Through 4 seasons of the College Football Playoff, trends have started to emerge for teams wanting to be the G5 participant. The Big 4 teams – Boise State (2014), Houston (2015), Western Michigan (2016), and UCF (2017) – share a few traits that might help determine the 2018 NY6 participant.
Here are a few things that might need to happen to get UH into the NY6:
1. Go undefeated at home – This is pretty simple. Don’t lose at home! The Big 4 were a combined 28-0 at home in the year they went to the NY6. Only five of those home games were decided by 7 points or less – two of them were UH games in 2015 and two were UCF games in 2016.
2. Win a game on the road at a P5 – All of UH, WMU, and UCF won road games at P5 programs (Boise played 1 P5 in a neutral game and lost to Ole Miss). Houston beat Louisville on the road, WMU went to Northwestern and Illinois and won, and UCF beat Maryland (UCF’s game vs. Georgia Tech was cancelled due to Hurricane Irma).
*Boise’s lack of a P5 win is less notable because no other G5 team finished in the top 25 of the CFP rankings.
3. Score 40 ppg for the season – Each of the 4 teams has scored over 550 points in their magical NY6 seasons. Boise scored 42.8 ppg, UH scored 40.4, WMU scored 41.6, and UCF scored 48.2. Defensively, UH and WMU were the best giving up 20.7 and 19.8 ppg, respectively. UH scored 28.2 ppg last year.
4. Have a big-time rushing threat – Boise, UH, and WMU all had a rusher go over 1100 yards. Boise’s RB Jay Ajayi went for 1800 yards and 28 TDs while Greg Ward’s 1108/21 TDs is the best by a QB (by far). Each of the 4 programs had a rusher that scored at least 10 TDs.
5. Have an efficient QB All four teams had QBs that completed at least 67% of their passes and had a passer rating of 148 or better. UH’s Ward, WMU’s Terrell and UCF’s Killins were each 3:1 or better in TD:INT (Terrell threw 33 TDs against only 4 INT).
6. Keep your QB healthy – Only once in 54 total games has the starting QB of the G5 participant missed a start (Greg Ward – UConn). Stability at the most crucial spot on the field is vital.
7. Have a balanced attack with a dual threat QB – All of Boise, UH, and WMU had balanced attacks on offense. UCF’s play selection was balanced but their yardage was not. Boise State, the Coogs, and Western Michigan’s rushing and passing yards were within approximately 400 yards of each other. Only WMU QB Zach Terrell wouldn’t be considered a dual threat – but with 2 RBs combining for 2300 yards and 20 TDs, they didn’t really need it.
What does this tell us for UH in 2018?
If the precedents set by the previous 4 winners hold up, UH must sweep the home slate this year and beat Texas Tech on the road. UH can potentially slip up on the road in-conference once but must play for the AAC title. D’Eriq King needs to stay healthy and be a true duel threat. The UH running game needs a featured back that can carry the offense – or maybe even two (Mulbah Car and Terence Williams). Ideally, the Cougar defense gives up under 24 ppg.
The potential field for the G5 spot is deep this year with 2 Conference USA teams (FAU, UNT), 4 teams from the Mountain West (Boise State, Wyoming, Fresno State, San Diego State), Appalachian State from the Sun Belt, and 4 teams from the American (UH, Memphis, UCF, USF).
A few other notes
– 10 G5 teams have finished the season in the committee’s rankings. Boise State in the first year and 3 teams in each of the last 3 seasons. 7 of the 10 teams have come from the American Athletic Conference.
– UH is the only NY6 team selected from the G5 to beat two other teams ranked on Selection Day. In 2015, the Coogs beat Navy in the regular-season final and Temple in the AAC title game. Both were ranked on Selection Day. UCF beat Memphis in the 2017 AAC title game.
– UH also beat 2 teams in the final rankings in 2016 (#7 Oklahoma, #13 Louisville) but the Coogs were not part of the NY6 discussion.
– WMU won their conference title at neutral-site Ford Field. The other 3 NY6 participants hosted their conference’s title game.
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