1 | WESTERN MICHIGAN
13-0 OVERALL | MAC CHAMPIONS | NO. 12 AP TOP 25
» Next: Cotton Bowl on Jan. 2 vs. Wisconsin
The College Football Playoff committee ultimately cottoned to the idea of Western Michigan playing in the Cotton Bowl. P.J. Fleck was already there after winning the MAC Championship, the school's first since 1988. Navy had been mentioned as a possibility before losing to Temple in the American Athletic Conference Championship. Now the Broncos head to Texas to play Wisconsin (10-3), the Big Ten runner-up. WMU has beaten two Big Ten teams this season — Illinois and Northwestern.
2 | TEMPLE
10-3 OVERALL | AAC CHAMPIONS | NO. 20 AP TOP 23
» Next: Military Bowl on Dec. 27 vs. Wake Forest
The Owls beat Navy 34-10 on Saturday to win the American Athletic Conference Championship for their seventh consecutive victory. They also achieved several firsts: Their first conference championship since 1967 (Middle Atlantic Conference), their first time ranked in consecutive seasons since 1979-80 and their first time ever winning 10 games in consecutive seasons. During the nation's sixth longest win streak, the Owls have averaged 32.7 points and outscored opponents by an average of 20.1 points.
3 | SOUTH FLORIDA
10-2 OVERALL | 7-1 AAC | NO. 25 AP TOP 25
» Next: Birmingham Bowl on Dec. 29 vs. South Carolina
The Bulls set a program record with their 10th win in a 48-31 victory against Interstate 4 rival UCF on Nov. 26. They also broke into the AP Top 25 for the first time since 2011. Only a loss to East Division champion Temple cost USF a berth in The American championship game. Ultimately, the Temple loss might have cost USF trip to the Cotton Bowl. Still, Willie Taggart (below right) and his team are headed back to the postseason with an FBS-leading streak of 30 points in 16 consecutive games. Taggart has been mentioned for job openings in the Power 5.
4 | WESTERN KENTUCKY
10-3 OVERALL | CONFERENCE USA CHAMPIONS
» Next: Boca Raton Bowl on Dec. 20 vs. Memphis
The Hilltoppers avenged one of their three losses, beating Louisiana Tech 58-44 Saturday in the Conference USA Championship. Anthony Wales, the game's Most Outstanding Player, ran for 209 yards and 4 touchdowns. Mike White passed for 421 yards and 3 TDs. Taywan Taylor caught seven passes for 194 yards and 2 TDs and Nicholas Norris added 150 yards on six catches. Third-year head coach Jeff Brohm has also emerged as a Power 5 coaching candidate after leading WKU to consecutive 10-win seasons for the first time in school history. The Hilltoppers also won consecutive conference championships for the first time since 1970-71 (Ohio Valley Conference).
5 | AIR FORCE
9-3 OVERALL | 5-3 MOUNTAIN WEST
» Next: NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl on Dec. 30 vs. South Alabama
The Falcons upset Boise State 27-20 on Nov. 26, beating the Broncos for a third consecutive season and ending their hopes of reaching the Cotton Bowl. The Falcons, who beat Navy 28-14 on Oct. 1 and clinched their 20th Commander-In-Chief's Trophy, are one of the hottest teams in college football with five consecutive victories. They're also one of only three teams to beat Boise State at least three years in a row, joining Idaho (1982-93) and Nevada (1996-98). Quarterback Arion Worthman, who rushed for 80 yards against BSU, has the Falcons heading to their ninth bowl game in 10 years under head coach Troy Calhoun.
ALSO RECEIVING VOTES
» In alphabetical order: Appalachian State, Boise State, Houston, Navy, San Diego State