Only 12 more days until Christmas Flames Nation and maybe Tuesday the College Football Playoff Committee will have an early Christmas present for the 9-1 Flames. I’ve been watching cold snowy matchups all weekend and it’s put me in the Christmas mood so I’m going to spice up my article this week with some holiday themes.
Liberty got two things off its wish list this weekend as #21 Colorado and #25 Missouri lost and will be out of the rankings on Tuesday. Of the two losses, the Missouri 14-49 thrashing vs Georgia warmed many an LU fan’s heart with cheer as the Tigers (who unexplainably entered the rankings ahead of the Flames last Tuesday) got some sweet Yuletide justice.
Another notable loss was Wake Forest who I had noted had the potential to jump the Flames given the behavior of the Committee so far. However, the Demon Deacons were dealt a sound defeat at the hands of the Louisville Cardinals and won’t be challenging the Flames for Top 25 dominance anytime soon.
Unfortunately, it’s going to take LU Santa longer to check the naughty list than the nice list this week as several teams decided not to play nice with the Liberty Flames. #13 Coastal Carolina pulled off a last-minute victory against 5-6 Troy preventing what would have certainly been a dramatic fall out of the rankings if they had lost (Coastal won 42-38). #15 USC pulled of their 3rd fourth-quarter comeback of the season to survive 3-3 UCLA and stay in the rankings (USC won 43-38). #16 Iowa put up 15 points in the third quarter to turn their 0-6 halftime lead into an eventual 28-7 victory over 2-3 Wisconsin. #17 UNC brought no tidings of good joy to Miami as the Tar Heels destroyed the Hurricanes 62-26. If Miami had pulled off the win, they would have likely knocked the 3 loss Tar Heels out of the rankings. Finally, #18 BYU finished off the disappointing weekend by overcoming a 7-14 first-quarter deficit against San Diego State to come away with a 28-14 win against the Aztecs.
LUMPS OF COAL
There are two spots available in the rankings this week, but Liberty isn’t the only team jockeying for position just outside of the Top 25. The following 3 teams are trying to ruin Liberty’s high-flying dreams and may just jump into the rankings ahead of LU:
1. San Jose State 6-0 MWC, Beat Nevada 30-20
The Spartans probably have the best chance of getting into the Top 25 ahead of the Flames as they are undefeated and play in one of the top Group of 5 conferences. SJSU clinched a spot in the Mountain West Championship game with their win against the Wolfpack.
2. Buffalo 5-0 MAC, Beat Akron 56-7
The Mid American Conference is perfectly named as it isn’t quite as weak as the Sun Belt or Conference USA but it certainly isn’t at the same level as the Mountain West or American Athletic. Buffalo’s strength of schedule is very weak and doesn’t include any non-conference opponents, however, Buffalo has absolutely dominated in all of their matchups this year and is averaging over 50 points a game. Style points count and Buffalo might be attractive enough to the Committee to overcome its subpar schedule.
3. Army 8-2 Independent, Beat Navy 15-0
Army is having another impressive year and managed to get to 8-2 this weekend with a win in one of the most historic rivalry games in the country. Army has a recent loss to Tulane, 3 FCS wins and has struggled to win games against lesser opponents so they shouldn’t challenge the Flames this week but then again I didn’t think Missouri would get in last week.
WHAT DOES SANTA HAVE IN HIS SLEIGH?
5-6 teams almost saw their spots in the Top 25 disappear but unfortunately, only two spots are going to be available for new teams come Tuesday. Liberty should be a shoo-in with the incredible season they have had and their 9-1 record but the Committee has been unpredictable and perplexing this season and Liberty is not guaranteed anything at this point. The one thing that works out in Liberty’s favor is that there shouldn’t be any surprise Power 5 teams that LU has to compete with. Liberty’s competition is almost certainly only Group of 5 teams. Liberty has more Power 5 wins than any other G5 team in the country and certainly more than the 3 teams listed in this article who haven’t played any.
Of the three I listed, I think SJSU will be in Tuesday but Army and Buffalo will remain unranked at least for this week. Army has too many close wins against weak competition (they only beat the Citadel 14-9) and Buffalo’s victories are stylish but their strength of schedule is very weak as Buffalo’s opponents are a combined 6-18 this year. Liberty’s strength of schedule has also been called into question this year (LU’s opponents are 22-58) but the Flames do hold a win over VT which is better than anything Buffalo can claim despite their spotless record. I think that the Flames were just good enough this week to get onto Santa’s nice list and the Flames will get into the CFP rankings for the first time in School History.
RANKINGS PREDICTION: LIBERTY CRACKS THE RANKINGS AT #24
Written by Mr. Exclamation Point.