Think back to some of the greatest G5 seasons in recent memory. An undefeated Utah beating Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, an undefeated Boise State defeating an undefeated TCU in the Fiesta Bowl, an undefeated Boise State beating Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl, an 11-1 Central Florida blowing out Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl, and Houston beating Florida State in the Peach Bowl are some of the best examples.
What did the majority of those teams have in common? An undefeated G5 team that caught the attention of the nation in showing the G5 could play with the biggest of the big boys. UCF and Houston are part of the list, but their seasons are somewhat diminished by mid-season losses.
This season, we could see something unthinkable. There is a solid to strong possibility of six G5 programs heading into the final weekend of the regular season sporting 11-0 records. Mountain West programs Air Force, Boise State, and San Diego State are in great positions to be undefeated. MAC programs Toledo and Western Michigan will likely sport 11-0 marks. Finally, G5 darling Houston can round out this group if they are able to overcome a highly ranked Louisville squad.
The final weekend (AFA/Boise, Toledo/WMU) and conference title games will knock many from the list, but we could see as many as three G5 teams heading into the bowl season undefeated. Just think for a moment just how incredible of an accomplishment that would be in earning respect from the nation.
Let’s take a look at the six programs and their chances of going undefeated.
The Broncos are sitting at 3-0 with wins over Louisiana Lafayette, Washington State, and Oregon State. They sport the #20 ranked passing offense in the nation led by sophomore star quarterback Brett Rypien. Their only close call early in the season was a 31-28 win over Washington State in which they tried nearly everything possible to give the game away, but still pulled out the victory.
The Broncos have a fair schedule with a couple of red flags that include a trip to New Mexico and a visit from BYU. Boise State is the better team in both games, but struggled versus the Lobos run game and could not put away BYU in falling on a ridiculous ending last fall. The likelihood of Boise State getting to the season finale at Air Force is very high. Chance of going undefeated: 45%.
With over 30 seniors on the roster, the Falcons feel that this is their year. They passed the first real challenge of the season in defeating Utah State 27-20 on the road. Otherwise, they have not been truly tested in defeating Abilene Christian and Georgia State by a combined 85-35. Nate Romine leads an impressive rushing attack that can throw as many as eight different players out on any play.
The Falcons have a tricky schedule heading up to the season finale versus Boise State. They have to host Navy on Saturday and visit Army in early November. Air Force is the best of the three teams this season, but the battle for the Commander-in-Chief Trophy can take wild turns. If Air Force can get by the two fellow service academies, they have a real shot at 11-0 heading into the Boise State matchup. Chance of going undefeated: 35%.
San Diego State:
The Aztecs ended last season as arguably the best G5 team not named Houston. The problem for them was a poor start that included a stunning loss to South Alabama. FBS leading rusher Donnel Pumphrey has been outstanding, leading the nation in rushing and rushing yards per game. Adding in a great defense, the Aztecs could easily break into the top 12 nationally if they run the table.
SDSU may have the easiest schedule from here on out as South Alabama has struggled since week one, much of their MWC division is laughably bad (I see you Hawaii), and only two teams have any real shot at an upset. If the Aztecs get by road trips to Utah State and Nevada, they will be 12-0 and facing a possibly undefeated Boise State/Air Force winner in the MWC title game. Chance of going undefeated: 55%.
Of all the teams on this list, the Rockets have been the most under the radar program. They don’t hold a win over a P5 team like Boise State, San Diego State, Western Michigan, or Houston. They haven’t been tested in beating Arkansas State, Maine, and Fresno State by a combined 128-30. At the same time, that is a one-win Fresno State, an 0-4 Arkansas State squad, and an FCS program in Maine. We really know nothing about the Rockets.
That is until Saturday. Toledo makes a tough trip to BYU in a game that could get them some national notoriety. It does hurt that the Cougars are a disappointing 1-3, but the three losses are to solid P5 programs. Outside of BYU, the Rockets still have to navigate a visit from CMU, a trip to Akron, and exercise some demons versus Northern Illinois. That route to 11-0 is not easy, but Toledo has the team to make it happen. Chance of going undefeated: 65%.
With stars all over the field led by wide receiver Corey Davis, a case can be made that WMU is the most talented offensive G5 team in the nation. They have a solid to impressive resume with two Big Ten scalps, a win over an FCS opponent, and a revenge blowout win over Georgia Southern. It seems that everything is finally falling into place for the Broncos under head coach PJ Fleck.
With that said, the Broncos have a rivalry game versus a very good Central Michigan coming up next. The Chippewas would love nothing more than to ruin the perfect record of WMU and send and hopes of an NY6 invite down the drain. That is the swing game for WMU. They match up well in the rest of their MAC schedule, but Ball State is tricky game to start November. Chance of going undefeated: 35%.
What a difference a month makes. A month ago, everyone was saying that if the Cougars defeated Oklahoma, they would have a cake walk to an undefeated record. That was before Louisville snuck into the party and started ruining things for everyone. Led by star quarterback Greg Ward Jr., the Cougars will be heavy favorites in every game except Louisville.
The AAC schedule is a big tougher than anticipated with landmine games like Navy, Tulsa, and Memphis on down the line. First, Houston gets a chance at revenge after Connecticut pulled off the stunning upset last fall. Chance of going undefeated: 55%.
- Memphis: The Tigers are not ready for the big time just yet. They are looking good with a new coaching staff, but have Ole Miss, Navy, Cincinnati, and Houston left on the schedule. Chance of going undefeated: 6%
- Navy: The Midshipmen are a big underdog versus Air Force and still have to play Houston, Memphis, South Florida, Notre Dame, Tulsa, and a much improved Army. I cannot see any way they run the table on that schedule. Chance of going undefeated: 3%.