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The Case for App State

By Jim Johnson
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Should App State get the Group of Five New Year’s Six Bowl bid?

App State will almost certainly not receive the Group of Five New Year’s Six Bowl bid tomorrow from the CFP committee.

That is unfortunate because App State should almost certainly get the Group of Five New Year’s Six Bowl bid tomorrow from the CFP committee. They should at least get some more consideration.

Entering championship weekend as the fourth most highly ranked G5 team, per the committee, behind Memphis, Boise State, and Cincinnati, the AAC had seemingly already locked up that spot in the Cotton Bowl, with Boise State holding onto an outside shot. However, what is the case and what should be the case are two entirely different matters.

With the win over South Carolina in early November, which simultaneously earned the Mountaineers the title “King of the Carolinas”, they joined Hawaii and Temple as the only G5 teams with more than one win over a power conference team.

Now, in reality, there’s not much of a margin, if any at all, between the upper crust of the group of five and the middle to upper middle class of the power five, but judging by the committee’s treatment, er, mistreatment of UCF in recent years, they have yet to come to that realization.

So, by proxy, it stands to reason that these contenders’ respective P5 resumes would be of the utmost importance to the selectors.

From that perspective, App State clearly has the most impressive resume. Memphis’ lone game against a P5 foe was on opening weekend, when they beat an Ole Miss team that currently ranks #64 in OAYP, 15-10. Boise’s only P5 game was a come-from-behind 36-31 victory at Florida State, that same weekend, a team that finished the regular season #52 in OAYP. Cincinnati’s lone venture into P5 territory resulted in 42-0 shutout loss at the hands of Ohio State, which is at once both understandable because the Buckeyes are the best team in the country by far and embarrassing, nonetheless.

Meanwhile, the Sun Belt champs beat OAYP’s #36 team, the Tar Heels, and the #71 ranked Gamecocks. So, not only do they have the most P5 wins among the Cotton Bowl contenders, they also have the best P5 win among the Cotton Bowl contenders.

Even beyond that, from a sheer overall team strength point of view, App State’s OAYP score is markedly higher than Cincinnati’s, a decent bit above Boise State’s, and within striking distance of Memphis’. The margin between App State and Memphis is close enough, in fact, that it’s really a matter of subjectivity. Memphis has the best offense in the entire group of five, but App State can say the same thing about its defense.

It’s really a matter of perception -- offense catches the eye, but defense wins championships. Memphis has the stronger strength of opponent, but App State has dominated to a greater degree. Folks get caught up in who you played, when how you played has always been more indicative of legitimate efficacy.

The point is, though App State may not necessarily be the most deserving of the NY6 bid, they probably are. The fact that they likely won’t even get a fair shake is the true disappointment.

Jim Johnson - Editor of Southern Pigskin, Producer of "Three & Out", and host of "Explosive Recruiting" on the Southern Pigskin Radio Network. E-mail: Twitter: @JimJohnsonSP