One of the biggest gripes about the four-team format with the College Football Playoff is that teams from the Group of 5 conferences don’t have a realistic shot to earn a bid. Over the last seven years, none of the “little guys” have received a shot to play for a national championship.

Josh Pate of 247Sports and The Late Kick with Josh Pate thinks that could change this year. He says if Cincinnati — a projected Top 25 team entering the 2021 season — gets through the season unscathed, Luke Fickell’s Bearcats will earn one of the four spots.

“I’m gonna put it on record right now — if Cincinnati is undefeated, they’re in the Playoff,” Pate said. “I know there’s this misnomer out there — that’s exactly what it is — that the G5 is just outright barred (from the Playoff). No. There’s no G5 that’s ever warranted a spot in the Playoff over the four that have been selected.

“But if Cincinnati wins their conference, they beat two Power 5 teams that a lot is expected of in Notre Dame and Indiana, at some point this year or any point this year, if that’s the resume, I think they’re gonna be in the Playoff. I don’t care if there’s a G5 sticker on their helmet or not.”

Last year, Cincinnati made it through the regular season and AAC Championship Game unscathed, finishing with a 9-0 record. The Bearcats’ only loss was a 24-21 defeat to No. 9 Georgia in the Peach Bowl.

Cincinnati will open the season with games against Miami (OH) and Murray State before back-to-back road contests against Indiana and Notre Dame. Victories in those two games would certainly be nice resume boosters for a Playoff push.