I love one thing above everything else in college football — chaos! I don’t really care how it’s served, I simply want more of it. Specifically, I want it when it comes to the Heisman and the College Football Playoff.
So, let’s talk about Cincinnati. For months we (well, at least me) circled this latest stretch of games: at Indiana and at Notre Dame. For a Group of 5 program trying to finally break through the playoff barrier, this was the most meaningful spot.
And the Bearcats delivered, first beating Indiana as a short favorite a few weeks ago then validating that win with a more meaningful 24-13 victory against Notre Dame last Saturday.
Cincinnati, which closed as a two-point road favorite in that matchup, beat the Irish by double digits thanks in part to a large helping of defense. It wasn’t utter domination, though it was plenty impressive. With that, Cincinnati passed one of its biggest tests of the year on a weekend when others couldn’t do the same. Oregon lost outright as a touchdown-ish favorite to Stanford. Ole Miss and Arkansas, two unbeatens, fell to mighty Alabama and Georgia.
With the exception of an Oklahoma loss, this was as good of a weekend as Cincinnati could’ve hoped for. The Bearcats are now 20/1 at BetMGM to win the national title — behind just Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State and Oklahoma, and ahead of Penn State. Quarterback Desmond Ridder is also now the No. 3 selection on the BetMGM Heisman odds board at 14/1.
They have a shot. Let’s not talk about the fact that Cincinnati would still have to beat Alabama or Georgia to cash that 20/1 ticket — at least not yet. The fact that a Group of 5 team has those kinds of odds as we enter Week 6 is welcomed.
Here’s what Cincinnati has remaining: vs. Temple, vs. Central Florida, at Navy, at Tulane, vs. Tulsa, at USF, vs. SMU and at East Carolina. The matchup against SMU certainly jumps out at first glance, though each one of these games feels extremely winnable.
Barring injury, the Bearcats likely will be sizable favorites from that point forward. And with Oregon’s loss, a CFP vacancy is beginning to open.
The problem? Perfection is needed. Anything less and the playoff dream is likely undone. But for now, embrace the possibility of chaos and hope there is more to come.
Tidbits and observations
• Though I would love to see Cincinnati in the playoff, this feels like a season that is destined to end with Alabama-Georgia, right? Both have been the most impressive teams in CFB this year, and the updated future odds reflect that. Alabama is 3/2 and Georgia is +175, which is somewhat amazing given how much football there is still to play. I get it, though. Both teams, while different, are enormously talented.
• It’s time for us to start talking about Pittsburgh’s starting quarterback. Kenny Pickett threw for four more touchdowns on Saturday in a blowout win over Georgia Tech, and he has accounted for 21 touchdowns and thrown for only one interception in five games. Though it’ll be a challenge for a quarterback at Pitt to win the Heisman — and that’s putting it mildly — the performance is noteworthy. I checked on his Heisman odds late Saturday, and he was still at 75/1 (I couldn’t help but throw in a bet). Pickett is down to 35/1 at BetMGM.
Adam Kramer analyzes college football for VSiN’s Point Spread Weekly