College Football Playoff: Making case for undefeated non-Power 5 teams

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Outside of technically Notre Dame, no non-Power Five team has ever made the College Football Playoff. Will that change in 2020?

Regardless of affiliation with your favorite team, it’s always the revolving door of teams with who will make the College Football Playoff from outside the Power Five. There have been numerous amount of talented teams that have taken the challenge, but all have failed to make it to the playoff.

The first Group of Five team to make their claim for the playoff was 2016 Western Michigan. Led by current Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck, the Broncos had a perfect 12-0 regular season and won their conference championship over Ohio, 29-23. The main issue was their schedule and lack of quality competition.

The Broncos did play road games against Northwestern and Illinois. However, Northwestern was their toughest game all year and the Wildcats went 6-6 during the regular season.

The most notable teams have been the 2017 and 2018 UCF teams that went undefeated in back-to-back regular seasons, led by current Nebraska head coach Scott Frost and quarterback McKenzie Milton in 2017. That team would go on to beat Auburn in the Peach Bowl, securing their second New Year’s Six win in six years. In 2018, UCF would run the table once again, but was denied of the playoff once again. The Knights would settle for the Fiesta Bowl and fall to another SEC foe in LSU.

Last season, Memphis was the Group of Five team eligible to make a New Year’s Six game. In 2020, in the second weekend of November, there are four teams vying for a spot at minimum in the New Year’s Six. Each of the teams, throwing down their resume, coming from different avenues.

BYU has been led by a Heisman candidate and a team that has suffocated everyone on their schedule up to this point. Cincinnati has lingered around the top 10 nearly all season, headlined by a stout defense. Coastal Carolina has been the quietest out of the group, built with consistency on both sides of the football. Finally, Liberty, which has a high-powered offense, is led by a dual-threat quarterback and coming off its biggest win of the season.

Regardless of scheduling, each team has won the big games on their schedule to this point. For some, they’ve played like a playoff team and beaten the opponents by a certain amount that a playoff-contending team would do, regardless of conference and schedule.

The Big 12 has taken itself out of the playoff conversation and the chances of the Pac-12 are growing slimmer. If there was a year for a non-Power Five team to sneak in, it would be 2020.

We take a look at each undefeated non-Power Five team that has the best chance to make it undefeated and their odds at the College Football Playoff, if they do.

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