Cincinnati is knocking on the top-four door. Are there twists left in its Playoff pursuit? – The Athletic

Four takeaways and much more from Week 12 in college football, which delivered some long-awaited clarity on both the College Football Playoff and Heisman Trophy races.

The sea parts for Cincinnati

Well, how about that? Everything is suddenly going Cincinnati’s way, which feels like an extremely dangerous development. Because it gives us hope, even if this system has annually offered no reason for any.

Can Cincinnati actually pull this off and get into the College Football Playoff? It really is starting to look that way. If Bearcats fans have jotted down their wish list of ideal developments toward that end, they had to be grinning as they crossed a few off the list on Saturday night.

The demise of No. 3 Oregon is a bummer for the Pac-12 and a blessing for the possibility of a Group of 5 school finally being deemed worthy of a spot in the top four. You knew there was a good chance that Utah was the team that could take the Ducks down, whether this week or in the Pac-12 title game. But you had to expect a much more competitive game than the one we got Saturday night, a 38-7 rout that felt like it was all locked up by halftime. It was a brutal, mistake-filled night for the Ducks. Now there’s one less team standing in Cincinnati’s way.

They knew that Ohio State-Michigan State would deliver some helpful clarity, and it sure did. The No. 7 Spartans are also out of the race after utterly falling apart in a 56-7 loss in Columbus in a game that stopped being competitive very quickly. Yes, Michigan State was already ranked behind Cincinnati, but after another loss by a big margin, that’s one less team they have to worry about sneaking up on them at the end. No. 10 Wake Forest losing to Clemson sure did not hurt, either.

But really, we’re burying the lede here a bit.

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