Our final Group of Five Power Poll of 2022 features a new team on the list and a new team in the top five from last week. There are five teams this week that also debuted during our first poll in Week 0. There are two teams that landed in the top five in both.
1. Tulane, last week: 2
Three weeks ago I wrote about Mardi Gras arriving a little early for Tulane. The Green Wave earned its first CFP ranking that week and a big question was what would transpire. They answered that with a statement win over Cincinnati to earn a berth in the AAC title game. Even if they fall to UCF this weekend, it’s been a season to remember for the Green Wave.
2. UCF, last week: 4
With the help of a couple of losses, Central Florida jumped up two spots in this week’s poll. The Knights defeated USF (1-11) by only a touchdown last week but still earned a spot in the American championship game even after their loss to Navy two weeks ago. Regardless of a couple of sub-standard performances down the stretch, the No. 22-ranked team in the country has a shot at a Cotton Bowl.
3. Cincinnati, last week: 1
From having their eyes set on another AAC crown to losing their head coach, the Bearcats’ regular season didn’t end how they would’ve liked. Still, they’re among the top G5 teams in the country and have a chance to play a quality opponent in a bowl game before heading off to bigger and better things.
4. James Madison, last week: 10
It’s a shame the Dukes aren’t playing for the Sun Belt title game because there are certainly less entertaining teams we’ll be watching during conference championship weekend:
JMU slaughtered Coastal Carolina last week to claim its reign at the top of the SBE, gained even more respect in its first year as an FBS school, and gave itself a little bit of momentum going into next season.
5. Troy, last week: 5
If it wasn’t for a Hail Mary touchdown from App State in Week 3, the Trojans would be 11-1 with their lone loss coming in Week 1 to Ole Miss. To be honest, it’s a little surprising Troy isn’t in the AP Top 25, but they’re in the top five here and I guess that’s what matters. The Trojans have a chance to win their seventh Sun Belt title this weekend against Coastal, and college football betting odds list them as 10.5-point favorites — the biggest favorite within the G5 championship games.
6. UTSA, last week: 6
The Roadrunners cracked the Top 25, landing at the No. 23 spot. They capped their regular season by going undefeated in conference play with a 34-31 win over UTEP. Now, UTSA hosts North Texas in the C-USA championship. The last time these teams played, the Roadrunners scored the go-ahead touchdown with 21 seconds to play.
7. South Alabama, last week: 8
The first-ever Sun Belt championship appearance for the Jaguars will have to wait, but history was still made for this program with a 10-win season. South Alabama should receive a good bowl bid, and their two losses — a 32-31 loss to UCLA and a 10-6 loss to Troy — might be just as convincing as their wins.
8. Boise State, last week: 7
Boise scored two touchdowns in the final 1:23 to inflate the score and stop any chance of a Utah State upset last week. Jake Haener and Fresno State won’t have the same late-game lapses that the Aggies could in Saturday’s MW championship.
9. Fresno State, last week: unranked
It’s been 12 weeks since the Bulldogs have been on this list, and that describes how their season has gone. The ups and downs have been correlated with Haener’s injury. Fresno will visit the blue turf as 3.5-point underdogs.
10. Coastal Carolina, last week: 3
A weak schedule for a 9-1 team showed last week as the Chanticleers were derailed by JMU. Lucky for CC, they still have a shot at an SB crown. Coastal’s final appearance on this poll lands it in the same spot as the Week 0 poll.
Dropped out: SMU