The final College Football Playoff rankings are set to be released on Sunday and while there is brewing chaos with who the committee will select to go to the playoff, there is also potential controversy surrounding which Group of Five team will be selected for a New Year’s Six bowl.
The highest ranked G5 conference champion gets the bid and No. 22 Tulane squandered its chance by falling to SMU in the AAC Championship Game. That means the race for the NY6 will come down to either SMU or No. 24 Liberty, who knocked off New Mexico State on Friday in the Conference USA Championship Game.
Liberty was dominant in its first season in Conference USA and was able to cap a perfect 13-0 season with its victory over NMSU. Considering that the Flames are already ranked, one would think they’d be a shoo-in to get the bid. But that’s before you account for the fact that they had the weakest schedule in the country per ESPN’s power index. Liberty didn’t play a single Power Five opponent this season and ran through a league where over half the teams finished with at least eight losses.
SMU finished the 2023 season with an 11-2 record where its lone losses were to Oklahoma and rival TCU. The team managed to win the AAC, which has claimed seven of nine G5 NY6 bids since the format was introduced in 2014. The Mustangs weren’t ranked in any of the CFP rankings before this week, but will certainly be ranked on Sunday.
So that’s what it comes down to. Will the committee give the nod to a team that ran the table? Or will that team be leapfrogged by a program that won 11 games in a tougher conference? We’ll find out Sunday afternoon.