Teams & Conferences

Group Of Five Playoff? What Would Happen If There Was One?

Group of Five Playoff: What If There Was One In The CFP Era?


What if the Group of Five programs had their own version of the college football playoff over the last few years? What would’ve happened?


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Feeling like they’ll have an impossible time getting into the College Football Playoff, and with the need to generate more revenue, the Group of Five conferences are kicking around the idea of creating their own playoff at the end of the season. Would the mini-tournament be worthwhile to watch?

Short answer? Yeah, if you’re a college football fan, absolutely.

At least it would be more interesting than the bowls most of these teams played in. Over the last three seasons, this would’ve likely have been the Group of Five Playoff set-up.

Part of the problem would be one of the five conferences would be left out in a four-team playoff, so here’s the solution. Like it is now, the top-ranked Group of Five champion according to the College Football Playoff rankings would still play a big boy from a Power Five conference in a New Year’s Six bowl, and the other four remaining leagues would get their champions into the GOF Playoff.

2016

1. Temple, American Athletic

2. Western Kentucky, Conference USA

3. San Diego State, Mountain West

4. Appalachian State, Sun Belt

Western Michigan would’ve still been off to the Cotton Bowl to play Wisconsin in the New Year’s Six game.

The Sun Belt had co-champs, with Appalachian State and Arkansas State tying for the title and not playing each other, but the Mountaineers had the better overall record. In a shocker, assume ASU would’ve beaten a Temple team that lost head coach Matt Rhule to Baylor, while WKU – even without head coach Jeff Brohm – would’ve rolled by San Diego State.

Western Kentucky would probably take the playoff over Appalachian State, with the Hilltopper offense just too effective and too good.

2015

1. San Diego State, Mountain West

2. Western Kentucky, Conference USA

3. Bowling Green, MAC

4. Arkansas State, Sun Belt

Houston won the American Athletic Conference title going 12-1, and would’ve been off to the New Year’s Six to face Florida State in the Peach Bowl.

Arkansas State was solid and on a roll after going unbeaten in the Sun Belt, but San Diego State was a monster, especially defensively. Western Kentucky vs. Bowling Green would’ve been the shootout of all shootouts, with the two offenses combining for at least 1,200 yards, but the Hilltoppers would’ve gotten by with Falcon head man Dino Babers off to Syracuse. San Diego State would’ve beaten WKU for the playoff title.

2014

1. Marshall, Conference USA

2. Northern Illinois, MAC

3. Memphis, American Athletic

4. Louisiana-Lafayette, Sun Belt

Boise State got the New Year’s Six spot, going to the Fiesta to face Arizona. Meanwhile, there’d be a big problem in the Group of Five Playoff.

Georgia Southern was the Sun Belt champ – getting through the conference season unbeaten – but it wasn’t eligible yet for a bowl game as a transitional school into the FBS world. Louisiana-Lafayette was second in the Sun Belt and would’ve gotten in, but Marshall would’ve taken care of that in a hurry in the first round.

The other problem would be the American Athletic situation. Memphis, UCF and Cincinnati all tied, but UCF didn’t play either of the other two teams. Memphis beat Cincinnati, and would’ve been ranked high enough to get in. The Tigers would’ve beaten a rolling Northern Illinois, and would’ve cranked up the offense to beat a Marshall team that didn’t beat anyone with a pulse all season.