Nov 20, 2020 - Sports

Coronavirus cancellations give the Group of 5 a chance to shine

Picture of three football players

Photo: Michael Hickey/Getty Images

The pandemic eliminated most Power 5 vs. Group of 5 games this season, costing the smaller Group of 5 schools millions of dollars in game contracts.

Yes, but: Conference-only play, postponed start dates and canceled games have given those schools a chance to climb up the polls and make a name for themselves nationally — an opportunity that a handful have seized.

Where it stands: The number of G5 teams in the final AP poll has increased in each of the past four seasons, from three in 2016 to seven in 2019.

  • The current poll has seven: No. 7 Cincinnati, No. 8 BYU, No. 15 Marshall, No. 15 Coastal Carolina, No. 21 Liberty, No. 24 Louisiana, No. 25 Tulsa.

This weekend is the biggest G5 slate of the year, with two undefeated teams facing their biggest tests of the season.

  • American: Cincinnati (7-0) has won its past four games by a 184-50 margin, but the Bearcats will be tested by UCF (5-2) and its No. 1 ranked offense (619.1 yards per game). A win would boost their College Football Playoff hopes.
  • Sun Belt: Coastal Carolina (7-0) hosts four-time defending conference champion Appalachian State (6-1), with the winner likely to face Louisiana (7-1) in the Sun Belt title game.

The backdrop ... To date, 78 college football games have been either canceled or postponed, including 16 this weekend (nine canceled, seven postponed).

Go deeper