In just five seasons, the College Football Playoffs has proven its worth as a strong fountain of who is the best team in the nation. The playoffs have also defined other crucial attributes of other top elite programs. There is, though, one huge attribute that the playoffs haven’t been able to address in the five seasons of its existence. Teams from the Group-of-Five conferences have been getting consistent recognition as competitive programs but they haven’t been getting the playoff spot they feel they deserve.
The UCF Knights have tried to fight against the norm of the new College Football Playoff system because they were left out of the playoffs in 2017 despite finishing with a 13-0 record. The following season was a step up for the Knights but was left out of the top four at the last week of the 2018 season.
G5 Teams That Can Make Playoff Run
This 2019 season has many teams looking to the top four slots for the College Football Playoffs. This season, though, the playoff committee will be looking into many more G5 teams. They will also closely evaluate wildcards teams that can create a potential outbreak for the National Championship title. While there are many teams that can make a statement for a title chase, there five non-automatic conference teams that can make a legitimate run of the top playoff spots. To bet on one of the G5 teams making the playoffs or numerous other options for college football betting, you can check out the sports book at online-rock.com.
#22 UCF Knights – 12-1 (8-0 in AAC play) in 2018
For the past two seasons, the Golden Knights have defined themselves as legitimate contenders for the College Football playoffs. Through two seasons, the UCF Knights have accounted for a 25-1 record. Defensive end Shaquem Griffin, quarterback McKenzie Milton, and former head coach Scott Frost have highly contributed to this success. The Knights are talented to make another undefeated run but not without obstacles. UCF took a big hit in the 2018 American Conference Championship game when Milton tore his ACL. He will not be ready for the 2019 College Football season. Head coach Josh Heupel and current starting quarterback Brandon Wimbush are not afraid to take the task at hand.
The biggest downfall to their playoff chances wasn’t because of their conference. It was their weak out of conference play. This season, the Knights will not have an excuse to miss the playoff if they have another perfect record. That will be easier said than done with the Knights having a brutal non-conference schedule. UCF will have three weeks of non-conference play at Florida Atlantic, at home against the Stanford Cardinal, and finally at the Pittsburgh Panthers. It will be a tough obstacle to go undefeated through the non-conference and still go perfect through a highly competitive American Conference. If the Knights do go undefeated, then they will very likely have a ticket punched to the College Football Playoffs.
#29 Boise State Broncos – 10-3 (7-1 in MWC play) in 2018
Every since the 2007 Fiesta Bowl upset over the Oklahoma Sooners, Boise State has been a competitor year-in and year-out. The Broncos have won 10 or more games in 14 out of the last 17 seasons. This year should another year for the Broncos to get at least get 10 wins but there might be a higher ceiling. The Broncos return six starters on offense and eight starters on defense from last season. Boise’s defense was tied for 12th in sacks accounted for, with 39. Hybrid position defensive end/outside linebacker Curtis Weaver was the team’s leader in sacks with just under 10. He will be back to not only lead the defense in sacks, but he looks to make the defense one of the most efficient units in College Football.
The Broncos do have a test in week one against the Florida State Seminoles in Jacksonville. Considering that the Seminoles are looking to come off a terrible season, this will be a perfect time to beat a Power Five conference team. The Broncos will have to reload quickly through the remainder of this off-season. They do not have a returning starter at quarterback or at any of the wide receiver positions. Last season, the Broncos were ranked 18th in the nation in passing yards per game (292). A good schedule and a history of power five victories might give the Broncos the edge to get a playoff berth if they go undefeated.
#39 Cincinnati Bearcats – 11-2 (6-2 in AAC play) in 2018
This is a Bearcats team that knows how to better in the off-season. In Luke Fickell’s first year as head coach in 2017, Cincinnati went 4-8. Last season, the Bearcats started off strong with a 26-17 victory at UCLA and finished with an 11-win season. This may be the most undervalued group of five teams talked about in this off-season. Cincinnati returns seven offensive starters including quarterback Desmond Ridder and running back Michael Warren II. Ridder passed for 2,445 yards, 20 touchdowns, and only five interceptions. Warren rushed for 1,329 yards and 19 touchdowns on 244 carries. The Bearcats will have to address a young and inexperienced offensive line throughout the remainder of this offseason.
The biggest surprise of the Bearcats last season was the defense that was ranked eighth in the nation in points allowed per game (17.2). The Bearcats only allowed three opponents last season to score more than 24 points. The defense will have seven returning starters scattered throughout the field. Cincinnati will have a home match-up against the UCLA Bruins, a game they can win again this year. The biggest test of their College Football Playoff potential is their week two road trip to Columbus, Ohio to take on the new look of the Ohio State Buckeyes. If Cincinnati can get by with the two wins, then the country will know that this Cincinnati team is for real.
#44 Army Black Knights – 11-2 in 2018
Every listing of potential teams needs a dark horse. Army was one of the surprising teams last year because not only did they win, they won big. They had a nine-game win streak towards the end of their season including a 70-14 blowout win against the Houston Cougars in the Armed Forces Bowl. Army even gave the Oklahoma Sooners a huge scare before they lost with a 28-21 overtime score. This triple-option offensive unit can be very unpredictable. Quarterback Kelvin Hopkins Jr. was the first player in the program’s history to rush and pass for over 1,000-yards separately. Now Hopkins is a senior and looking to add more firepower to the Black Knights.
In the entire 47-years of the Commander-In-Chief Trophy, the Black Knights have only won the trophy eight times. Head coach Jeff Monken has his team hungry for much more than the CIC Trophy. The Black Knights return seven starters on an offense that was ranked second in rushing yards per game (312.5) and 35th in scoring offense (32.8). If their offense is up to sync, the Black Knights can account for a 12-1 regular season record. The week two trip to Ann Arbor to face the Michigan Wolverines will be a tough matchup to handle. If they can create a tough matchup for the Wolverines as they did for the Sooners last season, then Army will be a fun team to watch this upcoming season.
#53 Houston Cougars – 8-5 (5-3 in AAC play) in 2018
The Cougars had one of the worst five-game stretches at the end of the season in 2018. They lost four out of the last five games including the 70-14 loss to Army in the Armed Forces Bowl. As a result of the disastrous ending to the season, Major Applewhite was replaced as head coach by West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen. He comes in at a potential time for Houston as the Cougars are looking to remain consistent in wins but also to be a potential New Year’s Six Bowl game team. The Cougars return eight offensive starters from last season. This includes their top three receivers, their offensive tackles, and quarterback D’Eriq King. Last season, he passed for 219 completions (out of 345 attempts) for 2,982 yards, 36 touchdowns, and only six interceptions.
The Cougars were ranked fifth last season in points per game (43.9) and seventh in total yards per game 512.5). Holgorsen will be able to coach his Cougars offense to score consistently like he did at West Virginia. He will need to do so with the defense looking to rebuild after the departure of defensive tackle Ed Oliver. The Cougars’ defense will have a rough outing at Oklahoma in week one and against Washington State in week three if they cannot establish themselves in the off-season. They’ll also have a tough schedule at North Texas and at UCF. That might be a positive attribute if they get an explosive team going.