Are There Any Non-Power 5 Playoff Contenders?

As a college football fan, we know, and care, about the Power 5 conferences.  Those are the biggest and best schools in the country within Division 1.

This photo includes Notre Dame, but not the other Independent schools. As you'll see later, I don't considered Notre Dame as a Power 5 school.
This photo includes Notre Dame, but not the other Independent schools. As you’ll see later, I don’t considered Notre Dame as a Power 5 school.

This is a perfect map of the teams I care about.  I care about the Power 5 schools and the top 25, which has included non-Power 5 schools before.

The playoff contenders this season mostly come from the Power 5, but there has to be a school or two that could make it’s way in, right?

Here, we’re gonna try to find that school that could be contending in December for a playoff spot.  It’s unlikely, but has happened before.  Remember when Boise State was really, really good a couple years ago, and won the Fiesta Bowl versus Oklahoma (They did it last year too, but I like to forget that game because of their opponent)?  Yeah, who saw that coming….

I’ve picked out a couple teams who could contend for the Playoff, who aren’t in a Power 5 conference.  The first team is an independent.

Notre Dame

Unlike the BCS, Notre Dame doesn’t have requirements to meet to make it.  It’s simple, and is recapped here.  Just be good enough.

And honestly, it shouldn’t matter whether they’re in a conference or not.  Discriminating against them would be like not allowing two teams from the same conference into the playoff.  Again, just be good enough.

So can the Fighting Irish be good enough?

I’m not as high on Notre Dame.  Everyone has this team at 11 wins or so, which would leave them with a one-loss season.  There’s some really good teams on their schedule!  I believe Stanford, which they cap the season off with, could win the Pac-12.  Georgia Tech is the Irish’s 3rd opponent, in what will be a great offense-defense matchup.  The Irish’s defense will be better this year, after last year’s 71st overall ranking.  Their d-line is small, but the linebacking core is one of the better ones in the country.

On offense, they have play-making quarterback Malik Zaire, who was great in last year’s Music City Bowl (or as I called it, the All-Dissapointment Bowl).  In that wild, crazy game, Zaire was 12/15 passing with 96 yards, but had another 96 yards with his feet.

We haven’t seen much of Zaire, but he’s got a lot of hype around him.  This is his 3rd year, so he’s sat and learned for awhile.  Hopefully that can pay off.  New guys that come in can take awhile, especially when there are big expectations, and with Notre Dame, those aren’t anything new.

There’s not gonna be a lot of people that agree with me, but I believe Notre Dame doesn’t have what it takes to live up to the expectations.  I see three losses on their schedule.  However, nothing like what happened last year will take place.  That four game losing streak was so unpredictable, and by the time the USC game came around, they had given up.

Again, nothing like that will happen to the Irish again.  But I don’t think we’ll see Notre Dame in the playoff this season.

Boise State

Alright, there is issues with this team, and I don’t have a lot of happy thoughts towards this team after what they did to my Wildcats to end last season, but they could be really, really good.

I look at their schedule, and it’s possible they could go undefeated.  That probably won’t happen, as they open the season with tough games against Washington and BYU.  That could be an 0-2 start right there.

But there’s a lot that will go right for the Broncos.  They were the 13th best offense in the country last year, like, this team was good!  And it seems like they just haven’t gotten enough attention even with winning the Fiesta Bowl.  No one’s talking about them!

There are some bigger concerns this year.  The offense will regress with some-what new quarterback Ryan Finley taking over.  This isn’t the guy who took them to the Fiesta Bowl, so there will be some turnover.  The Broncos do have a great offensive line, and they’re huge, averaging 294.2 pounds between their lineman.  Have fun, opposing defenses.

I think the Broncos have some defensive holes, but they’ll be good enough to cover them up.  The line, like the offense, is stacked.  Elsewhere, there’s issues, but again, they’ll be able to hide them.

The Broncos probably aren’t going to the Playoff, and neither is Notre Dame.  But I won’t be shocked if one of these teams is in it late in the year.