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Friday, December 4, 2020

Bracket Busters

 2020 just needs its own tag.

Of all of this season's anomalies, the coolest may have just come into play. This Saturday, two undefeated non-Power 5 teams, Coastal Carolina and BYU, will play - on College Gameday, no less. This game didn't exist 24 hours ago. Coastal was set to host Liberty, currently a 9-1 Independent on College Gameday before COVID-19 changed the Flames' plans. The game could prove bountiful for one of two teams jockeying for a New Years Six bowl and an outside shot at the College Football Playoff.

This game isn't the first to come into play quickly as teams seek to duct tape their schedules back together amid COVID cancellations, but it may just be the most meaningful. It also represents an agility we've never seen before in college football, where games are typically scheduled many years in advance. The sport's usual scheduling paradigm leads to schools trying to schedule formidable opponents based on their current rankings, hoping they'll still be good enough to positively affect strength of schedule years from now. Now, both Coastal and BYU get to ink a deal with a team they already know is in the committee's top 25, with a resume boost on the line.

The concept is similar to the Bracket Busters concept, where late season flex dates gave the opportunity for tournament hopeful mid-majors to improve their fortune in advance of the NCAA men's basketball tournament. In college football, while this game alone likely won't do it for either team, the flexibility it represents could present a path forward for future Group of Five teams who lack the perceived strength of schedule to get them the postseason they deserve.

There may not be a ton to celebrate or emulate from this year, but this one's a keeper.

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