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Can the Marshall Thundering Herd Ever Earn A Playoff Ranking?

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CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd is most definitely convinced that it may never, ever happen. And he has a point.

Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

Sometimes, when the bloviators begin their spiel, they're just their usual hot-air-filled selves. Other times, they manage to make some sense and raise a legitimate point.

The College Football Playoff Selection Committee basically has manufactured a three-tiered system of football that looks something like this:

• No. 1 Alabama plays meat-eatin', good-ol' 'Merican football.

• Florida State plays rugby.

• Marshall plays bridge.

There's an artificial line being drawn by the CFP, by the media, by TV ratings, by fans. Suddenly, they're all telling us the game being played by Marshall (and its peers) doesn't resemble what normal folk call football. How else do you explain why the Herd aren't ranked this late in the season?

The Marshall team that was ranked 12th in 1999 beat a Clemson team that finished 6-6 in the opener. The rest of its schedule included the likes of Temple, Western Michigan, Kent State and Liberty. This year Marshall beat the likes of Ohio, Florida International, and Florida Atlantic by an average of 31. You can slide a piece of paper between the schedule strength of those two Marshall teams. One was considered one of the best in the country. The other is invisible to the CFP.

We could start off with the Associated Press poll for a straight one-to-one comparison. No Group of Five team in the BCS era ever finished the regular season undefeated and found themselves lower than 12th in the AP poll. Marshall remains undefeated with three games left to play and they have yet to crack the Top 15.

We could use the BCS rankings as our lone historical comparison of a composite ranking. No Group of Five team in the BCS era has ever gone undefeated and not found themselves in the Top 10 of the BCS rankings. Plus Northern Illinois made it to #12 in those rankings only two seasons ago despite a 12-1 record as the Mid-American Conference champion.

Hell, we can all admit that the Western Athletic Conference was never exactly a football powerhouse. Despite that, there were four consecutive years (2006-2009) where the WAC champion finished the regular season both undefeated and ranked inside the BCS Top 10 - and only one of those teams (the '09 Boise State Broncos) started the season ranked (#16) or anywhere close to it.

It's a fair point to consider; I always felt that no matter who was on a team's schedule, there was a certain modicum of respect that was due on account of the extreme difficulty involved in winning at least eleven consecutive games. Especially in a season like Marshall's where teams have been getting bulletin-board material about the Herd's odds of going undefeated since about May.

The people in charge are still needing to either wake up or change. Dodds also mentions Justin Hardy being left off the list of Biletnikoff Award semifinalists, which is absolutely insane for a player who needs four catches to become the all-time NCAA career receptions leader and is a strong finish away from being in the top five in career receiving yards.

Winning 12 games, or catching 350 passes in a collegiate career, is a significant feat regardless of who is lining up across the field from you. It's time that everyone start acknowledging that.