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Underdogs Poll, Week Nine

Which teams have the inside track for a New Year's Day bowl?

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The race for the Group of Five access bowl slot is actually starting to make some sense! Let's dive in. As always, this is the combined Voodoo Five ballot as voted on by myself and Andrew, with the final SB Nation tally here.

Rank Team Points Last Week
1 East Carolina Pirates 30 1
2 (tie) Marshall Thundering Herd 26 2
2 (tie) Colorado State Rams 26 3
2 (tie) Boise State Broncos 26 5
5 C. Florida Knights 22 4
6 Northern Illinois Huskies 19 6
7 Air Force Falcons 17 9
8 Georgia Southern Eagles 16 8
9 Memphis Tigers 11 12
10 (tie) Cincinnati Bearcats 10 NR
10 (tie) Utah State Aggies 10 14
12 (tie) Houston Cougars 8 10
12 (tie) Nevada Wolfpack 8 NR
14 (tie) Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders 5 NR
14 (tie) Louisiana Tech Bulldogs 5 NR

Dropped Out: BYU, Arkansas State, Toledo, Temple
Receiving Votes: Louisiana-Lafayette (1)

- Remember, to win the Group of Five access bowl slot a team has to be the highest ranked conference champion. The only remaining teams who have a decent shot at both winning their conference and landing in the rankings are the winner of ECU-UCF, Marshall, Colorado State or Boise State (Boise State has the head-to-head edge if the two were to win out), and I suppose Georgia Southern. We'll find out the official pecking order when the committee releases their rankings today, but right now it would appear to be something like:

1. East Carolina. They certainly haven't been playing well of late, and one could make the argument that Marshall is actually the better team, but with their strength of schedule I think it's safe to assume that the Pirates get the slot if they win out. It won't be easy, though.

2. Marshall. The Thundering Herd did not help their case with an uninspiring victory over FAU last weekend, but it still seems likely that they'll win out on their ridiculously easy schedule and will get the slot if ECU loses.

3. Boise State. Even though the Broncos have one more loss than Colorado State, their head-to-head win would put them in the MWC title game over the Rams if both teams won out. With two losses, they almost undoubtedly need a loss from both ECU and Marshall to get in.

4. Colorado State. You've got to kind of feel for the Rams here, because they could be 11-1 and be by far the most impressive G5 team and still not be eligible if Boise wins out. CSU needs a Broncos loss badly, and if they can impress en route to a MWC title, that may be all they need.

5. C. Florida. Watch out for the Knights as a spoiler here. They get ECU on the road in the last game of the season, and if both teams are undefeated in AAC play going in, the champion will be in pretty good shape. With two losses, C. Florida probably needs to win out and have Marshall and the MWC champion lose another game, but that's not out of the question.

6. Georgia Southern. This isn't going to happen, but if the 6-2 Eagles won out and won the Sun Belt crown and everyone ahead of them lost, they might get the slot. This would be kind of cool.

- On to this weekend's action: There aren't too many games of note this week for the Group of Five bunch, but East Carolina will need to step up their game if they want to take down Temple on the road. Friday night #AACTION this week is severely lacking, with Cincinnati-Tulane and Tulsa-Memphis both probable blowouts.