The race for the Group of Five berth is taking an interesting turn as the second half of college football continues.
Boise State is trending upward in ESPN’s Week 8 Power Rankings. The Broncos’ moved up two spots to No. 13 after defeating BYU 28-27 to remain undefeated and they’re currently the Group of Five favorites for a New Year’s Six bowl.
Well, sort of.
While San Diego State did get receiving votes, the Aztecs didn’t make the Top 25 cut this week.
So, if Boise State can win out right, the Broncos’ will more than likely be a lock for an automatic berth.
That’s if, if Boise State can get past Wyoming then their conference schedule looks harmless. Then, they’ll more than likely face their biggest threat, San Diego State in the Mountain West Conference title game.
If the Aztecs beat the Broncos, San Diego State will obviously sit as the Mountain West contender for an auto bid to a New Year’s Six bowl.
CBS Sports placed San Diego State vs. Tennessee for the Jan. 2 Cotton Bowl while ESPN’s senior writer Mark Schlabach has Boise State vs. No. 7 Nebraska in the Cotton Bowl and college football reporter Brett McMurphy predicted Western Michigan vs. No. 8 West Virginia.
Bleacher Report also projected Boise State in the Cotton Bowl vs. No. 9 Wisconsin with the Badgers as the predicted winner.
While No. 13 Boise State seems to be in the driver’s seat as the Broncos are the highest-ranked team from the Group of Five conference, their fellow undefeated No. 21 Western Michigan Broncos’ are also fighting to get an auto bid. WMU defeated Eastern Michigan 45-31 with an impressive showing from quarterback Zach Terrell, throwing for a career-high 398 yards.
WMU has a key conference matchup against Toledo on the final week of the regular season (Nov. 25) as Toledo will look to spoil any chances the Broncos have at the Mid-American Conference title.
As for the AAC, Houston was the projected champion but those hopes diminished with a blowout loss to SMU. Houston also dropped out of the rankings and already lost to their AAC rival Navy earlier in October, who rounded out the Top 25 to stay undefeated in conference play. Navy is another strong contender benefiting from the Cougar’s slip-ups this season.
Out of the three teams, Boise State essentially has the largest edge mostly due to the current polls and wins against Power Five schools during their non conference slates. The AP Top 25 has Boise State seven spots ahead of Western Michigan and WMU two spots ahead of Navy.
Boise State’s impressive victory against Washington State pushes them ahead of Western Michigan’s win over Northwestern so even if Boise State finishes with one loss that one loss should still push them ahead of Western if they finish undefeated.
Unless that one loss is against San Diego State in the MWC title game.
Then the momentum can shift back to not only SDSU but Western Michigan and possibly put Navy back in contention.