The Group of Five mid-major conferences were dealt a big blow when #15 UCF lost on a trick play in the waning seconds against the Pitt Panthers in Pittsburgh this past Saturday. With the loss, UCF falls back to #22 in the current NCAA college football poll. Over the past two seasons, Central Florida finished undefeated in the regular season so that they were able to go up against major football powers in back-to-back bowl games. However, this loss means that another team from either the Mountain West, the Sun Belt, the Conference USA, the AAC, or the MAC has to run the table or these five conferences will be shut out from obtaining a major bowl berth in January 2020.
There’s still hope
Although UCF is currently the only team that is ranked from these five conferences, there is still a chance for another Group of Five team to climb through the rankings by running the table for the remainder of this season. There are five undefeated teams left within the Group of Five. Let’s take a look at these five teams to see if they have a chance to remain unscathed throughout the rest of the regular season.
Blaze a trail
UAB (3-0) won the Conference USA last season and are one of the favorites to win the conference this season. However, there conference slate is tough with Louisiana Tech, North Texas, and Southern Miss in their division. Plus, the Blazers play Tennessee on November 2.
Slow your mustang down
The SMU Mustangs pulled off a huge upset this past Saturday by defeating TCU 41-38 behind the passing of QB Shane Buechele. The toughest patch within their schedule is when they begin a three-game stretch next month against Temple, Houston, and Memphis in the AAC. If they get through that, then the Mustangs would have to defeat UCF more than likely in the AAC conference final to run the table.
However, the Memphis Tigers are also on a roll after beginning their season with a victory over Ole Miss. The Tigers will have to deal with the same division foes as SMU, but they also finish the regular season in a big game against Cincinnati. Unfortunately, SMU and Memphis are in the same conference, so one of these teams will knock the other from the ranks of the undefeated.
Over the past decade, the Sun Belt Conference has steadily become more competitive. This fact was proven last Saturday when Appalachian State defeated North Carolina on Saturday. The Mountaineers still have more climbing to do in conference. Plus, they have one more big non-conference game against South Carolina on November 9.
Since their 2007 upset of Oklahoma State, Boise State has remained one of the best mid-major teams in the country. Since that upset, the Broncos have made their non-conference schedules so tough that they have not run the table over the past twelve years. Nevertheless, Boise State is still undefeated after their opening game win over Florida State. If they can navigate through a talented Mountain West Conference slate along with defeating BYU on October 19, then Boise State can garner a high ranking by the end of the season due to name recognition.