Alabama Football: Focusing on how good Cincy is and isn’t


All season long, when discussing Alabama Football and the CFB Playoffs, there has been a consistent theme. One half of that theme has been, in a major rebuilding season, the Alabama Crimson Tide would have to prove it was Playoff worthy. It took most of the season, but if there were any doubts left, the Crimson Tide silenced them in the SEC Championship game.

The other half of the Playoff theme has been that certain teams were overrated and not legitimate Championship contenders. Among the teams cited as pretenders, the Cincinnati Bearcats stood out. Now that Luke Fickell’s team is in the Playoffs, they deserve a fresh look.

There are two good starting points. Many college football fans demean the human judgments of the Selection Committee. Unless college football fans want to just rely on popularity contests, the only alternative to human thinking is using computer algorithms. Let’s look at one that was used in the BCS era and is respected today.

Using Jeff Sagarin’s algorithm to review the rankings for college football conferences and divisions.

  1. SEC – West
  2. Big Ten – East
  3. Big 12
  4. Big Ten – West
  5. ACC – Atlantic
  6. SEC – East
  7. Pac 12 – North
  8. Pac 12 – South
  9. ACC – Coastal
  10. Mountain West (MWC) – Mountain
  11. MWC – West
  12. American Athletic (AAC)

In Sagarin’s rankings by teams, he has a Top 16 of:

  1. Alabama – Schedule Rank (SR) – 6
  2. Georgia – SR – 36
  3. Ohio State – SR – 21
  4. Michigan – SR – 31
  5. Notre Dame – SR – 41
  6. Cincinnati – SR – 79
  7. Oklahoma State – SR – 12
  8. Utah – SR – 34
  9. Oklahoma – SR – 53
  10. Clemson – SR – 56
  11. Ole Miss – SR – 24
  12. Pittsburgh – SR – 69
  13. Baylor – SR – 35
  14. Wisconsin – SR – 7
  15. Texas A&M – SR – 46
  16. Penn State – SR – 14

Looking at the two sets of data points, it appears the Selection Committee had little respect for Cincinnati’s AAC opponents, but that did not severely diminish the committee’s opinion of the Bearcats. Cincinnati also had the undefeated season trump card, and a good, road win over Notre Dame. The Selection Committee also used its ‘eye test’ standard to determine the Bearcats were one of college football’s four-best teams.

Are the Bearcats what the Selection Committee believes to be one of the four best? Or, is the season-long, national groundswell of support for Cincinnati largely a product of ‘same old teams’ and Alabama Football fatigue?

During the week leading up to Christmas, Bama Hammer will drill deep into the Crimson vs. Bearcats Playoff contest. Putting aside a crimson-colored view of the college football world, we will compare the position groups of each team and assess the competitive advantages and disadvantages.

Next. Ranking SEC Bowl Games from Best to Worst. dark

In the interim, Alabama football fans can ponder on the recent picks by 11, CBS Sports college football experts. All 11 picked the Crimson Tide to beat the Bearcats.