With the season now approaching week 10 and most teams having now played at least seven or eight games. It seemed a good time to review the predictions made pre-season over which teams from outside the power five conferences and the AAC would have the best chance of cracking the top 25 as well as the big bowl games. The original article is here: http://old.lastwordonsports.com/2014/07/29/the-best-non-aq-conference-teams-for-2014/
Reviewing Top Non-AQ Team Predictions
Marshall Thundering Herd:
These were by far my top pick to succeed as they have a great Quarterback in Rakeem Cato and a schedule that included no power 5 teams on it at all. They also returned a lot of key components to an improving defence which is eighth in points against average so far this season. The possibility of going 12-0 was quite high pre-season and is still alive now as Marshall currently hold an 8-0 record (4-0 in Conference). The closest they’ve come to losing so far was on the opening day when they beat Miami (Ohio) on the road 42-27 and since then no team has lost by less than 14pts.
The only downside for Marshall is the easy schedule avoiding the power 5 teams means they aren’t being taken seriously in the top 25 polls. The playoff committee didn’t rank them in their first top 25 rankings whilst the AP poll has them at #23 despite being only one of three unbeaten teams left in the country.
Boise State Broncos:
After high hopes, the Broncos started the year exactly how we expected them to. They lost their season opener 35-13 to Ole Miss which is no surprise given how good the Rebels look this year then impressed in wins over Colorado State and Connecticut. The only real blot on their record is the disappointing road loss to Air Force as since then the Broncos have been excellent including a home win over the Taysom Hill-less BYU Cougars.
They hold the tiebreaker over Colorado State in the Mountain division of the Mountain West Conference and still have to play Utah State at home who are the other one loss team in the conference. From here I still believe they will win this division and then the conference finishing 11-2 before going to a bowl game.
Louisiana Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns:
The Ragin’ Cajuns had a mixed start to the year as they lost a home game to in-state rivals Louisiana Tech 48-20 before being well beaten by Ole Miss and Boise State on the road. The LA Tech defeat was a real disappointment for this experienced team but they bounced back well at the start of conference play. They won their opening three games and have improved with each showing to move to 3-0 in the Sun Belt Conference.
The running game supported by Elijah McGuire and Alonzo Harris has been devastating so far. They’ll look to improve defensively through their final five games as they look to catch up to Georgia Southern who’ve gone 5-0 so far in the Sun Belt, unfortunately they don’t get to face the Georgia Southern Eagles this year.
Bowling Green Falcons:
The Falcons, who won the Mid-American Conference last year after stunning Northern Illinois in the championship game, were more of a risky proposition. Their success hinged on the MAC East looking weak around them and that seems to have happened as the Falcons are the only team to hold a winning record currently. If they can win this weekend at the Akron Zips then they should comfortably win the MAC East even with a trip to Toledo left before the end of the season (Toledo are 4-0 in the MAC so far this year).
Bowling Green certainly aren’t going to be surprising any of the heavyweights of College Football this year after being well beaten by both Western Kentucky and Wisconsin in the opening month of the season. But they stand a great chance of winning the MAC East and as last year proved anything can happen in a one-off championship game.
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