Through five years, 67 different teams have appeared in the College Football Playoff Rankings. For those scoring at home, that means 63 active FBS teams have never cracked the top 25. Could that number decrease in 2019?
Most of those teams have no chance at their first-ever ranking in 2019 (sorry Rice, UTEP, Rutgers and Kansas, among many others). Some have a slim chance, while others have a very real chance, including three teams ranked inside the top 50 of the HERO Sports Preseason Rankings.
Preseason Rank: 23
Army falls under the "Really? They didn't make it last year?" umbrella.
Despite an 11-win season (nine wins before the final playoff rankings), overtime loss at Oklahoma and demolition of 10-win Buffalo, Army never cracked the top 25.
This year, if they can avoid a blowout loss at Michigan in Week 2 and run through the remainder of a weak regular-season schedule, the Black Knights could make their first-ever appearance. Undoubtedly, Army is a top-25 team. Their schedule, however, will be frowned upon by the committee, as it should be.
Preseason Rank: 42
By the time Purdue walloped Ohio State in Week 8 last season, they already had three losses, including a Week 2 home loss to Eastern Michigan. For what it's worth, the Boilermakers were 33rd in the AP top 25 after the Ohio State win. Back-to-back wins in the following weeks might've been enough to earn a playoff ranking. Instead, they lost to Michigan State (and beat Iowa).
Purdue doesn't have any auto-wins until, arguably, Illinois at home in Week 9. Depending on how those early tests shake out (e.g., TCU, Minnesota, Penn State), they could flirt with a ranking come November.
Preseason Rank: 43
The only ACC team who's never been ranked, Wake Forest could be in rankings contention if they beat Utah State at home in Week 1, take care of the must-win games that follow (Rice, North Carolina, Elon) and drop only one game before November.
In all likelihood, the Demon Deacons won't have any résumé wins, but they could be (and should be?) 8-1 entering the NC State game in Week 10.