East Carolina’s 20-10 loss Saturday at Temple increased the Boise State football team’s chances of reaching a New Year’s Six bowl game this year.
East Carolina was No. 23 in the initial College Football Playoff rankings — the only member of the five non-power conferences in the rankings.
The highest-ranked champion of the Mountain West, American, Sun Belt, Mid-American or Conference USA gets an automatic berth in the Fiesta, Cotton or Peach bowl in the new CFP system.
East Carolina and Marshall were considered the favorites going into November. East Carolina, which beat North Carolina and Virginia Tech, is now 6-2.
Marshall is 8-0 and ranked No. 23 in AP, but the Thundering Herd don’t have any power-conference teams on their schedule. The CFP committee didn’t include them in the initial rankings. Marshall is off this week.
Boise State returns to action next Saturday at New Mexico.
Here are the top contenders for the major bowl spot:
Marshall (8-0 overall, 4-0 Conference USA): The Herd have dominated, but the CFP committee puts an emphasis on strength of schedule. Marshall’s is as weak as you’ll find. Middle Tennessee is the only FBS team the Herd have played that has a winning record.
Colorado State (7-1, 3-1 Mountain West): The Rams beat Colorado and Boston College, but they must win the Mountain West to be eligible for the New Year’s Six spot. And to do that, they need Boise State to lose another game.
Boise State (6-2, 3-1 Mountain West): If the Broncos win out, they would have an eight-game winning streak including games against Nevada, Fresno State, BYU, San Diego State, Utah State and the West Division champion. The Broncos also beat Colorado State and potential Sun Belt champ Louisiana early in the season. That would give the Broncos — whose strength of schedule is helped by the opening loss to Ole Miss — a compelling case.
Northern Illinois (6-2, 3-1 MAC): The Huskies beat Northwestern but have losses to Arkansas and Central Michigan. If they win out, they will qualify for the MAC championship game.
Note: Georgia Southern, which is in first place in the Sun Belt, is not eligible for a bowl this year.
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