Can BYU or Cincinnati be the first non-Power 5 team to make the College Football Playoff?

  • College football reporter
  • Joined ESPN.com in 2007
  • Graduate of Indiana University

If only BYU and Cincinnati could settle this on the field.

Oh wait, they can — if they both wind up in a New Year’s Six bowl. The 13 members of the College Football Playoff selection committee will pair six teams in the “host bowl” games, based on their protocol, so No. 7 Cincinnati and No. 8 BYU could potentially face each other in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl, PlayStation Fiesta Bowl or Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl this year.

Or they could reach the College Football Playoff.

While it remains an unlikely scenario, if there ever was a year for a team outside the mighty Power 5 to crack the code to the top four, this could be it. The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on college football schedules from coast to coast, ultimately forcing the committee to compare teams with vastly different résumés. As it stands, Oregon and Wisconsin have played two games. BYU and Cincinnati have each already played at least seven.

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