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Houston Cougars Won the Peach Bowl. What if They Got to Keep Playing?

Group of Five teams keep winning access bowls. Time for the payoff.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

As the confetti rained down on the Houston Cougars following their upset Peach Bowl Win over the Florida State Seminoles, I had to wonder how surprising the result really was.

A team from the Group of Five, formerly the non-automatic qualifiers or "BCS Busters," beat a big money brand-name team in a BCS/New Year's Six bowl.

It's a movie with more sequels than the Fast and the Furious.

Dating back to Urban Meyer's 2004 Utah Utes, G5 teams have regularly entered the biggest stage afforded them and won. Utah beat Pitt way back then, and including that win the Underdogs are 7-3 in major bowls. One of those losses came in 2009 when two G5ers qualified and the powers that be decided they should play each other. Take that out and you're 6-2 winning 75 percent of the time.

G5 wins are the norm, not the exception. That means when the cracks widen and there is more movement in the college football landscape, they need an even bigger stage.

While Boise State is the classic overachieving small-budget team, other consistent performers include Utah and TCU. Both were deemed good enough to make the formal leap into a major conference, and have kept winning. TCU probably deserved a spot in the College Football Playoff last year, while Utah was ranked #3 at one point this season and was disappointed to "only" finish 10-3 in the Pac-12.

What other test do these teams need to pass?

When the bigger school loses, you can count on a slew of stock responses. The most common is that the other team was more motivated, as if that means something. If you told your boss you didn't perform well because we weren't motivated, it's safe to say that would not go over well.

In the Peach Bowl that Houston just won I was all over #FSUTwitter. Most of it was a combination of "well it's only the Peach Bowl" and blaming quarterback Sean Maguire's injured leg for his four interceptions.

We heard all about FSU's elite defense coming into the game. When Houston quarterback Greg Ward Jr. and Co. torched them for 448 yards and 38 points, it was because of the turnovers and the short field, as if the Cougars had nothing to do with that.

I get it, we all focus on our own teams rather than the opponent, and it had to be a frustrating game to watch if you enjoy talkin' 'bout the Noles. But G5 teams overcome huge disadvantages ranging from budget to perception. It's a minor miracle Houston hung on to coach Tom Herman even with a 200 percent raise. Most small schools could not pull that off and thus success usually leads to instability.

G5 commissioners, athletic directors and fans have something to say on both the budget and perception issues. We judge groups of teams based on their top performers (you may have noticed fans of Southeastern Conference credit all 14 schools when one of them wins a national title). When Houston wins the Peach Bowl, the Group of Five should be treated no differently.

And we need to demand more access than just an access bowl.

There is no reason a strong team, an undefeated team from any conference shouldn't be in the national title hunt. College football teams control very little of their schedules, and maybe even less going forward with big teams crowing about how they'll play small ones less often.

The real, real goal G5 fans should be aiming for occurs if and when the playoffs expand to eight. Should that happen, there is absolutely no reason the best non-power team doesn't get a shot. A guaranteed shot. Every year.

Pretending for a second that happened this season, Houston would go on from this contest to play Clemson, or Oklahoma, Alabama or whoever came next. Don't tell me you wouldn't want to see that!

Congratulations to the Peach Bowl Champions. Next year the same bowl game is a playoff game. At some point, the rotation needs to include another Group.