Group of Five season preview for the 2021 college football season, including predictions for the conference championship games and playoff threats.
While there soon may be no discernible differences between conference statuses in college football, we still live in a world of Power Five and Group of Five conferences.
Though the latter quintet of conferences has never sent a team into the College Football Playoff, it has been abundantly clear that the best teams of the mid-majors can hang with the big boys. Last year’s “winner,” the Cincinnati Bearcats, look to be a very strong team out of the AAC once again this season. With a No. 8 overall ranking to start, will anybody be able to challenge the Bearcats?
Here is FanSided‘s official preview of the Group of Five conferences for the 2021 college season.
Group of Five conference championship game predictions
AAC: Cincinnati Bearcats over UCF Knights
Once again, the American projects as the best conference in the Group of Five. While the AAC has done away with divisions, for the time being, we should expect around three or four teams pushing for a top 25 ranking throughout the season. For now, you would be foolish to go with anyone besides Luke Fickell’s Bearcats. However, Gus Malzahn now leading UCF makes things interesting.
Conference USA: UAB Blazers over Marshall Thundering Herd
Though no conference has been more forgettable during the College Football Playoff era than Conference USA, we have another outstanding coach on our hands in Bill Clark at UAB. While the Marshall Thundering Herd should not skip a beat with Charles Huff taking over the program, it would not be shocking to see the Blazers push for top 25 inclusion as a New Year’s Six dark horse.
MAC: Ball State Cardinals over Kent State Golden Flashes
The Ball State Cardinals were no joke in the MAC last year. Lance Liepold may have gotten a ton of credit, and rightfully so, at Buffalo, but Mike Neu’s Cardinals return just about everybody. While typical contender Ohio will regroup with long-time head coach Frank Solich retiring, Sean Lewis’ Kent State Golden Flashes will take advantage of the opportunity to meet Ball State in Detroit.
Mountain West: Boise State Broncos over San Jose State Spartans
This looks to be a strong year over in the Mountain West, as a few teams can win this conference championship. The San Jose State Spartans took advantage last year to win an improbable conference title. While we could expect the Spartans to win the West again, the Boise State Broncos will not be down for long. One of their own in Andy Avalos now leads them going forward.
Sun Belt: Coastal Carolina Chanticleers over Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns
Without question, the most fascinating conference race in the Group of Five is going on in the Sun Belt. The two other top 25 teams to start the year are projected to meet each other in the conference title bout in the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers and the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns. Look for this conference championship to be an all-time classic, but with Jamey Chadwell’s team winning it.
With the conference championship games projected, who are the best teams in the Group of Five?