Army in the CFP Rankings This Week?
First of all let me hit you with the shameless plug: please listen to (or watch) the As For Football College Football Podcast on Youtube, Facebook, iTunes, Google Play, or Stitcher. If you have been, you are getting a lot more content than those that only read our articles or engage with us on social media. If you haven’t listened to or watched the show, this week is a good week to start. The content doesn’t “expire” on Saturday like a normal week where previewing the opponent is the main focus. If fact, we talk about the Top 25, Army’s Recipe for Success, what the High Water Mark for Army Football is, and much more. Anyways, I know you have questions and I have answers, so enjoy the thought provoking dialog below.
Will Army Remain in the AP/Coaches Polls?
I proposed this question on the most recent podcast. Generally, the crew felt that we would remain ranked in theses polls, but none of us (including myself) had done the painstaking research. Now that I have spent some time in Thayer Hall studying, I can confidently assure you that we will remain in these polls. This week one team will drop out of the Top 25 in both these polls as a result of the Utah State and Boise State matchup. The winner will face Fresno State in the Mountain West Championship. Utah State should win and Boise State will drop out with 100% certainty.
Texas A&M is knocking on the door in both these polls (currently #22 in the CFP), but they have to play LSU this weekend. If they lose, and they probably will, then they will pose no threat to the Army team. The voided spot by Boise State in the AP Poll will go to Fresno State who is #23 in the Coaches Poll. The Broncos place in the Coaches Poll will be filled by Iowa State who is #25 in both the CFP and AP Poll.
Other teams on the border include NC State, Cincinnati, Missouri, and Iowa. Given their votes last week and the opponents that they play this week, I don’t see any of these teams wowing voters and jumping into the rankings, much less pushing out Army. The bottom line is that there is not enough fire power on the schedule for any teams, they must rely on losses to create opportunities. As I said in the podcast, these voters will keep voting for the teams they did before as long as they don’t lose. Army can’t lose over the next two weeks.
Can we sneak into the CFP Rankings?
The answer is yes, but it will be a challenge. It seems that the CFP Committee is really looking at Strength of Schedule this year, given that they currently have five 4-loss teams in the Top 25. Seriously? At this point last year there were zero. Unlike the AP and Coaches Polls, the CFP Rankings should have two guaranteed spots opening up. Utah State and Boise State are ranked #21 and #23 respectfully, so say goodbye to the loser. With a loss to #7 LSU, we can also say goodbye to #22 Texas A&M. As you know Syracuse could lose to Boston College and open up another spot. If they did, don’t count on Boston College to get in. The CFP will not be quick to forgive the Eagles loss to FSU. Pitt plays Miami and Iowa State plays Kansas State. Between them and Syracuse, we can reasonably expect one loss.
So this week there are potentially three spots opening up. Here are the mostly likely teams to fill them: Fresno State, Missouri, Army, Cincinnati, Iowa, NC State, Wisconsin, and Boston College. I think Fresno State will get in first followed by Missouri who is on a four game win streak that started with an upset of #11 Florida. After Fresno State and Missouri, it gets very tight, but I think the Army Team will (should) get in. Our most recent loss was to freaking Oklahoma! C’mon man… Following the Cadets would be Cincinnati. Their most recent loss was to #9 UCF, but it was recent and one-sided. Iowa gets the next nod. Although they were previously ranked this season and also share a four loss record like many other P5 teams. The Hawkeyes lost to a bad Purdue team earlier and just barely squeaked by Nebraska. NC State follows Iowa closely signing a very similar tune. The Wolfpack also lost recently to a bad team in Wake Forest. Wisconsin and Boston College (with a win) also exist in this fringe realm.
Can we still be the Highest Ranked G5 Team?
Probably not…if it was to happen we would need the following outcomes:
- UCF loses in AAC Championship
- Winner of Utah State/Boise State loses in MW Championship
The problem here is that Fresno State would beat either Utah State/Boise State. Given that the Bulldogs were ranked by the CFP committee prior to their Boise State loss, they will jump back into the rankings after winning the Mountain West.
What’s interesting in this scenario is that Fresno State may still not be the highest ranked G5 team. How far would #9 UCF fall after losing the AAC Championship without their star quarterback to a hot Memphis team? I believe they would still be in the Top 25, but where would they land? Which brings us back to my original point. What would UCF think if another team ranked lower than them received the bid to go to a NY6 Bowl…
Is the New Year’s Six Bowl Still a Thing?
So there was (and in many ways still is) a realistic path to a New Year’s Six Bowl this year that I detailed in my previous article. The College Football Playoff rules dictate that the highest ranked Group of Five Champion earns an automatic berth in a New Year’s Six Game. Now, I should have put the footnote up front as a few were quick to comment that this spot is reserved for only a Group of Five Champion. What I pointed out is that the rules are very vague when it comes to independents and their role in earning that bid. The Army Navy Policy language is somewhat contradictory and at the very least, confusing. This is why I believe that ultimately there will be a scenario where the Committee has to address and clarify the NY6 bid eligibility. What if a one-loss or undefeated BYU or Army team is the highest ranked Non-Power Team. Are you seriously telling me that in this fictional scenario, a lower ranked MAC Champion gets the nod. Also as I mentioned before, this year UCF could lose and still be the highest ranked G5 team. Are they going to send a lower ranked Fresno State or Memphis team over them? I’ll quote Dan when he said:
It’s wrong to think of the NCAA as an honest broker in all this. These rules mean whatever people want them to mean.
It’s all about the money and the majority of the revenue sharing for conferences is already set, regardless of who plays in what. For the Group of Five, outside of making the Playoff, the only additional incentive is a $4 million dollar bonus for playing in a New Year’s Six Bowl. Any team that plays in a non-playoff NY6 Bowl earns the money to spilt among their entire conference (each conference has their own private rules for distribution). So yes, there would be resistance by the G5 conference getting their spot taken by an Independent, but rules are rewritten, clarified, and expanded all the time. For example, after the adoption of the CFP, the SEC introduced a requirement for each team to play another Power Five opponent in a non-conference matchup. One year later they decided to count games played against Independents BYU and Army toward that P5 requirement. The point is that rules change. As it’s currently written, a higher ranked independent or G5 non-conference champion would likely be left on the outside looking in. But if we get there, let’s see what happens…I bet the commission reevaluates their rules…
If things go well and the Committee gets it’s head out of it’s fourth point of contact we should see the Army Team in the CFP Rankings this week. Cheer for Syracuse, Pitt, Iowa State, and Texas A&M losses! Utah State or Boise is already a lock. I also feel pretty good about LSU over A&M. If one of the other three losses Army has a good shot. If two of them lose, then Army is a lock!
Beat Navy! Rest.