Who Will Get the New Years’ Bowl from the Group of 5?
The College Football Playoff semifinalists will be announced after December 3rd's conference championship games.
And, also to be announced: The Group of Five representative, presumably in the Cotton Bowl.
That bid will go to the highest rated champion among the titlists from the American, Mountain West, Sun Belt, Mid-American and Conference USA.
The operative term is champion.
Forget what you are reading about rankings right now. If those teams don't win the conference title, they're out.
And, right now, even qualifying will be a chore.
Here's what the matchups would be if the conference title games were played this week.
AMERICAN: Navy vs. Temple. The Owls are the forgotten team in this league. Houston got all the preseason hype and USF just might be the best team. But Temple beat the Bulls earlier in the season and a win over East Carolina puts the Owls in the title game. Navy gets SMU this week and is in with a win. A loss could make it a three way tie in the West, but Navy has already beaten boatteth Houston and Tulsa.
CONFERENCE USA: Western Kentucky vs. Louisiana Tech: A lot would have to happen for this champion to be considered, as CUSA is the weakest of the Group of Five this year. WKU needs a win over Marshall to get to the title game. Old Dominion is in the wings should the Hilltoppers tumble. A rematch of a 55-52 Tech win is probable here. At least it'll be fun.
MID-AMERICAN: Western Michigan vs. Ohio/Miami (OH). WMU is the only team besides Alabama that's still unbeaten. Ohio and Miami play this week for the East title. But before you crown P. J. Fleck's team, here's the rub. They haven't even qualified for the title game yet. This week it's the showdown between the MAC's two best teams as Toledo takes on WMU. The winner gets the division title. Toledo is 9-2 on the season. Don't crown Western just yet.
MOUNTAIN WEST: Wyoming vs. San Diego State: For all the talk of Boise State, the Broncos need some help to get to the title game. Neither Wyoming nor Boise State have a cakewalk this week. Wyoming hosts New Mexico, just behind the top two in the Mountain Division. And, Boise has to go to Air Force, a team that hammered them last year. The winner gets San Diego State in the title game. San Diego State lost a one point game at Wyoming this past Saturday. If there's a rematch, it's in Laramie. Boise has a good chance to be the highest rated champion...IF they can get to the title game.
SUN BELT: Arkansas State is in the driver's seat, but isn't a factor with four losses. If the Red Wolves stumble, it could create a three way tie and the contenders won't have all played each other.
Watch these games on Saturday. They'll give us a much better idea of who even has a chance to get to New Years' Day.