Don’t Expect Non-Power 5 Team to Play in College Football Playoff Soon

Thursday, June 14, 2018 11:54 AM UTC

Thursday, Jun. 14, 2018 11:54 AM UTC

Will a Group of 5 program ever receive an invite to the College Football Playoff? Not anytime soon under the current system. Central Florida can attest to that.

<p>Last January, a number of Group of 5 officials began beating the drum for a separate college football playoff specifically for their schools. These include programs from the American Athletic, Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West, Sun Belt and a small number of independents. They believe a similar four-team tournament to the College Football Playoff (CFP) would be financially rewarding for all parties and bring greater exposure to the smaller divisions outside of their one automatic bid to a New Year’s Six bowl.</p><p>The reality is, many know its will take extraordinary circumstances under the current system to even fancy a CFP invite. It’s been 34 years since a non-Power 5 team won the national championship (BYU, 1984), an era when the press voted on the title winner after the bowl season. Under today’s more data-driven ranking models, which weigh heavily on strength of schedule, no Group of 5 team has entered the bowl season ranked in the top 10 nationally.</p><p>The fact Central Florida rated 12<sup>th</sup> in the committee’s pre-bowl poll last season tells it all. The Knights finished the season undefeated (13-0), owned the top scoring offense in the nation (46.2 ppg), and beat AAC rivals by 19.9 points per game, the toughest of all Group of 5 divisions. UCF upset Auburn 34-27 in the Peach Bowl as a<a href="" rel="nofollow"> 10-point underdog. </a>That Tigers team beat both CFP championship teams, Alabama and Georgia, in the regular season, and played essentially in their own backyard at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. What more does a Group of 5 team have to prove?</p><p>Some argue Central Florida’s lack of national influence or brand dissuaded the committee as well. This is true of many of the top Group of 5 teams in the CFP era: Memphis, Western Michigan, Marshall, etc. These programs will have to string together several seasons of high-caliber football to convince the public of their standing, draw more media exposure, and possibly disrupt or change the selection process. A fluke season where most Power 5 conference winners suffer multiple losses will help too.</p><p>Just two non-Power 5 programs are in a position to rock the boat currently: Boise State and Notre Dame. Memphis, Houston and BYU could contend as well, but have to beef up their schedules, sustain a greater number of wins, and attract recurring strong recruiting classes. It’s not surprising, therefore, the Fighting Irish (+4000), Central Florida (+20000) and Broncos (+30000), are the top three Group of 5 betting choices to win the <a href=";book=5dimes" rel="nofollow">2019 national championship at 5Dimes</a>. One will have to go undefeated to even be considered for the CFP. This will not happen.</p><p>[/]{"component": "embedHTML", "code": "&lt;blockquote class=\"twitter-tweet\" data-lang=\"en\"&gt;&lt;p lang=\"en\" dir=\"ltr\"&gt;We are ND. &lt;a href=\";amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw\"&gt;#GoIrish&lt;/a&gt; ☘ &lt;a href=\"\"&gt;;/a&gt;&lt;/p&gt;— Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) &lt;a href=\"\"&gt;June 10, 2018&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/blockquote&gt;\n&lt;script async src=\"\" charset=\"utf-8\"&gt;&lt;/script&gt;\n"}[/]</p><p>Notre Dame played well on both sides of the ball in 2017 and returns a slew of experience, starting with quarterback Brandon Wimbush. They own the 19<sup>th</sup> toughest schedule, according to ESPN’s FPI rankings, which is a boon come playoff time. To put this into perspective, only one SEC team (LSU) ranks in the top 25. The next Group of 5 school in the ratings index is BYU at No. 66. The fact of the matter for Irish fans is that the school is just 7-10 SU and 9-8 ATS against ranked opponents in the CFP era, including a 3-3 mark last season. They have won just three of seven outright as the betting favorites in this span. At least five upcoming opponents will be ranked in the preseason AP Top 25: Michigan, Stanford, Virginia Tech, Florida State and USC.</p><p>Central Florida lost head coach Scott Frost to Nebraska, but returns a potent offense led by <a href="">quarterback McKenzie Milton.</a> Josh Heupel, former Missouri offensive coordinator, inherits the bunch. His up-tempo, spread offense will operate similarly to last year. The issue once again is strength of schedule. The team ranks in the bottom half (86<sup>th</sup>) of the FBS. Its three toughest games are at North Carolina in Week 3, at Memphis in Week 7, and at USF in the season finale. UCF is an 11, 5, and 6.5-point favorite, respectively.</p><p>Boise State may have the best chance to go undefeated out of the trio, but has to upset Oklahoma State in Stillwater in Week 3. The Cowboys are 6-point favorites in advanced Game of the Year lines. In the last 20 years, the Broncos are just <a href="" rel="nofollow">12-23 as road underdogs</a> outside of Mountain West play. They also have not run the table in their division since 2009.</p>
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