In the beginning of the college football season in 2021, the top teams on many ranking systems were typical – Alabama, Oklahoma, Clemson, Ohio State, and Georgia.
What about 2020? The exact same teams in a different order – Clemson, Ohio State, Alabama, Georgia, and Oklahoma. What about 2019? The same exact teams.
The year 2018 was the first season when Wisconsin was top five instead of Oklahoma, but Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, and Ohio State were still the top four.
Did everyone end up being in top five at the end of the season? No, but those schools got the reputation from great recruiting and history to make them perennial top five contenders.
However, strange things have happened this year. Iowa and Cincinnati are in the top five!!
What surprises me the most is that Cincinnati is in there as a non-Power 5 conference team. There has never been a team selected for the college football playoffs from outside those conferences.
The college playoff committee has made an excuse that non-Power 5 conference teams did not have a good competition. Part of it is true, that some had easier match ups in past years.
However, this year is different for Cincinnati because they have beaten giants including Notre Dame and Indiana on the road. Notre Dame has been the committee’s darling team for many years, so beating Notre Dame in an away game shows that Cincinnati is worthy. If Cincinnati goes undefeated, it would be difficult not to include them as top 4.
Iowa is another story.
Generally, Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan get the media spotlight, but Iowa has taken care of business, including big wins against Indiana, Iowa State, and Penn State.
Currently, their biggest challenge is at Wisconsin on Oct. 30.
Overall, Big Ten teams are doing well (Iowa ranked No. 2, Ohio State No. 6, Penn State No. 7, Michigan No. 8, and Michigan State No. 10). Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, and Michigan State all play each other, so it will be a heck of competition at the end.