Updated 11/5 10:37am
In last week's poll we discussed each contender for the Group of Five access bowl slot and what had to happen for them to win it. The first occurrence in each scenario was an East Carolina loss. Guess what? The Pirates went down to Temple last weekend in a sloppy 20-10 loss, opening the door for a number of teams. ECU's not necessarily out of the running, but their path gets a lot harder. Here's the poll:
|1 (tie)||Marshall Thundering Herd||28||2|
|1 (tie)||Colorado State Rams||28||2|
|1 (tie)||Boise State Broncos||28||2|
|4||East Carolina Pirates||23||1|
|5||Georgia Southern Eagles||21||8|
|6||Air Force Falcons||20||7|
|7||Northern Illinois Huskies||19||6|
|10||Utah State Aggies||12||10|
|12||Louisiana Tech Bulldogs||8||14|
|13||C. Florida Knights||5||5|
|15 (tie)||BYU Cougars||2||NR|
|15 (tie)||Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns||2||NR|
Dropped Out: Middle Tennessee
Receiving Votes: Toledo (1), Temple (1)
- ECU's spot at the top of the poll has been filled by not one, but three teams, which is a pretty accurate representation of where the race for the New Year's Day bowl stands. Here's how it breaks down.
1. Marshall. It's pretty safe to say that if the top three teams all won out, undefeated Marshall would get the bid. The Herd, with their tissue-soft schedule, would probably not be chosen over a one-loss Colorado State team with wins over Boston College and Colorado, but remember: you have to win your conference to be eligible, and CSU lost the head-to-head matchup with Boise State. Marshall needs to win out-- likely, with games against Southern Miss, UAB, Rice and Western Kentucky remaining-- and have Boise win out, which is very possible, but nothing near a sure bet.
2. Boise State. It's very black and white for the Broncos. Barring a surprise in the official Playoff rankings today, it's highly unlikely that they'd be ahead of Marshall in the pecking order given their two losses. Boise needs to win out and get a Marshall loss. Sounds easy on paper, but the Broncos have dates against San Diego State and Utah State remaining--plus a potential MWC title game-- and yeah, Marshall doesn't play anybody.
3. Colorado State. Poor Colorado State might be the best team of the bunch, but unless Boise State loses they won't make the Mountain West title game and won't be eligible for the access bowl slot. If the Broncos do lose, the Rams still have to get by a tricky road game at Air Force to end the season. If they somehow win the MWC, it's tough to see them not getting the bid.
4. East Carolina. The Pirates are still alive, sort of. With two losses, they undoubtedly need a Marshall loss. They would need a Colorado State loss if the Rams were to win their conference. Would a 10-2, AAC champion ECU be chosen over a 10-2, MWC champion Boise State? I'm not sure, but I don't love the Pirates' chances. They still have to get through the rest of their AAC slate without another loss, which seems unlikely considering how poorly they've played lately.
5. Georgia Southern. I am unabashedly in the Georgia Southern boat here. The Eagles, in their first year at the FBS level, are 7-2 and undefeated in Sun Belt play. To have any shot, they'd need to win their next three games-- including a roadtrip to Navy-- and have all four teams in front of them lose. It's not impossible!
(UPDATE: Apparently it is nigh impossible: I've been informed that GSU, since they're still in a transitional year between FCS and FBS, are only eligible for post-season if there aren't enough teams to fill the 76 bowl bids.CFP executive director Bill Hancock says "If Georgia Southern is the Sun Belt champion and is bowl eligible, the committee would consider them for the G5 spot." I'm rooting for a lot of teams to finish 5-7, so they can get to a bowl).
- Let's devote a moment to the AAC title race as well, which is totally bonkers now that ECU and C. Florida both lost. There's a five-way tie at the top of the conference between (deep breath) ECU, C. Florida, Houston, Memphis and Cincinnati. Who's going to emerge from that bunch? I have no idea, but it's worth noting that Memphis doesn't play a single one of those teams down the stretch.
- #MACTION BACK. The MAC will be playing two games on both Tuesday and Wednesday night, with league leaders Northern Illinois and Toledo both in action. There are much, much worse ways to spend a weeknight. The Friday night action isn't bad either, with a pretty critical AAC matchup between Memphis and Temple and a sneaky-tough game for Utah State on the road at Wyoming.