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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

1 hour ago - Sports

The end of COVID’s grip on sports may be in sight

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Packed stadiums and a more normal fan experience could return by late 2021, NIAID director Anthony Fauci said yesterday.

Why it matters: If Fauci's prediction comes true, it could save countless programs from going extinct next year.

Trump's 2024 begins

Trump speaking to reporters in the White House on Thanksgiving. Photo: Erin Schaff - Pool/Getty Images

President Trump is likely to announce he'll run again in 2024, perhaps before this term even ends, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: Trump has already set in motion two important strategies to stay relevant and freeze out other Republican rivals. 

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
2 hours ago - Health

Nursing homes are still getting pummeled by the pandemic

Data: AHCA/NCAL, The COVID Tracking Project; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

The U.S. has gotten no better at keeping the coronavirus out of nursing homes.

Why it matters: The number of nursing home cases has consistently tracked closely with the number of cases in the broader community — and that's very bad news as overall cases continue to skyrocket.