There is just one undefeated team left in all of FBS football since the Marshall Thundering Herd fell to the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers in an epic overtime game, 67-66, on the appropriately named Black Friday. Heading into the final regular season of the weekend, Boise State was the front runner to earn the New Year's Day bowl bid as they were ranked No. 23 and Marshall was at No. 24 in the College Football Playoff poll, but that loss by the Thundering Herd really opens up the door for the Broncos.
Crazier things have happened but Marshall is pretty much out of the picture for a New Year's Day bow game, and that is due to its lack of schedule strength. Boise State is now in even more control of earning a trip to a big time bowl game. The Broncos still need to gt past Utah State, and then defeat whoever comes out of the West Division. If the Broncos can do that then they get the coveted automatic berth from the Group of Five leagues.
If Boise State loses to either Utah State, or even in the Mountain West title game, then things get very interesting for what team gets that bid.
If Utah State were to win the Mountain West they would be 11-3 and that might be enough for the College Football Playoff committee to pick a three-loss Aggies over even a one-loss Marshall Conference USA champion. However, this also brings in the question of a possible two-loss MAC champion in Northern Illinois. Strength of schedule is a big deal and Utah State (79) has a tougher schedule than both Northern Illinois (92) and Marshall (128), according to BCF Toys.That could be the difference to pick a Utah State team with three loses over any other Group of Five champions with fewer loses.
As if that scenarios is not odd enough, if somehow a team from the West wins the Mountain West then it could mean Marshall or Northern Illinois are back at the front of the line, assuming both win out and win their respective conferences.
For the Group of Five conferences to not be embarrassed in a New Year's Day bowl game, then Boise State really needs to earn that bid. Utah State probably can handle its own due to its defense, but most everyone remembers that debacle in the season opener against Tennessee, Marshall has not bee tested and Northern Illinois was rocked by Arkansas earlier in the season.
There is also Memphis, who has been flying under the radar, but their 61st strength of schedule is the best amongst the contenders but they also have three loses. They likely will finish that was as they play Connecticut Saturday afternoon and likely will finish 9-3.