three of the playoff berths. Notre Dame, which beat Clemson last week, would likely get in even if the Irish lost an ACC championship game rematch with Clemson.

But let’s say for — argument's sake — Alabama, Notre Dame and Ohio State all finish unbeaten.

“I know that me pounding my chest and saying a whole lot about it is probably going to do nothing other than distract me and some of our guys. We’ll try to stay humble, hungry and focused."
- Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell

Clemson might be out because of a second loss to Notre Dame. A Pac-12 champion would probably be out based on irrelevancy. Florida, which already has one loss, would be out based on a projected second loss to Alabama.

Assuming Texas A&M finishes with one loss — that being to Alabama — Cincinnati and BYU would be debating their worthiness against the Aggies.

But would Cincinnati and/or BYU beat Florida? Probably not. However, Texas A&M did. That should be case closed.

Some in the national media probably would not accept that. They’d still argue that Cincinnati and/or BYU could beat Florida. Of course, things change from year to year, but there is a precedent that indicates that’s probably not the case.

Cincinnati was unbeaten and ranked No. 3 in the nation in the final BCS standings of 2009. The Bearcats were upset that Texas and Alabama were chosen to compete for the national championship. Instead, Cincinnati was went to the Sugar Bowl to play No. 5 Florida.

Cincinnati lost 55-24.

Heisman watch (If my ballot was due today)

1. Kyle Trask, Florida, QB: There is no good reason not to rank Trask as the leader now. He’s thrown at least four touchdown passes in every game. That includes two games against Top 15 opponents (No. 5 Texas A&M and No. 12 Georgia). He passed for 474 yards and four scores in a 44-28 victory over Georgia last week. Overall, Trask has thrown for 1,815 yards and 22 touchdowns in five games.

2. Trevor Lawrence, Clemson, QB: He needs to get back on the field after sitting out two games with COVID-19, and Clemson certainly needs him back as the Tigers clearly aren’t the same team without him. He’s thrown for 1,833 yards and 17 touchdowns in six games. He’s also rushed for four touchdowns.

3. Mac Jones, Alabama, QB: A strong case could be made that he should be ranked No. 1. He’s passed for 2,196 yards and 16 touchdowns in six games. That also includes games against Texas A&M and Georgia. He’s thrown four touchdown passes in three games.

Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
Justin Fields is off to a hot start as the Buckeyes appear to be the top dog in the Big Ten again.

4. Justin Fields, Ohio State, QB: He appears to be getting support from the national media for his fast start. No doubt, he’s deserving of consideration. He’s completing 86.7 percent of his attempts. Fields has thrown for 908 yards and 11 touchdowns in three games. Pump the brakes, though. Those three games are against porous Nebraska and Rutgers, along with Penn State. On the surface, his 318-yard, four-touchdown performance against Penn State is awesome. Except, Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa also lit up the Nits. Fields will get a boost when playing better opponents. But who is that in the Big Ten?

5. Najee Harris, Alabama, RB: An idle week prevented Harris from padding his considerable statistics. He’s rushed for 714 yards and has scored 14 touchdowns. He’s also caught 20 passes for 183 yards.

Predicted Playoff Participants

1. Alabama: The defense is vulnerable but shows signs of progress. The offense is good enough to compensate if necessary.

2. Ohio State: The Buckeyes are powerful. No other team in the Big Ten appears to be close to being in their class.

3. Notre Dame: No matter what happens in the ACC Championship Game, the Irish can claim a victory over Clemson.

4. Clemson: Clemson was without quarterback Trevor Lawrence and a couple of defensive starters in the loss to Notre Dame. They all figure to be play if there is a rematch.

This week’s games to watch

No. 2 Notre Dame at Boston College: Could the Irish be entering a trap? Notre Dame could have an emotional letdown after last week’s win over Clemson. A road trip to Chestnutt Hill isn’t a win to be taken for granted. Also, BC quarterback Phil Jurkovec started his career in South Bend.

No. 3 Ohio State at Maryland: The Buckeyes typically could overlook Maryland and be fine. But these Terps are different, as Minnesota and Penn State can attest.

No. 13 Wisconsin at Michigan: Just finding out whether or not Wisconsin will play is high drama. Watching Michigan try not to totally collapse is, too.

Arkansas at No. 6 Florida: We’ve learned the Razorbacks cannot be taken for granted. Like Notre Dame, Florida could be vulnerable after last week’s big win over Georgia.

No. 9 Miami at Virginia Tech: The Hurricanes desperately need a win to maintain their championship aspirations. Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente desperately needs a win after last week’s loss to Liberty.

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Discussion from...

Around CFB: The thin case for Cincinnati, BYU and the College Football Playoff

1,943 Views | 4 Replies | Last: 3 mo ago by TopoTacos
Matsui
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1996OlAg
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OKG2000
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AG
if Notredame gets beaten by Clemson in the ACC Championship game, margin of victory will play a role primarily because Trevor was not playing along with some others in the first game. Now if notredame loses and happens to have some key players out, it could also give them an in...
TopoTacos
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AG
Ideally, the playoff would get expanded to 8 teams and there would be some sort of mechanism for highest G5 squad to get a spot, as we've seen in the past where dominant G5 teams show, year over year, that they can absolutely stomp their divisions and P5 competition (think mid 00's Boise and TCU, or back to back undefeated season UCF under Frost). Were that the case, Cincy probably has the best argument for a shot at glory...

but as it stands I don't think their end of season resume is going to stand up to 1-loss P5 squad, especially now that Clemson was without Lawrence (and half their defense) against ND.
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