Kyle Infante

Playoff hurts mid-major's more than helps

Created on Aug. 12, 2014 4:34 AM EST

Despite the NCAA's best efforts to make the college football postseason "more fair," it has done the exact opposite. Sure the BCS had its flaws, but limiting the championship hunt to the top-4 teams seems to be about as fair as letting a computer decide the national championship game.

As of this season, the college football postseason will consist of a 4-team playoff. Seed 1 plays seed 4 and seed 2 plays seed 3 in the semifinals, and the winners play for the National Championship. How is this "more fair?" This 4-team bracket just about eliminates the possibility of any mid-major school having a shot at the National Championship.

Only 1 team from the 5 mid-major conferences will receive an automatic berth to play in, at most, 3 out of the 6 major bowl games (Fiesta, Cotton and Peach). With that format, these conferences are no better off now than before. So which of these mid-major conferences has the best chance of being represented in a major bowl this postseason?

Since the American Athletic Conference has since been demoted to mid-major, one of these teams will be the most-likely candidate. Which team has the best chance, Central Florida. UCF won the AAC Championship and proceeded to shock the nation by topping Baylor 52-42 in the Fiesta Bowl. The Knights found a new quarterback, Boise State transfer Nick Patti, and should be good to go. Teams that should give UCF a good challenge in AAC play this season are Cincinnati, Houston and newcomer Tulsa. 

Of the other 4 mid-majors, the conferences with the bast chances of having a team qualify are the Mountain West and Mid-American. These 2 conferences have been involved in 4 of the last 5 BCS bowl seasons. Utah and Texas Christian represented the Mountain West from 2009-2011, and Northern Illinois represented the MAC in 2013. Current MWC members Boise State and Hawai'i represented the Western Athletic Conference in 2007, 2008 and 2010 when Boise State faced TCU in the "non-BCS" Fiesta Bowl.

For the Mountain West, there seems to be a "Big 3" that has emerged. These teams are Fresno State, Boise State and San Diego State. All 3 of these teams shared the MWC title in 2012, but after the conference expanded to 12 teams in 2013, Fresno State claimed the top spot. Look for the "Big 3" to be at the forefront of the MWC with Utah State creeping up to challenge once again. The team that should be on top this season is a tossup considering the departure of Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr and Boise State head coach Chris Petersen. Any one of the "Big 3," and possibly Utah State, could come out as MWC champs.

Northern Illinois has been the king of the MAC since the turn of this century, appearing in the MAC championship game every season since 2010. Hopefully for them, things will not change with the departure of Heisman Trophy candidate Jordan Lynch. Although, there will likely be a changing of the guard as Bowling Green will have every opportunity to repeat as MAC champs. The Falcons boast one of the most powerful defenses in the nation lead by middle linebacker D.J. Lynch and defensive back Ryland Ward. Of Bowling Green's 4 losses last season, 3 of them were by 3 points or less, losing 21-20 to SEC opponent Mississippi State and 30-27 to Pittsburgh in the Little Caesars Bowl. Bowling Green should be at the top of the MAC on the basis of its fantastic defense and more mature offense. But do not be surprised to see teams like Ball State, Ohio, Toledo and Kent State to be top challengers for the MAC title.
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