There is Tuesday Night MACtion tonight with the potential to affect the Group of 5 New Year’s 6 bowl landscape. Otherwise, this post could await the College Football Playoff rankings refresh and could be a lot less speculative. The speculation: How far will Houston (#19 last week) fall? Will Temple replace Memphis as a third AAC team in the committee’s rankings? Will Toledo re-appear, as the Rockets did in the AP poll?
American Athletic Conference
Like all the other conferences, the American has some de facto play-in games for the conference championship. Navy at Houston Friday will decide the West. Should the AAC West champ win the Conference Championship Game (which the West division winner will host), a NY6 bowl bid is a near certainty. American fans concerned about the chances of the AAC not getting that bid should pay attention to the East. Temple clinches with a win over Connecticut Saturday night, or if Central Florida beats South Florida Thursday. A 2-loss Temple as AAC champion is also a very solid bet to be the highest ranked G5 champ. South Florida would get a bump in the rankings with a CCG win over a ranked AAC West winner, but would leave AAC fans on tenterhooks for the final rankings and NY6 bid. For the record, that is three games across Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend with championship and big money implications. This conference thing might catch on.
Tuesday Night MACtion for a division crown! The Northern Illinois Huskies (8-3 / 6-1) clinch their division and book a CCG date with Bowling Green (8-3 / 6-1) with a win tonight over Ohio (7-4 / 4-3). A loss leaves the door open for 1-loss Toledo, which could steal the AAC NY6 bid. We are all Huskies tonight, my friends.
C-USA has a couple de facto play in games this weekend as well. Follow the score of Marshall (9-2 / 6-1) at Western Kentucky (9-1 / 7-0) during the Navy game, as well as Southern Mississippi (8-3 / 6-1) at Louisiana Tech (8-3 / 6-1) Saturday. A 2-loss CUSA champion should still be in the conversation for the top-ranked G5 champion.
Mountain West Conference
The MWC divisions are decided. Air Force (8-3 / 6-1) at New Mexico and San Diego State (8-3 / 7-0) hosting Nevada are about hosting the CCG or possibly a stumbling block to diminish the MW champion’s spot in the G5 pecking order. If Massey’s composite rankings are indicative of the data the committee will use, both MWC division winners are behind all four AAC contenders, all three MAC contenders, one of the 2-loss C-USA teams, and Appalachian State from the Sun Belt.
Sun Belt Conference
The Sun Belt doesn’t have a conference championship game, with regular season games both of the next two weeks. Arkansas State (7-3 / 6-0) has beaten both Appalachian State (8-2 / 6-1) and Georgia Southern (7-3 / 6-1), but ranks behind them in Massey’s composite. None of the three has opponents that could catapult them ahead of the other four G5 conferences.
To sum up, Go Navy! is always appropriate. For AAC gettin’ paid, we can all cheer for Southern Miss. In the Lupine Division, we can back the Lobos, the Wolfpack, and the Red Wolves. But for Tuesday night MACtion, we are all Huskies, all night.