College Football Playoff Rankings: Will San Diego State Move Up Again Ahead Of The Regular Season’s Final Week?
The Aztecs are one win away from the Mountain West title game, but where do they fit in this week’s College Football Playoff rankings?
The path to greatness is narrow, but you never know.
The San Diego State Aztecs navigated a tough road test against UNLV on Friday night to hold onto first place in the West division race and put themselves one step closer to a berth in the Mountain West football championship game.
With Utah State’s loss to Wyoming on Saturday, though, it seems most likely that the Aztecs stand alone with long odds to land the Group of 5’s New Year’s Six bowl berth. Here’s how San Diego State stacks up ahead of the College Football Playoff’s fourth top 25 reveal on Tuesday:
#19 San Diego State Aztecs (10-1)
What’s new for the Aztecs? San Diego State’s victory over the UNLV Rebels marked the sixth time that the Aztecs have won a game by one score, so while they may not score many style points outside of their sensational defense, the weekend’s results now mean that their best wins are that much better: Utah beat the brakes off of Oregon on Saturday night, while Air Force outlasted Nevada in a triple-overtime epic to improve to 8-3.
All that’s left is to get past Boise State at home on Friday morning and then, should they do so, wait and see which Mountain division team they’ll host for the conference championship.
What does the broader landscape look like at this point?
By Way of Comparison: The Rest of the G5 Field
#5 Cincinnati (11-0): SP+ rank: 7 | Sagarin rank: 8 | Strength-of-schedule rank (per Sagarin/Sports Reference): 94/86
#14 BYU (9-2): SP+ rank: 42 | Sagarin rank: 27 | Strength-of-schedule rank (per Sagarin/Sports Reference): 67/61
#22 UTSA (11-0): SP+ rank: 49 | Sagarin rank: 46 | Strength-of-schedule rank (per Sagarin/Sports Reference): 130/124
#24 Houston (10-1): SP+ rank: 38 | Sagarin rank: 37 | Strength-of-schedule rank (per Sagarin/Sports Reference): 110/116
Louisiana (10-1): SP+ rank: 55 | Sagarin rank: 42 | Strength-of-schedule rank (per Sagarin/Sports Reference): 115/127
What are the big takeaways here?
Cincinnati passed its most recent test with flying colors by exposing SMU as a paper tiger (paper horse?), while Louisiana pasted a decent Liberty squad and Houston dispatched middling Memphis with ease. BYU, meanwhile, probably won’t win any points with its expected big win against Georgia Southern, while UTSA needed to rally in order to beat UAB and clinch the Conference USA West division title.
It doesn’t seem likely that last week’s pecking order will change, which is to say that Houston and UTSA probably won’t leapfrog San Diego State in the overall rankings. The Bearcats might finally break into the top four, though, as Utah’s big win over Oregon stands to benefit Cincinnati and San Diego State in different ways.
All of that being said, the only thing standing between San Diego State’s slim New Year’s Six hopes and the more likely bowl trip to Inglewood is East Carolina. The 7-4 Pirates host the Bearcats on Friday afternoon and, according to Circa Sports, opened as a two-touchdown underdog. It’s worth noting, though, that ECU has played tough all season long — three of their four losses were by seven or fewer points — so if Cincinnati didn’t actually rediscover its full stride against SMU, they could mess around and finally slip up.
So what do I think the fourth CFP top 25 will look like? Read on.