The season has been spent arguing who the best Group of Five school is, and who should get the spot in the New Year’s Six. UCF has had some close calls against Temple and Memphis and still has some hurdles to overcome with match-ups against South Florida and either Memphis or Houston. The Mountain West still has three solid contenders with Utah State, Boise State, and Fresno State. Let’s take a look at where things stand right now, and what needs to happen for the four contenders.
Ranking the top Group of Five teams:
We know the Group of Five representative will come from the American or Mountain West; We can even narrow the race down to four teams. Here is where they stand according to the polls:
Let’s take a look at each of these teams, starting with UCF.
What UCF needs to happen:
It is a pretty simple path for the Knights in their quest for a birth into a New Year’s Six bowl game. If UCF wins their last two games, they will get the bid. However, they may be able to afford a loss to South Florida and still get the bid if they win the AAC championship game. If the Knights lose the AAC championship game, the bid will go to the Mountain West. But what happens if the Knights lose to South Florida and win the AAC championship game? Keep following me here....
What Utah State needs to happen:
The Aggies have had their best season in recent memory, and it has an opportunity to be very special with some help. The Aggies do not have a lot of impressive wins like some of the other teams on this list, but they have a dynamic offense that stacks up well with UCF. Utah State can fix the issues with their resume with victories over Boise State and Fresno State to finish the season.
What Boise State needs to happen:
The Broncos have played the toughest schedule of any of the four contenders, and that carries some weight with the committee. The path is simple for Boise State. They need to beat a ranked Utah State team and beat a ranked Fresno State team for the second time in four weeks. That is asking a lot, but it would be a pretty impressive resume that would be hard for the committee to ignore. How would a two loss Broncos stack up to a one loss UCF? We will get there, I promise.
What Fresno State needs to happen:
The argument is a little harder for the Bulldogs. The timing of losses matters, and the Bulldog offense has not looked as dynamic in recent weeks, as they have had to face some better defenses. The Bulldogs will need to win out and hope that the Knights lose the AAC championship game.
What happens if UCF loses to South Florida but wins their conference championship?
Let’s take a look at the resume of each team, assuming UCF loses to South Florida and each Mountain West team wins out:
Best wins: Cincinnati, Temple, Pittsburgh
Loss: South Florida
Best wins: Boise State, Fresno State, BYU
Loss: Michigan State
Best Wins: Fresno State (twice), Utah State, Troy
Losses: Oklahoma State, San Diego State
Best Wins: San Diego State, UCLA, Boise State or Utah State
Losses: Minnesota, Boise State
If UCF has a loss and still wins the AAC, I don’t think their path to the NY6 is clear. Utah State would have a comparable resume with one loss, and one could argue that Boise would have a better resume with three Top 25 wins. The committee would be justified in picking either of those teams over UCF.
So, keep your eyes peeled the next two weekends, as the Mountain West will look for some help from UCF in securing a bid to a major bowl game.