4.) Liberty Flames
Is the saying, give me peace or give me liberty? Maybe it's "give me liberty or give me peace." Either way, the Liberty Flames have been lighting up college football all season, being one of only three undefeated teams in college football. This was their second season at the FBS level and their first season in Conference USA.
The former FCS level flames won 12 games this season, they won 16 total games in the past two seasons. That includes their last season as an FCS-level program and their first season at the FBS level as an independent team. Led by sophomore Kaidon Salter, who threw for 31 touchdowns to go with 4 interceptions, junior running back Quinton Cooley, who rushed for 1,322 yards and 16 touchdowns, the Flames are set to play #8 Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl.
5.) SMU Mustangs
The #24 Mustangs are 11-2 this season. Who would have thought? No one paid attention to SMU at all, and after their all-world quarterback Tanner Mordecai, who threw for 39 touchdowns in 2021 and then followed that up with 30 touchdowns last season, decided to transfer to Wisconsin, they were a truly afterthought. That's a lot of production walking out the door.
Have no fear. Sophomore Preston Stone is here, he stepped right in and picked up where Mordecai left off, throwing for 3,197 yards to go along with 28 touchdowns. With a running back by committee backfield and no 1,000-yard receiver, the offense was truly a group effort. The defense played a huge part, as they were ranked #4 in the country in yards given up per play (4.4 yards per play) and #14 in points allowed (18.8 points per game). The mustangs play Boston College in the Wasabi Fenway Bowl.