Happy College football season to everyone! College football season has officially kicked off as of last night and thank goodness it is back. All this talk about who is going to win it all and all the speculation can finally be put to the test and we can see for ourselves who is the best in the land. Everyone always wants to talk about the supposedly best teams in college football and who is going to win it all and who can make a run, blah blah blah. The trend of this topic though seems to always be someone from the SEC, Big Ten, etc. I’m here to ask you though, what about the other guys? You know, the teams that win a lot in their non-Power 5 conference but aren’t respected like the teams of Power 5 conferences, the team that could win one big game but questioned on how they could handle a schedule of big games, the teams that are not talked about, but actually the most dangerous in this College Football Playoff system.
Well, for those teams, that’s what it’s all about right now, the forgotten teams of the Group of Five conferences that are already dismissed before the season even begins. So, who from this grouping can make that automatic bid in the New Year’s Day Bowls or even make a push for the college football playoff? I’ve got three teams that I think will give anyone a run for their money this year and possibly put themselves in position to win big this season.
Boise State Broncos
Sound familiar? It certainly should, because these guys are one of the main reasons these teams get any respect at all. Boise’s run in this century has made them one of college football’s most winning programs in the past 15 years, and they can certainly beat anyone on any given day. People give them flack for moving to the Mountain West instead of a possible joining with a Power 5 conference, but maybe when the offer comes, they will move, but for now this is where they will dominate. Their schedule is not strong by any means; their toughest games appear to be Washington, at BYU, at Utah State, and at Colorado State. Yeah that doesn’t look very impressive, but that’s the hand they are playing this year and with a returning offensive line, and pretty much the whole defense, they are set up well to make a run. They will have a new QB in Ryan Finley, but regardless who the running back is, Boise will ground and pound and if they can open up holes, anyone can run through them. If Finely develops along the season, they can become a complete team and stake a claim at a New Year’s Six Bowl, or maybe even a College Football Playoff spot.
The projected AAC Champion in my opinion led by their Power 5 experienced coach in Tommy Tuberville. The Bearcats can make a claim at a high ranking and stick their nose in the hunt for a New Year Six Bowl and/or playoff spot if one thing can happen for them, and that’s avoiding the injury bug. Past seasons have seen them suffer because of injuries to key positions, QB especially. If they can avoid that, then they could be on their way. They return their QB Gunner Kiel who threw for over 30 TD’s last year and they return a plethora of talent around him. They will be weakest at spots on the offensive line because of lack of experience and areas in the defensive front seven but they have experience that is ready to fill in. If their front seven on defense can control the line of scrimmage, that will give their very experienced and talented secondary chances to make plays. Cincinnati’s schedule doesn’t appear to daunting either, but they must stay focused week in and week out because there are good teams in their conference like USF and UCF. They also have a road trip to BYU that could be troublesome as well as a home game against The “U” which could add to some credibility, maybe, never hurts beating a Power 5 conference team though.
Georgia Southern Eagles
That’s right, the reigning Sun Belt Champions in their first season in the FBS level. Georgia Southern caught everyone by surprise by going undefeated in conference play and winning the Sun Belt. A traditional powerhouse at the FCS level, with 6 National Championships, Georgia Southern approached last year like those previous glory days, they ran and ran and ran the football. A different look running the triple option, mainly from shotgun and pistol, these Eagles took the conference by storm and managed to finish 9-3 on the year with narrow defeats at NC State and Orange Bowl Champion Georgia Tech. This year they will continue to do more of the same led by running back Matt Brieda, the Eagles will look to continue running and running teams into the ground. They have a new offensive line which could hurt, but all these guys played some last year in back-up roles so there is experience. The defense will remain mostly intact and ready to feast on opposing offenses like they did last year. The Eagles will have tough games in conference against ULM, South Alabama, and hated rival App St. but that just isn’t sexy enough. What is sexy is their out-of-conference schedule including road games at West Virginia and Georgia. Talk about your chance to really make a statement to everyone in college football. If they can manage a couple of big upsets and win their conference, they could very well be in the hunt for a New Year Six Bowl and who knows, maybe even a playoff spot.
Morale of this story is beware of these teams because, in the end, they just might sneak up on everyone in the college football world and stake a claim for a shot at the National Championship.