For the final time this season, we're examining how USF stacks up 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. 22 Memphis — cracked the the most recent CFP top 25.)
Boise State (8-2)
This week: defeated Colorado State 59-52 (OT)
Next week: vs. Air Force
The Broncos' faint New Year's Six aspirations darn near flat-lined in Fort Collins late Saturday. Trailing by 14 with 2:58 to go, Boise forced overtime via QB Brett Rypien (two touchdown passes in the final 1:41) and a well-executed onside kick. If the Broncos — winners of six in a row — can run the table, they might possibly sorta maybe perhaps could have an outside shot at leapfrogging a one-loss American Athletic Conference champ.
This week: Bye
Next week: vs. SMU
No change for the Tigers, who clinch the AAC's West Division with a win at home Saturday against SMU (a 43-40 loser Saturday to Navy). 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.
This week: defeated Toledo 38-10
Next week: vs. Akron (Tuesday)
A wild set of circumstances must transpire in other conferences (UCF and USF collapsing, Memphis losing to SMU) for the Bobcats to seriously enter the New Year's Six discussion, but their dismantling of Toledo opened some eyes nationally. Ohio's losses are to Purdue (44-21) and Central Michigan (26-23), both of which represent pretty significant smudges. We're listing its Peach hopes as "bruised," mainly because so many dominoes must fall elsewhere.
San Diego State (8-2)
This week: Bye
Next week: vs. Nevada
The Aztecs' 20-17 win against Stanford in mid-September is sparkling a bit more today, but they still need help to even reach the Mountain West title game. SDSU, which trails Fresno State by two games in the West Division, must defeat Nevada and New Mexico (do-able) and hope Fresno State falls to Boise State and Wyoming (also very plausible). If that scenario unfolds, and the Aztecs win the conference title game, they might — might — overtake a one-loss AAC champ in the CFP rankings.
This week: defeated Connecticut 49-24
Next week: at Temple
We don't believe in trap games, but if we did, the Knights' noon game Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field would have the T-word stamped all over it. The Owls are on the cusp of bowl eligibility after winning two in a row, and the Knights haven't been at their sharpest the last two weeks. Still, we don't see Scott Frost letting complacency seep into his locker room, not with so much at stake.
This week: Bye
Next week: vs. Tulsa (Thursday)
We're 95-percent sure the Bulls still control their Peach Bowl destiny. The only shadow of doubt is being cast by the Mountain West. San Diego State has two decent non-conference wins (Arizona State, Stanford) and could tack on a really impressive conference triumph by avenging its loss to Boise State in the MWC title game (if the Aztecs qualify for the game). If the CFP committee's weighing a one-loss Bulls team against two-loss SDSU, well, the deliberation could get interesting.