The College Football Playoff will be expanding in the 2024/25 season, which could benefit the Group of Five conferences.
It should also give the smaller schools a chance to compete with the big dogs.
We’ve seen it happen time and time again, but there really isn’t that much separating the competition in Power Five conferences and the less prestigious Group of Five.
With that being said, we’re here to highlight this season’s Group of Five teams to watch in college football who could make surprise postseason appearances.
The “big brands” of the American Athletic Conference would probably be Cincinnati, Houston and UCF. After all, those three are now playing in the Big 12 starting this season.
Yet it was the Tulane Green Wave that were crowned AAC champs in 2022, and they look to be in excellent shape to do the same for another season.
Though they lost some key pieces to the NFL Draft and graduation this offseason, they return with quarterback Michael Pratt.
He’s an experienced veteran with over 5,000 passing yards in his career and established a career-best 161.8 passing efficiency rating last campaign.
Head coach Willie Fritz and the Green Wave should once again be one of the top Group of Five teams in the country, and they are +5000 to make the College Football Playoff.
A lot of the conference realignment talk has been about the Power Five, and rightfully so. But the UTSA Roadrunners also made a switch this past year to the AAC.
They had previously been a Conference USA member where they won the title last season, and they should be able to cause their new conference foes problems immediately.
Quarterback Frank Harris has been a revelation for this program, posting a 23-5 record as starting signal caller the last two seasons. He returns to lead the Roadrunners in their new conference.
They even return starters elsewhere too for a total of 16 on either side of the ball. A conference championship and maybe even New Year’s Six Bowl appearance is certainly possible in their inaugural AAC season.
College football fans have grown accustomed to watching the Boise State Broncos be arguably the best Group of Five program over the last 15 to 20 years.
This season is likely to be no different, as they should once again have one of the top defenses in the Mountain West Conference. How far they can go will truly be up to how far their offense can take them.
They return quarterback Talen Green but he needs to be much more consistent in order for Boise State to reach their potential.
Fortunately, he did show some flashes of greatness last season.
The Broncos are the betting favorites to win the MWC for a reason, and if their reputation has proven anything over the past decade plus, it’s that they’re always a force to be reckoned with year in and year out.
After finishing last campaign on an 11 game win streak and 12-2 overall, there’s surely reason for the Troy Trojans to be optimistic this year.
They should again possess one of the best defenses in the Sun Belt Conference after some transfer additions, and they also welcomed in some transfers on the offensive side of the ball too.
Like Boise State before, their biggest question mark will be at quarterback. Gunnar Watson has been in a lot of games in a Trojan uniform, but he hasn’t been able to replicate the success he had back during the 2020 season.
If Troy can just get average play from their signal caller this season, that win streak might not be getting snapped anytime soon.
Finally, a sleeper Group of Five team that could make some noise in the AP Top 25 rankings eventually is the Toledo Rockets.
They finished last season at just 9-5 but return a boatload of talent on both sides of the ball including quarterback DeQuan Finn, who may be the most explosive playmaker in the Mid American Conference.
Not only are the returning starters going to help Toledo this season, but the fact is that they’re just such a talented team that the MAC might just get run through by them this campaign.
If they can run the table in conference play and secure a MAC Championship, they’re certainly going to be in the discussion for a NY6 bowl.