Cincinnati has made history as the highest-ranked Group of 5 program in the CFP era. It’s also the first time a Group of 5 team has made it inside the top 4 of the CFP rankings.

The Bearcats (11-0)  moved into the top 4 after a 48-14 win over SMU. They currently sit just 1 spot ahead of Michigan.

CFP chair Gary Barta was asked Tuesday night if there was much separation between the Bearcats and a trio of Big 12 teams behind them in the rankings, and did a bit of posturing.

“We don’t really talk about separation, we talk about teams in clusters,” said Barta. “Cincinnati, one of the things we’ve talked about all year, is that win at Notre Dame continues to look better with every passing week. And this past week, the win they had against SMU, SMU came in 8-2. Desmond Ridder just continues to show why he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the country. Their defense is playing strong. Cincinnati at 4, the committee felt strongly about not really comparing them to the Big 12 directly.”

Then the question was raised whether or not Cincinnati was closer in the committee’s eyes to the rest of the top 4—Georgia, Ohio State, and Alabama—or to the 3 teams behind it—Michigan, Notre Dame, and Oklahoma State. Barta said the committee looked at them in both buckets.

“The honest answer is when we were looking at clusters, we looked at Cincinnati both up with 1 through 3 and we also looked at Cincinnati compared to 5, 6, and 7,” said Barta. “They were compared to both groups and they ended up at 4.”

Asked plainly if they were an easy choice at No. 4 or if there was a thin margin between the Bearcats and No. 5 Michigan, Barta was somewhat vague.

“We’ve had a lot of respect for Cincinnati all year,” said Barta. “We certainly have talked about their strength of schedule. But this win against SMU, when we were looking at the way they played offensively and defensively, they came in at 4. There’s a lot of discussion, there’s 13 members of the committee. There’s certainly a disagreement at times, but when the vote came down, they were at 4 and Michigan was at 5.”

We’ll see how Cincinnati does the rest of the way. The Bearcats’ next game will be against East Carolina (7-4) on Friday, Nov. 26, at 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC.