-- Yesterday's bowl results
-- 11-win Troy, left off by accident
-- 9-win Stanford, who started the week at #13. At 9-5, I'm not sure they have a legit argument, but their pre-Bowl Week ranking puts them above the line in terms of the screening criteria laid out below.
My theory is that late wins count more. Teams in the Top 15 will most likely stay in the Top 25 regardless, but teams ranked below the Top 15 needed to win their bowl games in order to be considered for the Top 25 at the end of the year. That may not play out across the board, but at some point, you should have to win to get in. I drew the line at the Top 15.
Reminder: this list is ranked by total wins and loss, not by strength of schedule. UCF is first because they won all their games.
Northwestern and NC State both won yesterday, and that really hurts because both were ranked in the lower 20s. A bowl loss would certainly have knocked them out of the Top 25, making room for Army. The same is true for #20 Memphis (10-2, 7-1 in the AAC-West). They play Iowa State (7-5, 5-4 in the Big 12) at 12:30 today.
Army fans ought to pull hard for the Cyclones.
Beyond this, we're left trying to match strengths-of-schedule and intangibles. For example, ESPN gives Army a better strength-of-record than either Florida Atlantic or Toledo, and the Black Knights are virtually tied with Troy.
Is it possible that the Commander-in-Chief's trophy is worth more than the Sun Belt championship? Maybe, but I don't think that's the way I would bet.
I think it's also vaguely possible that voters will punish Lane Kiffin because, well, he's Lane Kiffin. Dude is a good football coach, but honestly, what's the over/under on the number of months we'll have to wait before FAU gets investigated for major NCAA recruiting violations? I'm gonna go ahead and write "16" on my wall for that one. I'd be curious to know if Vegas actually has a line on it.
Finally, I think Army has a good argument against a few Power 5 opponents and against Stanford in particular. The Black Knights have the better overall record (1 more win, 2 less losses) and a win against their sole common opponent. Stanford beat more bowl opponents (7 vs. Army's 5), but Army beat more teams that actually won their bowl games. Alas, ESPN gives them a good-sized edge in strength-of-record, and the Power 5 bias has been unaccountably strong this year.
Which brings us to my last point: ESPN/ABC/Disney/major sports media are not in the business of doing Army Sports any favors. West Point has ~50K living graduates, which does not make for a particularly large native fan base, and more to the point, Army Football has a contract with CBS/CBS Sports. The Black Knights just aren't bringing in much revenue for the big dogs. It gets so egregious that ESPN barely talks Army Football on its TV and radio shows, even during Army-Navy Week when Army is playing in the only game on TV.
2017: A Look Back— ArmyWestPoint Sports (@GoArmyWestPoint) December 29, 2017
No. 4 Notre Dame couldn't stop @ArmyWP_MLax and the Symmes train.#GoArmy pic.twitter.com/gnJurPuDXG
That goal gave Army a head-to-head win over Notre Dame Lacrosse. The Black Knights also had a win against Syracuse, then the #2 team in the country, and a better overall record than the Fighting Irish. They were still left out of the NCAA tournament while the Irish were seeded fourth overall! Needless to say, Notre Dame got smoked in the first round.
Unfortunately, the size of the fan base matters in this stuff. I mean, Jacksonville has one of the best teams in the NFL this year, but they're not exactly headlining NFL Live. Meanwhile, we can't talk enough about the Giants and/or the Cowboys, and they both suck.
What can you do?
Go Army! Beat Navy!!!