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The Good, the Bad, the Ugly: Group of Five New Year’s Six Pretenders and Contenders

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A look at who has a chance of playing in the big game

NCAA Football: Fiesta Bowl-Louisiana State vs Central Florida Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

In this edition of “the Good, the Bad, the Ugly,” we are going to take a look at the New Year’s Six contenders and pretenders. With the release of preseason magazines and the beginning of summer, we are only a few months away from the start of fall camp. With that being said, let’s take a look at who has a chance of playing in a major bowl game.

The Good:

UCF

The Golden Knights have earned the right to be the favorite until they lose a regular season game. They will need to show improvement on the defensive side of the ball this season, as teams were able to rack up the yards against them. They also have some questions to answer at quarterback with Milton out. But I think UCF has a favorable schedule and the offensive firepower to contend again.

Boise State

Boise State has plenty of question marks on the offensive side of the ball, but they have a manageable schedule and a great defense returning most of its starters. I am also not concerned about how the Broncos will replace Alexander Mattison, they have a ton of potential at the position and could easily rotate three or four guys. The biggest question is obviously at quarterback, where the Broncos have to replace a four year starter in Brett Rypien. I think Chase Cord and Hank Bachmeier both have the potential to be special, but will Cord be healthy? And is Bachmeier ready? Only time will tell.

Fresno State

Jeff Tedford has created something special in Fresno. He took a program that was in shambles and turned it into a perennial contender. If the Bulldogs can find a capable replacement for Marcus McMaryion and can make it through a manageable non-conference schedule unscathed, they will be in great shape heading into November. It is important to note that Fresno State and Boise State do not play in the regular season. Will they meet again for the Mountain West championship? Could it be for a spot in the NY6? I think it is possible.

Houston

This is my darkhorse candidate. The Cougars have been pouring a ton of money into their football program and made a surprisingly strong offseason hire with Dana Holgorsen. Houston plays Oklahoma and Washington State, the Sooners game is a likely loss, but if they can find a way to beat Washington State, things could get interesting.

The Bad:

Utah State

Historically speaking, the Aggies have had a difficult time living up to high expectations. They are receiving a lot of love from the media after a strong 2018 season. However, circumstances are much different in 2019. The Aggies had a very easy schedule last year. This season, they have to play Wake Forest, LSU, BYU, Boise State, Fresno State, and San Diego State. The Aggies would likely need to win five of those games, I just can’t see that happening.

The MAC

Here’s the way I look at it. The NY6 spot belongs to either the Mountain West or American unless they really blow it. The MAC is likely third in line and needs a ton of help to get in. The only hope the MAC has is for a team to go undefeated and every team in the AAC or Mountain West to have at least two losses. It doesn’t look good for their chances.

The Ugly:

The Sun Belt and Conference USA

There really isn’t much to say here. Maybe North Texas can pull off a miracle, but that seems unlikely. These conferences would likely need one of their teams to go undefeated and for every AAC and Mountain West team to lose at least three games. I just can’t see that happening.

That’s it for this edition of “the Good, the Bad, the Ugly.” Stay tuned next week as I will be making some bold predictions at the quarterback position.