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New Year’s Six Bowl game race: Central Michigan could make some noise

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Taking a look at the key games that will impact the Group of Five big money bowl game.

New Hampshire v San Diego State Photo by Kent Horner/Getty Images

Houston is far and away the clear favorite to earn the coveted New Year’s Six Bowl game as they topped Oklahoma and are now in the top six in the latest polls, and at the top of the Underdogs Poll.

However, there is still so much football left it should not be forgone conclusion the Cougars take that spot, the favorite yes and by a mile but not locked up.

There are plenty of games this week that will help shape this race and help, or hurt, these G5 schools in their hunt for a big money bowl game.

As a note, these matchups are one’s that have a realistic shot of a win happening. So, you will not see Western Kentucky at Alabama (if the Hilltoppers win then things get interesting) or Michigan hosting Central Florida.

Central Michigan vs. #21 Oklahoma State, 12:00 PM (ET), September 10 (FS1) - This one might be off the beaten path since the Chippewas haven't received much respect thus far, but a win over the Cowboys could open some eyes. They blitzed an overmatched Presbytarian squad last Saturday, and Cooper Rush has very quietly been one of the Group of 5's steadiest quarterbacks. Plus, nobody ever squabbled over some breakfast MACtion, right?

Tulsa at #4 Ohio State, 3:30 PM, September 10 (ABC)

Wait a minute, you just said unrealistic victories will not be listed here and Tulsa is a 29-point underdog but hear me out. Tulsa’s offense is very, very good under second-year coach Philip Montgomery and previously the offensive coordinator at Baylor. The Tulsa offense has the ability to run well and pass extremely well with Dane Evans slinging the ball around. Ohio State did lose a lot of players defensively to the NFL and with it being game two of the year these replacement players have not yet fulfilled their potential. A win for the Golden Hurricane is likely not going to happen but do not be surprised if they put a good scare into the Buckeyes.

Georgia Southern vs. South Alabama, 7:00 PM, September 10 (ESPN3) - An early battle for Sun Belt supremacy, who knew? The Jaguars surprised everyone with their shocking win in Starksville, but now they have to defend their home turf against a motivated Eagles that missed their chance at the SBC title a year ago and just blasted poor Savannah State. They'll likely want to improve upon the seven yards per carry they allowed the Bulldogs on the ground in order to stake their claim at the top of the conference.

Washington State vs. Boise State, 10:15 PM, September 10 (ESPN2)

Boise State is a double-digit favorite and Washington State is coming off a loss Eastern Washington of the FCS ranks, and it appears the Broncos should easily win. The Cougars will be motivated in this game after getting embarrassed and Mike Leach may want to throw for 1,000 yards in this game. Expect a lot of points in this one and drink your favorite caffeinated beverage to stay up late for this one.

Cal vs. San Diego State, 10:30 PM, September 10 (CBS Sports Network) - This is the first real crucible for the Aztecs, who coasted to an easy win against FCS New Hampshire in their season opener. Cal won this game handily behind Jared Goff in 2015, and Davis Webb has already shown he can create big plays in their Bear Raid attack. If they play their game -- running the ball and playing aggressive defense -- to a victory, SDSU should be able to quiet a lot of skeptics.