Where do non-power five programs fall in bowl discussions?


The Appalachian Online

Nick Joyner

Resumes tell the whole story for potential bowl hopefuls, not necessarily records

When you talk about postseason college football, you are going to have a lot of controversy. Discussing the better team can be extremely difficult, particularly when the teams at hand haven’t met on the field.

That is where resumes come in.

Let’s look at Georgia Southern from App State’s very own Sun Belt Conference, who now sits at 8-3 (7-0 Sun Belt). In non-conference games, the Eagles are 1-3 with losses at N.C. State, Georgia Tech and Navy.

Earlier in the year, the two losses to ACC foes N.C. State and Georgia Tech were beacons of light for Eagles fans. In week one, the Wolfpack defeated Georgia Southern on a last second touchdown pass and escaped with a 24-23 come-from-behind victory.

The next week, the Eagles fought back from a 35-10 halftime deficit to lose on yet another last minute, fourth quarter touchdown pass by Georgia Tech. Georgia Southern lost that game 42-38. Navy, a 5-5 independent school, blew the Eagles out of the water last week, 52-19.

Indeed, college football postseason play can be a bit tricky. We don’t always have the luxury of seeing any two given teams face off to determine the better team.

Resumes, at the end of the day, have to be the deciding factor. If two teams have similar records, but one of them has more impressive victories, how could you not select them over a team with inferior wins?

Let’s compare Georgia Southern to a school in a much bigger conference, but with a similar record such as Utah, who resides in the Pac-12 Conference, and sits at 7-3 with some very impressive wins.

The Utes have wins at Michigan, UCLA – then ranked #8 – and Stanford. UCLA is currently 8-2, good for a No. 11 position in the college football playoff ranking.

Michigan and Stanford, although having down years, are two schools with rich talent and tradition. Stanford is coming off a year in which they were the Pac-12 champions.

At home, Utah has struggled a bit. The Utes have a very impressive win over the University of Southern California, a team ranked No. 24 in both the AP and coaches’ polls. Outside of the 24-21 win over the Trojans, Utah has beaten some less impressive teams such as Idaho State and Fresno State.

The three losses, however, is what separates Utah from a team like Georgia Southern.

Utah’s first loss at home came to Washington State, a lowly Pac-12 team with a marginal 3-7 record. After that hiccup, though, Utah has been playing great football.

The two other losses Utah has encountered came at the hands of No. 2 Oregon and No. 6 Arizona State. The Arizona State loss was not only a road game for Utah, but they lost that game 19-16 in overtime.

Who were we comparing Utah to, again? Oh yeah, Georgia Southern. With a resume as stacked as Utah’s, it’s pretty hard to compare a team like Georgia Southern to the Utes.

Close losses to N.C. State and Georgia Tech simply do not compare to losses against Oregon and Arizona State.

Until Georgia Southern is able to string together a few impressive wins, they should not get into a bowl over any power five conference school.

Hanging around with teams like N.C. State and Georgia Tech is simply not going to get the job done. If a smaller school is going to stack up with the big boys, they not only have to schedule the bigger schools – they have to beat them.

Story: Nick Joyner, Senior Sports Reporter

When it comes to bowls, don’t overlook quality non-power five programs

The College Football Bowl Series has had some new changes this year with the new four-team playoff system coming into play.

Two of college footballs biggest bowls, the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl, will now be the playoff games before the National Championship game. However, there are still 38 bowl games for the 76 eligible teams who have at least six wins or are declared worthy based on a conference title.

With the new college football playoffs, the 38 other bowl games include three New Year bowl games including the Cotton, Fiesta and Peach bowls.

The new rules state the highest ranked team from the group of five non-power conferences – the Mountain West, Conference-USA, American Athletic, Sun Belt and Mid-American – gets a guaranteed spot in one of these three bowls.

Georgia Southern is currently first in the Sun Belt with an 8-3 overall record and a conference mark of 7-0 in its first year in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision after transitioning from the Football Championship Subdivision.

As is the case for App State, NCAA rules say a transitioning team cannot make a bowl game. However, with Georgia Southern leading the conference with only three losses to N.C. State, Georgia Tech and Navy, there is an outside chance they could petition and be selected to play in a bowl game.

This raises questions about whether a non-power team deserves to make a bowl game over a team who has a harder schedule in power conferences such as the Big Ten, Big 12, ACC, Pac-12 or SEC.

Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson said in an interview with USA Today that the only way Georgia Southern could get in a bowl game is if there are fewer than 76 bowl-eligible teams and the NCAA gives them a waiver to make a bowl.

“All of our [bowl-eligible] teams would have to be placed before they could even come in the mix,” Benson said in the interview.

Georgia Southern should be given the chance to make a bowl game over bigger teams because a team that wins its conference should get the chance to compete like any other team. Georgia Southern is handling everyone they face in the Sun Belt, and still have higher quality wins compared to bigger teams such as Marshall.

During college basketball’s “March Madness” tournament, a team with a losing record can get hot at the right time, win their conference tournament and then make the NCAA tournament. This allows smaller teams, who have beaten their conference competition, to compete against bigger and better teams to see what they are made of.
Just like basketball, smaller football programs should be given the opportunity to make a bowl game.

Power-five football schools have their own competition, just like smaller schools. If a school performs well, they should be given an equal chance to make a bowl game.

Georgia Southern has the requisite amount of wins to make a bowl game, and with ineligibility to make a bowl game in their transition year, they have to hope less than 76 teams win six games, or they are out of luck.

Smaller schools in weaker conferences should be given an equal chance to make a bowl game if their record and win qualities stack up to power-house teams.

Story: Jason Huber, Intern Sports Reporter