Navy loses grasp on CFP Group of 5 race

The Cougars made a case to be the top Group of 5 team in the playoff committee's rankings after soundly beating No. 15 Navy. Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports

The College Football Playoff selection committee no longer needs to worry about waiting for the results of the Army-Navy game to fill out its New Year’s Six bowl bids.

Instead, it has to figure out who should replace Navy as the highest-ranked team from the Group of 5 (American Athletic, Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West and Sun Belt).

Houston certainly made a strong case Friday in its 52-31 drubbing of the No. 15 Midshipmen, who for the past three weeks have held a steady place as the front-runner for a spot in either the Chick-fil-A Peach or Fiesta bowls. Navy’s loss, coupled with No. 24 Toledo’s loss to Western Michigan, knocked off the two highest-ranked Group of 5 teams in the committee’s latest Top 25. No. 25 Temple, the only other Group of 5 team ranked, clinches the AAC’s East Division with a win over UConn on Saturday.

Friday’s results could really shake up the Group of 5 picture in the committee’s rankings because Houston had dropped out of the Top 25 in the most recent poll after last week’s surprising 20-17 loss at UConn. The selection committee would consider, though, the fact that the Cougars lost their only game of the season when star quarterback Greg Ward Jr. was injured and Kyle Postma struggled to replace him.

Against Navy, Ward threw for three touchdowns and no interceptions, and added another rushing touchdown -- clearly demonstrating a stronger Houston offense when he is orchestrating it.

With Houston back in the mix, the conversation now turns to the winners of next week’s MAC championship game and the AAC title game.

Houston clinched the AAC’s West Division title and will host Temple or South Florida. In the MAC, Northern Illinois clinched the West division following Toledo’s loss to Western Michigan on Friday. NIU will face Bowling Green for the MAC championship.

If no Group of 5 champion is ranked in the selection committee's final Top 25, the committee will conduct an additional process to identify the top-ranked champion of those conference champions.