Overtime: What’s the Point?

Even in a year that more teams have fallen than ever before, the College Football Playoff looks like more of the same, begging the question, “what’s the point?”


Cincinnati is beginning to make an argument to be in the Playoff that the committee cannot ignore. (Courtesy of Twitter)

Every year, fans play the same song and dance in the college football season. They enter it with the promise of perfection, potential Playoff aspirations, only to see the same four teams in the mix at the end of it and their own relegated to a meaningless bowl game.

It is a problem that the NCAA seems bound to address. There are rumors of a playoff expansion on the way to not four, six or eight but a whopping 12 teams. However, those movements seem to always reach a hiccup, and for now, the Playoff remains the same.

That has become especially clear in a year like this – one where there are very clearly no four best teams in the country. The University of Georgia stands tall above the rest at 9-0, led by a fantastic defense allowing a mere 6.6 points per game.

No team outside of that has proven much this season. The University of Alabama, routinely the country’s sweetheart, suffered a loss to Texas A&M while narrowly squeezing by Louisiana State University at home this past Saturday.

The University of Oregon is on a crash course to the PAC-12 Championship, even though they have garnered very few style points along the way and own an ugly loss to Stanford University themselves. Ahead of the Ducks is the Ohio State Buckeyes, the team they defeated in week two.

Next is Oklahoma University, the top dog in a limping BIG 12 conference, who remains undefeated but has looked so inconsistent that many believe it is only a matter of time until they fall.

So, in a year like this one, where every team has proven to be vulnerable, how is the College Football Playoff Committee expected to choose its top four? It comes back to the age-old argument of the best teams versus the most deserving.

That first set of rankings that came out last Tuesday featured Georgia, followed by the Crimson Tide, Michigan State University and the Ducks. Now, with the Spartans receiving a firm defeat to Purdue University, Ohio State will likely slide right in its place.

There is one big missing piece in all of this, the University of Cincinnati. The American Conference’s Bearcats sit at 9-0 on the season, the latest example of a Group of Five school making a run to the Playoff. And it seemed like they were on their way there, receiving a top four nod in both the AP and Coaches’ polls. The Committee knocked them down to sixth instead.

How could two national polls, and an entire country, see Cincinnati as a top four team only for the Committee to look the other way? Some may cry out that their schedule is not strong enough. At the season’s end, it is very likely Georgia will not have faced a top 25 team whereas the Bearcats defeated the University of Notre Dame. Others will say their wins have not been convincing enough, that they do not pass the eye test. Cincinnati has the fourth-largest scoring margin in the country.

Those arguments do not apply, especially in a muddle season like this one. Instead, there is one possible hypothetical. Could a team that runs the table, goes undefeated and wins a conference championship, really be left out of the Playoff regardless of where they come from?

These are the questions the Playoff Committee will reckon with this season. Regardless of how Cincinnati wins, as long as they keep doing so, the pressure on the NCAA will become too much to ignore. To leave them out would show that a Group of Five school has no chance of reaching the postseason, the feeling the Playoff was created to eliminate.

There simply are no best four teams this season. It is about who deserves it the most, and an undefeated Bearcats team certainly does, more so than the same old teams in it right now. Don’t believe me? I’m saying that with an Oregon jersey on my chest. Place them right ahead of the Ducks and in the Playoff.