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Peach pursuit: How the Group of Five’s best fared in Week 10

By Joey Knight
SMU quarterback Ben Hicks (8) and the Mustangs could create some upheaval in the American Athletic Conference -- and nation -- with a late-season hot streak. (Jae S. Lee | Dallas Morning News | TNS)

Each week, we take a look at how USF fared in comparison to the other serious Group of Five contenders for the New Year's Six bowl berth. The Group of Five conference champion ranked highest by the College Football Playoff committee earns the New Year's Six nod. Presuming that berth will be in the Peach Bowl (though it could be the Fiesta), we've devised a gauge of sorts measuring each team's Peach Bowl chances at this moment in time.

Peachy: In the driver's seat for a Peach Bowl berth
Ripening: A team to watch. Peach Bowl outlook getting stronger
Bruised: Peach Bowl chances took a recent hit
The Pits: Not a serious contender at this time

(Note: Only two Group of Five teams — No. 18 UCF and No. 23 Memphis — cracked the first CFP top 25 released on Tuesday.)

Boise State (7-2)
This week: defeated Nevada 41-14
Next week: at Colorado State
Boise's only realistic hope at this point may be to win out and hope the American Athletic Conference champ has at least one (ideally, two) losses. The Broncos' only two defeats have been against Power Five teams (Virginia, Washington State), and they own some nice wins (Troy, San Diego State), so they're conceivably still a contender. On a trivial note, Boise has won its last two games by identical 41-14 scores, and has allowed 14 points in each of its last four contests.
Outlook: Ripening

Toledo (8-1)
This week: defeated Northern Illinois 27-17
Next week: at Ohio (Wednesday)
We're keeping the Rockets on this list because they've won five in a row, but their only realistic New Year's Six shot is to win out and hope for some major upheaval elsewhere (i.e. SMU winning the AAC or Fresno State winning the Mountain West). Even with only one loss, Toledo's schedule is too weak for the Rockets to reach New Year's Day without some help.
Outlook: Bruised

Memphis (8-1)
This week: defeated Tulsa 41-14
Next week: bye
The Tigers clinch the AAC's West Division with a win at home against SMU on Nov. 18. If they win out (against the Mustangs and East Carolina), and USF upsets UCF on Black Friday, they likely host the conference title game as the highest-ranked division champion.
Outlook: Peachy

San Diego State (8-2)
This week: defeated San Jose State 52-7
Next week: vs. Nevada
The Aztecs' New Year's Six hopes hinge on Fresno State — which leads them by two games in the Mountain West Conference's West Division — losing to Boise State and Wyoming down the stretch. If the Aztecs do somehow win the West, then the conference title game, they're still not overtaking an undefeated UCF or a one-loss Memphis. SDSU must win out, hope Fresno State falters, and root like heck for an underdog such as SMU to emerge in the AAC.
Outlook: Bruised

UCF (8-0)
This week: defeated SMU 31-24
Next week: vs. Connecticut
After a season rife with romps (UCF's average victory margin through its first seven games was 31.3 points), the Knights got a stiff test at SMU and passed. Don't be surprised if they crack the CFP top 15 this week.
Outlook: Peachy

USF (8-1)
This week: defeated Connecticut 37-20
Next week: bye
We still feel like the Bulls control their own destiny, but it would behoove them if they could play Memphis for the AAC title. Follow us here: A Bulls win at UCF propels them into the CFP top 25. Play Memphis for the league crown, and that's another possible win against a CFP top-25 team. But if it's USF against unranked SMU in the championship game and the Bulls win ugly, we're not 100-percent sure they don't get overtaken by another Group of Five champ.
Outlook: Ripening