Could a non-Power 5 team have made the college football playoff?

Poor Marshall, before they lost to Western Kentucky, only made it to #24 in the CFP rankings, despite being undefeated. That’s probably because they were stuck in Conference USA, where all the other teams sucked.

Of course, if perennially awful teams like Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, or Perdue turned things around and went 12-0 in a season, I’d expect them to be in the playoffs.

Some people would make the argument that an undefeated team deserves a shot - after all, if you win all your games, it’s not like you could have done better. (Well, I suppose margin of victory could be better, as FSU is learning this season.) But then others would point to the time Hawaii went 12-0, only to get stomped 45-10 by Georgia in the 2008 Sugar Bowl. But then you could point right back to Boise State, who went 12-0, and then won the Fiesta bowl vs. Oklahoma.

So the question is: Could a non-Power 5 conference team make the current 4-team playoff with a perfect season? Or would it require Team Chaos to have the best year ever and leave every Power 5 team with at least 3 losses?

I think it depends on which non-conference teams it beat. If it beats two teams that end up in the top 20, then I think it has a shot. The problem is, most top-level teams stay away from the Boise States and Marshalls out of fear that a loss would do far more harm than a win would benefit.

Yes, of course it’s possible - as long as it’s Notre Dame!

I knew I should have put more limitations on the OP.

Yes, Notre Dame, who famously joins a conference in everything but football, but then plays at least 5 games a year with teams from that conference. Yep, they’re totally not a P5 team. Totally.

Moved Cafe Society --> the Game Room.

Colorado State would have had an argument if they could have gone undefeated this year.

Not sure that they make it in, but it becomes a real fight for that 4th spot.

Based on this year, it doesn’t appear that it is possible. No non-Power 5 team managed to even crack the top 20. If the committee has that low a view of these conferences, it seems doubtful that even the best possible case scenario (an undefeated season with a couple wins over good Power 5 teams) could move one of their teams into the top 4.

The question is whether they could; observing that none did (or even came close) does little to answer the question.

There’s no reason to think that the committee will give results significantly different from the polls or BCS. Looking over the last ten years, I see 2-4 non-power 5 teams that could have made it:

2010 TCU (MWC)
Ranked #3 before bowls

2009 TCU (MWC) and/or 2009 Cincinnati (Big East)
Ranked #4 and #5

2004 Utah (MWC)
Ranked #5

The requirement is going to be essentially:

  1. Go undefeated
  2. Including at least two power-conference teams
  3. Preferably some ranked teams
    Teams like Boise, UCF, East Carolina, and others play a schedule that would likely get them in it if they go undefeated. Marshall didn’t play anyone worthwhile.
  1. FSU has so far.
  2. FSU has played 11 of them to date - all but one as a matter of fact.
  3. Yep, got one, about to play another (if you include ranking at the time FSU played them, then they have a T5 and a T10).
    FSU started the year at #1 in all polls. They haven’t lost. And they’re on the bubble at #4. How in the heck do you think a G5 team makes it there?

At this point, if you want to be in the CFP, your conference better sign a contract with ESPN for a network, otherwise you’re fucked.

You need to re-read the title of this thread.

  1. With regard to this particular issue, it does appear so far that the committee has been much less favorable to these teams than either of the other polls have, though we only have one season of data.

  2. Based on the evidence above, it appears that when these teams do get good enough to crack the top of the ratings, they soon get invited to join power conferences. Maybe what college football needs is a system of promotion and relegation; each of the 5 power conferences could make an arrangement with one of the 5 other conferences such that after each season, the worst team in the power conference and the best team in the minor conference switch conferences.

I think Zakalwes point is that if FSU with what they’ve accomplished this year are barely in the top 4 it is almost guaranteed that a non power-5 team will never even come close to making it.

Okay. I did.
**Could a non-Power 5 team have made the college football playoff? **
Maybe you should reread my post in context.
My point is that a Power 5 team did all of the things that furt said and is still just barely in. How in the world could a Gof5 team do it working from the outside in?

ETA: Or what Nauplius said. :slight_smile:

The committee isn’t giving their opinion of the 2009 Cincinnati Bearcats, they’re giving their opinion of the 2014 Cincinnati Bearcats (etc.). The two have nothing to do with each other. If there was a 12-0 midmajor, we’d have an answer. If there was an 11-1 midmajor, we could maybe guess. This year, all but two have at least three losses. There simply is no midmajor that deserves to be in the top 20. I say this as a fan of midmajor teams who wishes the system treated them better.

If you want to compare how “favorable” they are, you’d have to compare the 2 and 3 loss midmajors this year to 2 and 3 loss midmajors from the past. I highly doubt you’ll see much difference. Note that the playoff committee rankings this year are almost the same as the AP & USA Today polls.

