With the unusual circumstances from the coronavirus this season, various conferences such as the Big Ten and the Pac-12 have opted to play football at a later date. This has left the door open for numerous possibilities, including the possibility of a Group of Five school making the CFP. So, can it be done this year?
It certainly can. For me, there are a couple schools that come to mind in this category. One is Cincinnati, which has an elite defense led by cornerback Ahmad Gardner. This was a conference led by Central Florida, but Scott Frost left for Nebraska. The Knights are still a good team, but they're not going to be the undefeated juggernauts they once were. This is going to be the Bearcats' conference, barring underperforming expectations from the Bearcats.
Another school that could crack the CPF is a Sun Belt school, Appalachian State. Quarterback Zac Thomas (2,718 passing yards, 28 touchdowns last season) is one of the most underrated passers in college football. He and Christian Horn are a dynamic duo that can lead the Mountaineers to the playoff. Of course, they will have to deal with Georgia Southern in the Sun Belt. But Appalachian State still looks like the better team.
There are other factors that can lead to a Group of Five school making the CFP. One is the ACC, which has not been a strong conference as of late. This would be especially true if Clemson were to suffer a loss or two in their conference. Who else would take their place in the playoff? North Carolina? Duke? The only other viable contender in the ACC is Notre Dame and they've relinquished their independent status just for this season.
The Big 12 is in the same boat. What happens if Oklahoma suffers a loss or two? It's far unlikely that both the ACC and Big 12 will have two-loss champions, but chaos will ensue if one of these conferences has a two-loss champ.
This season (if it finishes) will be one of the most chaotic college football seasons to date. With both the Big Ten and Pac-12 sitting out, it could mean that a Group of Five school finally cracks the playoff. Either that, or the SEC just gets three schools in. I don't know if that would be as fun, though.
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