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Saturday, Oct 20, 2018
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Peach pursuit: How the Group of Five's best fared in Week 8

Each week henceforth, we'll take a look at how USF fared in comparison to the other serious Group of Five contenders for the New Year's Six bowl berth. The Group of Five conference champion ranked highest by the College Football Playoff committee earns the New Year's Six nod. Presuming that berth will be in the Peach Bowl (though it could be the Fiesta), we've devised a gauge of sorts measuring each team's Peach Bowl chances at this moment in time.

Peachy: In the driver's seat for a Peach Bowl berth
Ripening: A team to watch. Peach Bowl outlook getting stronger
Bruised: Peach Bowl chances took a recent hit
The Pits: Not a serious contender at this time

Boise State (5-2)
This week: defeated Wyoming 24-14
Next week: at Utah State
Don't discount the Broncos' New Year's Six odds, which have improved considerably after consecutive wins against San Diego State and Wyoming. Granted, some dominoes still have to tumble for Boise to get back into this thing, including USF and UCF both losing at least once. But if the Broncos can win out in a deep Mountain West, would the College Football Playoff committee rank them higher than a one-loss Bulls or Knights team? It's a pretty far-fetched hypothetical,
mainly because we don't see both UCF and USF losing a game.
Outlook: Ripening

Toledo (6-1)
This week: defeated Akron 48-21
Next week: at Ball State (Thursday)
Poor Toledo. Because the MAC appears so feeble this season, the Rockets could win out and still not make a dent in the CFP rankings (Last week they didn't receive a single vote in the AP poll). Had they upset Miami in south Florida in September, maybe the Rockets would be a serious player in this discussion. But no quality wins remain on their schedule. Not their fault.
Outlook: Bruised

Houston (4-3)
This week: lost to Memphis 42-38
Next week: at USF
Forget the Peach, the Cougars will be fortunate to make the Cure Bowl at this point. They might still be a force in the American Athletic Conference's West Division if their defense knew how to finish, but they've allowed 80 second-half points over their last two contests. This is a team at a crossroads as it prepares for USF.
Outlook: The pits

Marshall (6-1)
This week: defeated Middle Tennessee 38-10
Next week: vs. FIU
The Thundering Herd, behind junior QB (and Wharton High alumnus) Chase Litton, have won five in a row since their 37-20 loss to N.C. State. Again, chaos would have to occur in a couple of other conferences for Marshall to enter the New Year's Six conversation, but as long as it keeps winning we're keeping the Herd on this list.
Outlook: Bruised

Memphis (6-1)
This week: defeated Houston 42-38
Next week: vs. Tulane
Since being embarrassed by UCF, the Tigers have won three in a row, including triumphs against Navy and Houston in a six-day span. Tulane, Tulsa, SMU and East Carolina remain on Memphis' schedule, putting it squarely in the West Division driver's seat. If the Tigers can win out, then topple UCF or USF in the league title game, they could -- could -- find themselves as the highest-ranked Group of Five champ.
Outlook: Ripening

Navy (5-2)
This week: lost to UCF 31-21
Next week: Bye
The  Midshipmen have totaled eight turnovers -- a season's worth in a typical Midshipmen year -- in their losses to Memphis and UCF, nearly bumbling themselves right out of the West Division race. Technically, Navy still has a New Year's Six shot (Notre Dame, Houston and Army remain on the slate). Realistically, the Midshipmen are looking at the Military Bowl. 
Outlook: The pits

San Diego State (6-2)
This week: lost to Fresno State 27-3
Next week: at Hawaii
Only eight days ago, the Aztecs appeared destined to emerge as the top-ranked Group of Five team in the initial CFP rankings. Today, they're a longshot to even win the West Division of the Mountain West Conference. Consecutive losses to Boise State and Fresno State have, for all practical intents, dashed SDSU's New Year's Six aspirations. In Saturday's embarrassing home loss to Fresno, the Aztecs crossed midfield only three times on their final nine possessions.
Outlook: The pits

UCF (6-0)
This week: defeated Navy 31-21
Next week: vs. Austin Peay
By dispatching of Navy, the Knights cleared their last serious hurdle before their Black Friday showdown with USF. Like the Bulls, the Knights learned Saturday they can prevail in a tight game. But it appears their next potentially tight one won't arrive until that ballyhooed regular season finale. UCF's upcoming four foes: Division I-AA Austin Peay, SMU, UConn and Temple.
Outlook: Peachy

USF (7-0)
This week: defeated Tulane 34-28
Next week: vs. Houston
Despite their woeful fourth quarter Saturday night in New Orleans, the Bulls' New Year's Six outlook appears brighter today. San Diego State (56 points in last week's AP poll) no longer is a threat to leapfrog the Bulls in the CFP rankings, nor is Navy. The Peach is USF's for the plucking if it keeps winning.
Outlook: Peachy

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