Beginning Oct. 28, a 13-member selection committee will rank the top 25 teams in the country each week through Dec. 7, when four teams will be selected to participate in the first College Football Playoff. Teams from the Power 5 conferences (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC) have an advantage, but since the computers are gone and humans are now in control, there remains a chance — as ever-so-slight as it may be — that a non-Power 5 team can make the final four. FOX Sports South assembled a list of the most likely candidates.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (3-0)
Notre Dame has the best shot at the playoff of any team outside the Power 5, and not only because the Fighting Irish are already ranked in both the AP and coaches’ polls. Notre Dame has four games remaining against teams currently ranked, including an Oct. 18 bout at top-ranked Florida State. That's impressive scheduling for a non-Power 5 school. Making it through that gauntlet unscathed (or even with a loss to one of the ranked schools) could give the selection committee enough reason to add Notre Dame to the first playoff.
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BYU Cougars (4-0)
Even though BYU is currently ranked 20th in the AP, and 21st in the coaches’ poll, there may not be enough meat on its schedule to make a playoff push. The Cougars are a top 40 school on offense (37.5 points per game); own a top 25 defense (18.8 ppg) and quarterback Taysom Hill is one of the more incredible athletes to watch. That said, even a perfect record won't matter unless BYU ends up as the only undefeated team in the country. And that still might not be enough.
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Cincinnati Bearcats (2-0, 0-0 AAC)
The realistic answer to whether Cincinnati could possibly slide into a playoff spot is no. But what about realism is fun? There is a minuscule chance, and here's why: Gunner Kiel. For the Bearcats to be left standing on Dec. 7, Kiel has to continue his torrid pace throwing the football, and most likely step it up a notch. Cincinnati is also going to have to be perfect, and that means laying a big whooping on the two ranked opponents on its schedule: Ohio State (this Saturday) and East Carolina (Nov. 13).
East Carolina Pirates (3-1, 0-0 AAC)
East Carolina likely blew its shot at the playoff with its 33-23 loss at South Carolina. But the Pirates rebounded nicely on the road the next week against a ranked Virginia Tech, and they're currently ranked 23rd in the AP and 24th in the coaches' poll. While ECU might just be the best college football team in the state of North Carolina, and Shane Carden the top gunslinger, the American Athletic Conference slate isn't stout enough for the Pirates to gain any more ground.
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Boise State Broncos (3-1, 1-0 Mountain West)
The game on Boise State's schedule the selection committee is most likely going to focus on the most is its first; a 35-13 drubbing at the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at the hands of Ole Miss. The Broncos have another game on Oct. 24 against a ranked opponent in BYU, and running back Jay Ajayi is one of the more prominent rushers in the country. Those two spotlights will help, but Boise State's run as one of the best Non-Power 5 schools around, has come to a temporary end.
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Marshall Thundering Herd (4-0, 0-0 C-USA)
Marshall is stacked on both offense and defense, and the Thundering Herd own top 25 rankings in passing yards (310.8 per game), rushing yards (286 per game), points scored (45.5 per game) and scoring defense (16.2 per game). Rakeem Cato is lighting up scoreboards and being circled on stat sheets, but Marshall just doesn't have any résumé-building opportunities on its schedule. The road to the playoff isn't impossible, but let's just say Lloyd Christmas had better odds when he uttered "So you're telling me there's a chance."