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Mountain West champion is front runner for New Year's Day bowl berth

Even with an undefeated Marshall, the Mountain West champion is in the best position to go to a big time bowl game.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The College Football Playoff committee has yet to rank a single team from outside of the power conference, and that includes an undefeated Marshall. Strength of schedule is a point of emphasis for the committee and the undefeated Thundering Herd do not have it.

Marshall has faced zero teams that are bowl eligible and only Middle Tennessee State has a winning record at 5-4, and Ohio has a 5-5 record. Overall, the opponents for Marshall have a record of 29-51 (.362), and the five Conference USA opponents it has played this year are a combined 18-31 (.367).

Looking at -- which is run by Brian Fremeau of Football Outsiders -- he puts Marshall's strength of schedule at 128th which is dead last amongst all of the FBS teams. So, it is safe to say that Marshall needs some help and since margin of victory doesn't come into play they need all of the teams they have played to keep winning.

Marshall does have a test against a surging Rice Owls team that is 6-3 and is on a six-game winning streak.

East Carolina falling to Cincinnati essentially removed the American of being the Group of Five representative in a big money bowl game, so it comes down to Marshall and the Mountain West champion. The MAC is not really in the discussion but if Northern Illinois wins the MAC at 11-2 they could be in the mix if Marshall does stumble, and if anyone from the West division wins the Mountain West.

Boise State is right in the middle of the country at 65, Colorado State is a bit lower at 80 and if somehow Nevada wins the Mountain West they have a decent shot to earn the New Year's Day bowl bid and their schedule rank comes in at 74.

Here is the breakdown from in visual form. First up is Marshall and they are ranked as the No. 32 team in the country, but they also have the worst schedule in all of Conference USA.

Marshall schedule

Here is the Mountain West and Wyoming has the toughest schedule of the conference, and it helps to have played Oregon and Michigan State. But if you compare the Mountain West strength of schedule to all of the Conference USA teams it is not even all that close.


For good measure, here is the MAC, that league is actually worse than Conference USA for strength of schedule.

MAC sos
Another thing going in favor of the Mountain West is that SportSource Analytics is providing the data that the selection committee is using to help determine the playoff and New Year's Day bowl games. The companies data really likes Boise State as the overwhelming favorite and then Colorado State.

Marshall has little to no chance and the MAC front runner, Northern Illinois, is in a similar situation as Marshall, but they have two loses already on its schedule.

With just four weeks left of college football it is looking more and more likely that the Mountain West champion will get to play in a New Year's Day bowl game.