For good or ill, never gonna happen. The expansion of the last 10-15 years mostly centered around 1) getting conferences up to 12 teams so they could have a championship game, and 2) in the case of the Big 10 and SEC, expanding beyond 12 so that they could create a larger and more populous geographic footprint for TV money. With the exception of the Big 12 still having room for more teams, that window has closed.

Any further expansion – i.e. to 16 – would means teams from one division would only play the other division once every four years or so. Relegation would mean you might never play them again. Rivalries and tradition are the heartbeat of college football, and matter waaaaaay more than making a system that’s fair for the little guys. Washington wants to play and beat Washington State every year, not see them relgated to the MWC so Boise can step up.
Schools care about what’s good for them. Conferences care about what’s good for their member schools. Nobody with any power really cares about “fair.” Sucks, but it’s reality.

With one week to go, there are 6 P5 teams with 1 loss or less. An hypothetical undefeated midmajor would likely be behind them, but in front of the 2 loss teams.

I’m gonna guess that one or two of the top 6 will lose this weekend, and drop out of consideration. That would leave our midmajor ranked #5 or #6, and thus SOL in 2014.

But this is not necessarily a typical year: in plenty of years, there are less than 4 1-loss P5 teams.

As a grad from a service academy (in fact the worst in terms of football performance) I actually wish they would just go ahead and make a new division in between FCS and FBS, for all the mid-majors.

The reality is that there is a wide gulf between the P5 and G5 schools at this point, and only a small handful that really go against the grain. BYU is one I can think of, in terms of past football success and size of fanbase, and athletic department revenue.

But let’s take Marshall as a good example of a mid-major. Their stadium holds 38,000, a number it almost never hits. In fact I think their only official sell out was against in-state rival West Virginia, and largely because many West Virginia fans attended the game. For several games this season, their undefeated team drew less than 30,000 fans, sometimes in the mid-20,000s. This is important because success in college football is a nexus of money, fan support, alumni/booster donations, recruiting etc. A lot of those things don’t work with a small, disinterest fan base. Marshall is typical of G5 schools.

Marshall in particular had a schedule weaker than some 10-20 FCS schools, due to having a late drop from their schedule and they had to replace it with one of the worst schools in all of FCS, which really hurt their schedule strength (I believe it was Rhode Island that has like 10 losses in FCS this year.) Even undefeated Marshall simply didn’t belong this year, they didn’t play a single P5 team, and I think they only played one team with a better than .500 record. There is something to be said for going undefeated, but it can’t be against absolutely nobody.

I think while it’ll upset some fellow mid major alums/fans, it should be recognized that teams like my Black Knights, or Ohio University, or Northern Illinois, just simply are not playing the same game as Alabama or Oregon. It may look the same, but it’s really not. It’s unfair I think to consider them the same, I’d like to see the mid-majors as their own division with their own playoff. I’ve watched the FCS playoffs before, they’re quite fun. I see no reason mid-major fans wouldn’t enjoy their own playoff versus the current system where at the very best we may sneak into a big time bowl once every 5 years, and other than that we get dispersed to a handful of suck ass bowls in no name towns.

I’d like a tee shirt from the Suck Ass Bowl.

I actually agree with Martin Hyde a lot. The FCS is really two conferences mashed together.

I also like Thing Fish’s idea of promoting and demoting teams, much like happens in European Football, but that’s horribly unlikely because conferences won’t want to give up their awesome basketball team just because they suck at football.

The system put in place, and the guidelines that the playoff committee announced a long time ago, have rendered it impossible for a G5 team to make the playoff. The committee has put a lot of emphasis on Strength of Schedule, so you will see less and less good P5 teams playing good G5 teams. P5 teams get 3 or 4 out of conference games. Starting this year it looks like they all scheduled 1 good P5 team, 1 or 2 really bad G5 teams, and 1 FCS team. No P5 team is going to schedule Marshall or Boise State when they can schedule Florida International or Florida Atlantic. Like it was said before, a loss to Marshall can do far more damage than a win over Marshall would help. I beleive that you will see more and more of this trend, untill a new division is formed.

I wish the playoff would include all 10 FBS conferences. To me, part of the fun of the NCAA basketball tournament is when teams like James Madison or Saint Louis makes a deep run, where David cuts down a couple of Goliaths. The power 5 and little 5 conferences exploit each other- the big guys get some easy wins at home and the little guys get a paycheck for hitting the canvas. They keep up the charade of equality but not really. I think it would be more fun to go to 16 teams and give Toledo or Northern Illinois or Western Michigan (my daughter’s school- yay!) a shot to knock off one of the big guys in round 1 of the playoffs.