Who will be this year's UCF? If anyone knew that, they'd bet the farm in Week 1 and let it ride to early retirement.
The question is also implying that there will be another UCF this season. For what's it worth, the ESPN Power Index gives only three teams at least a 10 percent chance of winning out, none of whom are in the Group of Five. In fact, the G5 team with the best chance of winning out is Boise State at 2.5 percent. Ten G5 teams have at least a 0.1 percent chance of winning out, but Boise State and Memphis (2.4 percent) are the only ones at or above 1 percent.
If either or both of those teams — or another G5 team — go undefeated, there will be heated playoff argument. Do Boise State and Memphis have a strong enough schedule to make their case more valid? What about other G5 teams?
Last year, UCF was ranked 64th in the HERO Sports Preseason Top 100. Let's loosen the belt a little and ask, which G5 teams inside the top 75 of this year's Preseason Top 100 has a strong enough schedule to have a legitimate playoff argument?
And by legitimate playoff argument, I mean something much stronger than UCF's argument last year. The Knights had no business being in or anywhere near the playoff.
No. 58 Army
While the Black Knights have two Power Five away games (at Duke, at Oklahoma), they play two FCS teams at home (Lafayette, Colgate).
No. 59 USF
The Bulls have zero opportunities to really impress the committee. Beating Georgia Tech at home might be nice if the Yellow Jackets have a great season, but their other non-conference games are vs. Elon and Illinois, both at home.
No. 62 App State
Top 100 CFB Towns: No. 16 Boone, N.C.
With all due respect to the Sun Belt, it's not happening this year.
Winning at Penn State in Week 1 would turn some heads, and Arkansas State will be good, but there aren't enough mid-level games to get App State anywhere near playoff consideration.
No. 66 Ohio
There's a lot to love about the Bobcats' two-deep, and there's an opportunity for a Power Five road win (at Virginia), but Ohio has too many games vs. low-level opponents.
No. 71 Troy
#FunBelt, not #PlayoffBelt
No. 74 UAB
Even with a trip to Texas A&M in the second-to-last game of the regular season, UAB has too many weak opponents (e.g. Savannah State, Coastal Carolina, UTEP) to make a case.
No. 42 Memphis
Memphis' non-conference is crap: vs. Mercer, vs. Georgia State, vs. South Alabama, at Missouri. Their most difficult conference road games are against Navy and SMU.
No. 53 Temple
Temple has two Power Five road games, but trips to Maryland and Boston College aren't enough to make up for games vs. Villanova, Tulsa, East Carolina and UConn.
No. 63 North Texas
Unless Chad Morris engineers a remarkable one-year turnaround at Arkansas, a win over the Razorbacks in September won't be enough to throw North Texas into the playoff conversation.
No. 15 Boise State
Boise State plays two non-conference road games (Troy, Oklahoma State) and gets San Diego State and Fresno State in conference play. They'd need one of those teams to enter the Mountain West Championship with one loss.
No. 26 UCF
UCF isn't getting much preseason love for a team that went 13-0 last year, but thanks to last year, they're at least on the committee's radar. Their non-conference slate isn't great but there's enough to chew on (at North Carolina, vs. Pittsburgh, vs. FAU), and they play Memphis and Navy in conference play.
The Knights have a better chance than last year, though that's saying little because they had no chance last year.
No. 30 Florida Atlantic
The preseason hype is there. The firepower is there (at Oklahoma in Week 1). The conference schedule, however, is mediocre and will make things tough on the Owls even if they beat Oklahoma.
They must throttle a couple of the mid-level teams (e.g. UCF, Marshall, North Texas) and demolish everyone else.
No. 35 Fresno State
While trips to Minnesota and UCLA aren't huge, they are road Power Five games that Fresno State voluntarily scheduled, something the committee likes. They get Boise State (on the road, too) and host San Diego State, but games like New Mexico, Hawai'i and San Jose State are worrisome.
No. 52 Navy
Kudos to Navy for traveling a billion miles to Hawai'i for the opener (and then hosting Memphis a week later) but if the Warriors are as bad as expected, that trip won't mean anything.
In addition to the Memphis game, Navy hosts Notre Dame, and visits UCF and an improved Tulane program.
No. 56 Houston
The good: Two Power Five games (vs. Arizona, at Texas Tech) and a trip to Memphis.
The bad: Rice, Texas Southern, Tulsa, East Carolina.
The bad will outweigh the good.
No. 68 Marshall
Marshall misses North Texas in conference play but gets FAU and has a strong non-conference schedule with road games vs. Miami (OH) and South Carolina and a home game vs. NC State. One of those Power Five games needs to be an emphatic multi-score victory.
No. 70 Wyoming
Wyoming and Boise State (and Fresno State) have similar schedules, and while the Cowboys' trip to Missouri isn't as meaty as the Broncos' trip to Oklahoma State, they have a second Power Five game (vs. Washington State).
No. 40 San Diego State
San Diego State beat Stanford at home last year. If they do it again — on the road — this year, wallop Arizona State (at home) and beat Boise State and Fresno State on the road, the Aztecs will have a strong argument for inclusion in the four-team field.
No. 72 Louisiana Tech
After a weak start (at South Alabama, vs. Southern), things pick up quickly for Louisiana Tech. They have consecutive games vs. LSU (away), North Texas (away) and UAB (home), and visit both FAU and Mississippi State later in the season.