This year’s College Football Playoff will be the eighth installment. And though a lot of the same teams appear in the playoff year after year, the 2021 edition is likely to look a lot different with the inclusion of Cincinnati.
The No. 4 Bearcats finished their season 13-0 following a 35-20 rout of Houston in the American Athletic Conference title game Saturday.
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Desmond Ridder’s three passing touchdowns and Jerome Ford’s two scores on the ground led the way. Cincinnati is now widely expected to become the first Group of 5 school to make the playoff. Seemingly everyone is in their corner, too.
The supporters include conference foe UCF, which went 12-0 and won AAC titles in both 2017 and 2018 but failed to make the playoff, yet still crowned itself national champion.
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The Bearcats picked up two ranked wins this year, including a 24-13 victory over then-No. 9 Notre Dame in South Bend, a result that will likely keep the Fighting Irish out of this year’s playoff. This is the second season in a row Luke Fickell’s squad has won the AAC title and gone undefeated in the regular season. Last year, it lost to Georgia 24-21 in the Peach Bowl.
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UCF, along with Houston and BYU, will join Cincinnati in the Big 12 starting with the 2023 season.