Around the Group of 5: Week 11
As we inch closer to the NCAA football postseason, a few teams from the Group of Five conferences climbed their way up the College Football Playoff rankings this week.
After squeezing out a 28-20 win over Tulsa, the 9-0 Cincinnati Bearcats jumped one spot to No. 5 in the CFP committee’s second poll of the year. Even if the undefeated Bearcats come out on top in their last three games against unranked opponents, their historic season may not be enough for a postseason bid.
Among a slate of games against lowly opponents, Cincinnati’s 24-13 victory over Notre Dame marks its only win over a ranked team this year, leading some to believe that the Bearcats are not deserving of a spot in the top four.
However, the same argument can be made against the No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes and the No. 3 Oregon Ducks. Both teams, sitting at one loss apiece, have also only defeated one ranked opponent.
Neither of these teams are a shoo-in for the playoffs, giving Cincinnati a legitimate chance to advance to the postseason for the first time in school history. Ohio State is set to face off with a pair of top-10 teams over the next three weeks, as well as the dream-crushing No. 19 Purdue Boilermakers. Meanwhile, the Ducks have three more outings against teams with five or more wins on the season.
Don’t blink this weekend, or else you might miss a massive turn of events in the playoff picture.
Look a little further down in the rankings and you’ll find an FBS Independent program at No. 9. On a current four-game win streak, Notre Dame also leaped a spot in this week’s rankings.
After a home loss to Cincinnati, the Fighting Irish have slowly worked their way back into the Top-10. A 34-6 beatdown of Navy marked their seventh game on the year with 30 or more points, with four of those offensive explosions coming during their win streak.
Barring an unforeseen collapse in these final weeks of the regular season, Notre Dame will certainly find itself in a bowl game this January.
The San Diego Aztecs of the Mountain West Conference saw their ranking increase from No. 24 to No. 22 this week.
Following their first loss of the season, the Aztecs were in dire need of a victory last weekend to retain their rights as a ranked team. A stifling defensive performance allowed the Aztecs to do just that, defeating Hawaii, 17-10.
SDSU has a huge rivalry match coming up this weekend against Carson Strong and the Nevada Wolf Pack, who are currently 7-2.
At first place in the Conference USA with a perfect 9-0 record, the previously unranked UTSA Roadrunners were shown some love by the playoff committee this week, slotting them at No. 23 in the nation.
The Roadrunners are averaging an astounding 39.9 points per game in 2021, thanks to an explosive offense led by senior quarterback Frank Harris. The dual-threat has 22 total touchdowns on the season, along with 2,400 yards.
Sincere McCormick has also been a dominant force on the ground, breaking the 1,000-yard mark on the year in their most recent victory.
Facing just one team with a winning record in their remaining games, the Roadrunners are well on their way to ending the year without a singular tick in the loss column.
Grant Sheets is a first-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email him at email@example.com.