It may only be week one of the college football season, but results from every week matter as teams from the AAC, C-USA, MAC, Mountain West, and Sun Belt vie to get into the FBS College Football Playoff and/or the New Year Six bowl game.
There will not be a ranking of teams 1-10, it will be discussed weekly in tiers. We will give you an idea of what we think could happen.
Cincinnati is the only team that made the College Football Playoff from the AAC and the G5 (in 2021). Will there be another team to make it in 2023? The cards are stacked against the teams in all five conferences.
Cincy needed the win over Notre Dame that year to solidify its resume. The schedule matters, and which team faces whom can also factor into it. Depending on the rankings list only two teams were ranked in the final poll from the G5 in 2022 (Tulane and Fresno State) so it really is an uphill battle.
Tier 1: Make the College Football Playoff (top four FBS teams)
Tulane Green Wave
The Green Wave are the only team right now in this tier. They had a very impressive win over Sun Belt powerhouse South Alabama this weekend. Quarterback Michael Pratt looked great and was very efficient, competing 14-of-15 passes for 294 yards and 4 TDs, with a rushing TD. His favorite target was Jha'Quan Jackson who had six catches for 106 yards and 2 TDs. The defense secured five turnovers, two interceptions, and three fumble recoveries. Tulane isn't a one-year wonder, it is building upon last year's success.
The Green Wave have 22nd-ranked Ole Miss coming to home in New Orleans this weekend. If there is a must-win for Tulane to keep the CFB playoff hopes alive it's right here with this massive opportunity against the SEC. The Green Wave finish non-conference play this month with Southern Miss and Nicholls, but wins against those two won't be enough to sway voters. Tulane will need a win against Ole Miss and for Ole Miss to finish strongly and South Alabama to be at least in the Sun Belt title game to be a potential playoff team and likely, NY6. Oh, and they've got to finish strongly in a challenging AAC.
Tier 2: NY6 Bowl
Fresno State Bulldogs
Aside from Tulane mentioned above, the Fresno State Bulldogs put on quite an opening act. The defending Mountain West Champs were able to move the ball against Big 10 Purdue. Mikey Keene the sophomore QB was impressive (31/44 for 366 yards 4 TDs). Standout WR Erik Brooks had nine catches for 170 yards and 2 TDs. Fresno State will see Arizona State in a couple of weeks and if it can grab a win there, it will solidify it as the top candidate for an NY6 bowl game.
Tier 3: Outside the NY6 Bowl For Now
Boise State Broncos
The Broncos were boat-raced by Washington 56-19. Given what Boise State had coming back this should have been a closer game. The Broncos will need to win the MW and be undefeated in conference play with a win over UCF to make an NY6 Bowl game.
UTSA fell to Houston 17-14. The Roadrunners defensively were really good. The offense had too many turnovers. UTSA could have knocked on the door for a CFB Playoff spot but the door is shut or as close to shut as it could be. They have Tennessee on the schedule. If (cough, cough) they beat the Volunteers they could find a way into the conversation, possibly. Right now though this team is still a threat in the AAC but they have ground to make up to get into the NY6 discussion.
The Hilltoppers took down USF 41-24. Austin Reed went 29/50 for 336 yards and 2 TDs, and added 3 carries for 27 yards and a score. WKU was impressive to watch and they will be tough to deal with in C-USA. If WKU can beat Troy and keep pace with Ohio State in their matchup, that will move the needle closer to a NY6 bowl game.
The Flames took down Bowling Green 34-24. Liberty looked good: Three rushers with more than 50 yards and QB Kaidon Salter threw for 11/20 for 143 yards and 2 TDs. The defense and specifically the secondary balled out as they had five interceptions. Liberty will need to stay undefeated to stay in this tier.
App State Mountaineers
The Mountaineers took down FCS Gardner-Webb 45-24 and is just warming up. Starting QB Joey Aguilar went 11/13 with 174 yards and 4 TDs. App State will see P5 North Carolina and if the Mountaineers can turn that close loss from last season into a win they jump to the front of NY6 bowl game line.
From the "receiving votes" realm, you have to give a ton of credit to Texas State for taking down P5 Baylor 42-31. Wyoming gets credit as well as it beat Texas Tech 35-33. It was a good weekend for the Mountain West.
These tiers will be updated every week after Saturday's action.
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