Analyzing the non-Power Five Conference Races

With all the talk in college football at the moment being all about the new four-team playoff and debates over which teams are the most worthy being included, it seemed to be a good time to review four of the smaller conference in the FBS. None of these teams are close to having a shot at the playoff with Marshall and Colorado State the only teams ranked in the current AP Top 25 but neither are on the College Football Playoff Committee’s Top 25. So here is your quick rundown of what is happening heading into the final few games:

Non-Power Five Conference Roundup

Conference USA:

There has been plenty of talk this year about Marshall. They are one of only three unbeaten teams in the country this year. But a schedule with no Power Five conference teams and only one team with a winning record means that any hope they had of crashing the CFP were over before they started. With chaos reigning in the AAC they might make a New Year’s Six bowl game if they go unbeaten. They certainly seem to have the East Conference locked up with three games to play as Middle Tennessee State are one win behind and have already lost to the Thundering Herd.

The battle in the West to face Marshall is still ongoing, Louisiana Tech are undefeated in conference play and have been very convincing. Rice is just behind with one loss but this division will be decided by the game between these two teams on the final day of the regular season in Ruston, Louisiana.

Bowl game for champion: Technically the champion is able to choose their bowl game so its likely to be the Hawaii Bowl (vs. a Mountain West team) or the Bahamas Bowl (vs. MAC) due to the destination.

Mid-American Conference:

Out in the MAC East, Bowling Green has the edge over the chasing pack by a game and a half. Realistically two wins from their final three will see the Falcons win the division due to them having the tie-breaker over Ohio, Akron and UMass. They face Toledo in a few weeks time which could be a dress-rehearsal for the MAC championship game.

The race for the West Division is really getting tight. After losing to Northern Illinois on Tuesday, Toledo and the Huskies are tied at 5-1 with Western Michigan just behind at 4-1. The Rockets take on a solid Bowling Green team next Wednesday so it’s a very tough stretch for Toledo. The only advantage they have is that they beat Western Michigan in overtime back in October but since they fell in Dekalb this week they will need some help from the Huskies to take the division title.

Bowl game for champion: Most likely the Go Daddy Bowl or Boca Raton Bowl

Mountain West Conference:

The first thing that is apparent is the fact that the Mountain Division appears to be far stronger than the West Division. In the West, Nevada and San Diego State are tied for the lead at 3-2 but Nevada has the tiebreaker after beating the Aztecs ten days ago. The Mountain Division has three teams with better records than either Nevada or San Diego State.

Colorado State are creeping onto some Top 25 polls as they are 9-1 on the season and lead the conference at 5-1. Their only loss came to Boise State who are 4-1 along with Utah State who the Rams have already beaten. So effectively the Boise State Broncos control their own destiny if they win out, beating Utah State in the process on November 29th. If that happens, they will have the tie-breaker over Colorado State and knock Utah State down to 6-2.

Bowl game for champion: Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl against the fifth pick from the Pac-12

Sun Belt Conference:

With 11 teams they don’t split this conference into divisions so there is no conference championship game. The difficulty in a conference like this without divisions is that teams won’t all play each other and this year that could be a problem with Georgia Southern at 7-0 with only Louisiana Monroe left while Louisiana Lafayette is 5-0.

Both sides could finish undefeated and share the conference title but obviously Georgia Southern is the more likely with only one game left to win. Louisiana-Lafayette has in-state rival Louisiana-Monroe and Troy on the road with Appalachian State at home left if they are to go undefeated in conference play. A conference title for the Eagles would be a huge achievement given this is their first year in the conference after moving up from FCS. Due to their two-year transition period, however, they won’t be able play in a bowl game this year.

Bowl game for champion: R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl versus a Conference USA opponent.

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