College Football Power Rankings: Cincinnati, Michigan step up big ahead of conference title games

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Among the many problems with the College Football Playoff is its, well, exclusivity. Some might even call it a monopoly. Through seven seasons of the CFP, only 12 teams have played in it.

That’s about to change. Maybe.

Week 13’s upheaval put at least three newbies in line for a playoff berth. Cincinnati you’ve known about. The Bearcats completed an undefeated season spiced with two Power Five wins. Oklahoma State, the state’s “Little Brother”, rose up and knocked off its despised rival, Oklahoma.

And what about Michigan? Not exactly a newcomer to the national scene with the most wins in college football history, but finally beating Ohio State — the program with the second-most all-time wins — in a de facto CFP elimination match was something special. The Wolverines stayed alive for at least one more week.

As we wind down, the CFP is ensured to see some variety in Year 8. Clemson and Ohio State will not be in. Alabama barely remains alive. If form holds and the top four in the Power Rankings win, you are staring at a reflection of what an expanded playoff looks like: fresh. Consider the thrills associated with these possible semifinals:

No 1 Georgia vs. No 4 Oklahoma State: Kirby vs the Cowboys. The Dawgs’ withering pass rush vs. the Pokes’ almost equally stout defense. Absence (from playing each other) makes the uncertainty grow stronger. The team have met four times, the last 12 years ago.

No. 2 Cincinnati vs No. 3 Michigan: This has the look of a really neat nonconference game….


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