Each week henceforth, we'll 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
Boise State (6-2)
This week: defeated Utah State 41-14
Next week: vs. Nevada
The Broncos, who need several figurative dominoes to fall to re-enter the New Year's Six discussion, watched one of them tumble Saturday. USF's loss to Houston helped Boise, but at minimum, it still needs the Bulls to win at UCF. Meantime, Boise must win out. If that occurs, it will be interesting to see how the CFP committee views a team on a nine-game win streak whose only losses were to a pair of Power Five programs (Washington State, Virginia). Would the committee rank a two-loss Broncos squad over a one-loss American Athletic Conference champion?
This week: defeated Ball State 58-17
Next week: vs. Northern Illinois (Thursday)
Like USF, the Rockets suffer from a feeble regular season schedule (ranked 113th by national stats guru Cody Kellner). But whereas the Bulls still have some potential quality wins before them (UCF, Memphis in AAC title game), Toledo has none. Even they win out and capture the MAC title, their best-case postseason scenario is probably a trip to the Bahamas Bowl.
This week: lost to FIU 41-30
Next week: at FAU (Friday)
Stick a fork in the Thundering Herd. The loss to FIU, snapping a five-game win streak, ended their New Year's Six hopes. Sorry, we just don't see a two-loss Conference USA champ leapfrogging a one-loss AAC titlist (or even a two-loss Mountain West champ) in the CFP rankings.
Outlook: The pits
This week: defeated Tulane 56-26
Next week: at Tulsa (Friday)
We wouldn't be at all shocked to find the Tigers ranked ahead of USF in Tuesday's initial CFP rankings. Memphis has won four in a row, owns more quality wins (Houston, Navy), and has defeated a half-decent Power Five program (UCLA). The rest of the Tigers' schedule (at Tulsa, home vs. SMU and East Carolina) is very manageable. If they win out and prevail in the AAC title game, we like their Peach Bowl chances. A lot.
This week: Bye
Next week: at Temple (Thursday)
We're keeping the Midshipmen on here only because they could make noise down the stretch (with wins against Notre Dame, Houston and Army). Even if they do somehow win out, they'd still need a pretty epic collapse by Memphis to even make the AAC title game.
Outlook: The pits
San Diego State (7-2)
This week: defeated Hawaii 28-7
Next week: at San Jose State
The Aztecs' hopes haven't flatlined yet. To win the Mountain West's West Division, they still need Fresno State — upset by UNLV on Saturday — to lose twice more down the stretch, and Fresno still must play Wyoming and Boise State. If the Aztecs win out (very do-able) then prevail in the Mountain West title game, the CFP committee could give them a serious look. Remember, SDSU has wins against Arizona State and Stanford in its back pocket.
This week: defeated Austin Peay 73-33
Next week: at SMU
The Knights are certain to be the highest-ranked Group of Five team when the first CFP rankings are released Tuesday night. If that's the case, UCF controls its own destiny with regular season games against SMU, Connecticut, Temple and USF remaining. Pretty academic stuff.
This week: lost to Houston 28-24
Next week: at Connecticut
Even after suffering one of the most crushing defeats in program history, the Bulls still have all their goals before them. The AAC title, a Peach berth, the best record in program history — all remain on the table. The only thing they've lost is their margin for error. One more slip-up, and the Bulls can say adios to Atlanta and gear up for the Gasparilla Bowl.