18 for ’18: 18 key offseason topics: No. 7, which five Group of Five teams will be deepest in the hunt for the College Football Playoff, or more realistically, the New Year’s Six bowl slot?
18 for ’18: No. 7 Group of Five Teams In The College Football Playoff Hunt
18 for ’18 Offseason Topics
18: Power 5 Coach Hot Seat Rankings
17: Power 5 Projected Win Totals & Swing Games
16. Best Longshot National Championship Teams
15. Group of 5 vs. Power 5 Upset Alerts
14. Every Power Five Team’s Letdown Game
13. Breakout QBs You Need To Know
12. Already Great Players About To Explode
11. Every Power Five’s Sleeper Team
10. Five Key Returning Injured Stars
9. Top Make Or Break QB Battles
8. Crazy Predictions That Might Be Right
UCF didn’t play anyone.
It might have been a fun team, and it might have been unbeaten, but when your best win is either Memphis or South Florida, nah, that’s not enough on the resume to get into the College Football Playoff.
Of course, the Knights beat Auburn in the Peach Bowl, and Auburn beat Alabama, and …
But it’s all about getting into the big four in the first place.
It really is possible for a Group of Five program to get in, and no, there’s no bias from the committee against the GOFers. However, it’ll take a perfect season with at least one great non-conference win to get into the picture.
That’s an almost impossible bar to set. Western Michigan went unbeaten in 2016, and wasn’t even close. Houston ended up 12-1 in 2015 before beating Florida State in the Peach Bowl – and beat Louisville and Vanderbilt along the way – and didn’t get a sniff.
With all that in mind, here are five teams that might just be in the CFP chase – but with the best of the bunch almost certainly ending up in the Chick-fil-A Peach or Fiesta.
5. USF Bulls
There might be too many missing parts on both sides of the ball, but if Charlie Strong can somehow rebuild in a hurry and get to September 15th at 3-0, look out.
Losing QB Quinton Flowers is a problem, and not having seven starters off of last year’s solid defense stinks, and replacing both kickers won’t be easy.
However, if Strong and the coaching staff can figure out how to handle Georgia Tech in Tampa on September 8th, then it’s Game On.
Beat Elon, beat Georgia Tech, and then it’s off to face Illinois in Soldier Field in Chicago. Win that, and the Bulls are 7-0 with East Carolina, at UMass, at Tulsa and UConn up next.
It’s USF, so it’ll trip up somewhere along the way – either at Houston, at Cincinnati, or at Temple – but the three late-season road games are winnable, and so is the home date against Tulane.
To have any hope of getting into the College Football Playoff, USF has to be 11-0 going into the showdown against UCF – and that’s in Tampa. Do that, win the American Athletic Conference championship, and the national cry will go out that the Bulls deserve their shot.
More realistically, win the AAC at 12-1 – or even at 11-2, and the New Year’s Six bowl appearance should come.