Non-Power-5 teams that can make a bowl appearance
We’re five weeks into the season now and there are three undefeated teams from conferences outside the power five who have a chance to go undefeated the rest of the year and earn themselves a New Year’s Six Bowl appearance. Here’s what you need to know about each:
Powered by quarterback Paxton Lynch (+15.8), our second-highest graded QB in the country, the Tigers have picked up wins against Kansas, Bowling Green and Cincinnati this year. Defensively it’s fair to question them, with Missouri State the only team they’ve held under 17 points through five weeks, and two games where they have allowed over 40 points. That being said, Lynch is good enough to keep the offense rolling and bring in more wins.
He’s graded positively in every game so far this year, with the win over Bowling Green (+6.7) his best performance of the year. He has really impressed throwing downfield, completing 12 of 20 passes of 20 yards or more downfield he’s attempted, for 465 yards and three touchdowns.
Looking ahead on the schedule, they have two weeks to prepare for Ole Miss on October 17th, in what should be their toughest game of the year. Despite the loss to Florida, Ole Miss aren’t going to be pushovers for the Tigers, with a tough defense and some impressive playmakers on the outside. if they can get past the Rebels, they still need to navigate their way past currently undefeated Navy, Houston and Temple if they are to finish the year undefeated.
Given that Memphis and Temple play each other on November 21st, we know that we won’t be seeing both of them going undefeated, and it’s interested to see that while the Tigers have gotten this far without a loss on the back of their offense, Temple got here thanks to their tough defense. Despite quarterback P.J. Walker (-5.8) struggling they’ve picked up four wins, including holding Penn State and Cincinnati to a combined 36 points.
On the defensive line, defensive tackle Matt Ioannidis (+8.6) and defensive end Haason Reddick (+11.1) have stood out, both as pass rushers and against the run. Linebackers Tyler Matakevich (+7.4) and Nate Smith (+9.5) have both impressed against the run, with Matakevich currently tied for 10th amongst all linebackers with 24 tackles resulting in a defensive stop.
Along with the game against Memphis, Temple has the tough task of trying to take down a tough Notre Dame team on October 31st, but if they can find a way to get past both of them, they have a good chance at going undefeated.
A new entry (spoiler alert) in our college Top 25 this week, Toledo’s biggest wins this season have come against Arkansas and Iowa State. They too have struggled on offense, with quarterback Phillip Ely (-4.4) failing to impress and wide receiver Cody Thompson (+4.3) the only player at the position with a grade of +0.6 or higher.
They’ve looked good defensively though, especially up front where the defensive tackle pairing of Treyvon Hester (+11.2) and Orion Jones (+10.2) are forming a nice partnership in the middle of the line, combining for six sacks, a hit and 16 hurries so far this year.
Schedule wise they have the best chance to run the table with no top-25 teams left to play. That being said, they also have the least inspiring schedule of the three teams here, with neither Arkansas (2-3) and Iowa State (2-2) having a winning record at this point.