College Football Playoff Rankings 2021: Experts React to Week 13 Top 25 Poll

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistNovember 24, 2021

Cincinnati Bearcats cornerback Coby Bryant (7) plays during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Tulsa Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)
Jeff Dean/Associated Press

The College Football Playoff selection committee made the Cincinnati Bearcats the first-ever Group of Five program to be ranked inside the Top Four in the playoff era. 

Cincinnati jumped up to the No. 4 spot in Tuesday's rankings release after the Oregon Ducks fell to the Utah Utes on Saturday. 

College Football Playoff @CFBPlayoff

Here are the full #CFBPlayoff selection committee rankings for games played through November 20 and as we head into rivalry week Where does your team rank? 🏈🏆 https://t.co/MI4b9oUkc4

Cincinnati's placement in the Top Four made headlines among college football experts who have been waiting for this to happen all season for Luke Fickell's undefeated team.

CBS Sports' Tom Fornelli, Fox Sports' R.J. Young and Pro Football Focus' college football specific Twitter account were among those celebrating for the Bearcats. 

Tom Fornelli @TomFornelli


RJ Young @RJ_Young

Cincinnati finally becomes the first G5 team in history to be ranked No. 4 or better. That's awesome.

PFF College Football @PFF_College

CINCINNATI FINALLY MADE THE TOP-4 @GoBearcatsFB https://t.co/uerdr0mvH5

Cincinnati was ranked behind the Georgia Bulldogs, Ohio State Buckeyes and Alabama Crimson Tide by the selection committee. 

Selection committee chair Gary Barta outlined the decision to place Ohio State ahead of Alabama after the Crimson Tide were ranked at No. 2 last week, per AL.com's Mike Rodak: 

Mike Rodak @mikerodak

CFP chair Gary Barta on ESPN: “Two great teams, both Ohio State and Alabama. Both of them have Heisman Trophy candidates at quarterback. This past week, though, the dominating win over Michigan State certainly got the committee’s attention.

Alabama still has to play Georgia in the SEC Championship Game to get into the playoff. If the Crimson Tide lose next Saturday in Atlanta, it opens up a door for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Big 12 champion to fight for the No. 4 seed. 

Notre Dame checked in at No. 6 on Tuesday. The Irish could be No. 5 by next Tuesday since the Michigan Wolverines play Ohio State on Saturday. 

Brian Kelly's team finishes its season in Week 13 versus the Stanford Cardinal. It will likely have an 11-1 record with one loss to Cincinnati as its final resume. 

The Athletic's Chris Vannini tossed out a possibility of what Notre Dame fans may favor when it comes to the playoff rankings: 

Chris Vannini @ChrisVannini

I know this is weird, but if you’re an ND fan, would you rather get an NY6 game instead of playing Georgia in the CFP? A chance to end your season with good feelings.

Notre Dame is 0-2 in its CFB Playoff appearances. The Irish scored a combined 17 points in those matchups. The Irish could be jumped by the Big 12 champion depending on how the conference picture shakes out. 

Oklahoma State plays the Oklahoma Sooners in "Bedlam" on Saturday in what is now a battle of Top 10 teams, as CBS Sports' Jack Crosby pointed out: 

Jack Crosby @JCrosbyCBS

Bedlam is now a top-10 matchup with Oklahoma at No. 10

The Baylor Bears checked in at No. 8. They moved up three spots in the rankings, just like the Sooners did from No. 13 to No. 10.

If Oklahoma State and Baylor win Saturday, they will face each other in the Big 12 Championship Game. 

Oregon and Michigan State, who were in the Top 10 last week, fell to Nos. 11 and 12 after their large losses at the hands of the Utah Utes and Ohio State. 

The Wake Forest Demon Deacons suffered the worst fate of the Top 10 programs that lost in Week 12. The ACC side fell eight spots. The Athletic's Stewart Mandel quipped that the selection committee is done with the Demon Deacons: 

Stewart Mandel @slmandel

The committee is officially done with Wake Forest. (Drops 8 spots.)

The Clemson Tigers, who beat Wake Forest on Saturday, made their first appearance in the playoff rankings at No. 23. 

Clemson and No. 19 Utah were the two notable teams ranked in the bottom half of the Top 25. 

There will two more rankings released this season. The next one will be next Tuesday after the final regular-season slate of games. The final release comes on December 5, when the playoff participants will be named.