G5 Gurus track the performance of Group of 5 conferences against the Power 5, Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), and each other.

For the season, the Mountain West reigned supreme over G5 conferences with an overall winning percentage of 62.7%. This includes all games, including bowl games. The AAC rebounded from a slow start to finish second at 57.8%. The Sunbelt finished third at 54.5%. These three conferences were the only ones with winning records for 2021.

The MAC eked out fourth place at 41.8%, followed by CUSA at 40.3%, and the G5 Independents at 39.3%.

The 2021 Bowl season was a great one for the Group of Five. A 6-1 record against the Power 5 is the best in history. Unfortunately, the “1” was Cincinnati’s loss to Alabama in the CFP. However, this does not diminish what the Group of Five teams accomplished when given the opportunity to play Power 5 teams on neutral fields. As for the overall conference records in bowl play, it was very similar to the regular season. The Mountain West finished 5-1, followed by the AAC and Sunbelt, both at 3-1. Independents finished at 2-1, with the MAC and CUSA both at 3-5.

For the year, the Group-of-Five finished the season at 27-77 (25.9%) versus the Power 5. This will, of course, bring out the pundits who claim the Group of Five “can’t compete with the Power 5”. So, let’s add a bit of context to this record.

In the regular season, the Group of Five was 21-78 against the Power 5. 80% of the games were Power 5 home games. The Group-of-Five finished 8-12 (40%) in games they hosted. However, in this were four games hosted by G5 teams that would finish the season with 2 or fewer wins. The G5, of course, lost all of these games. In games where the G5 home team had 8 wins or more, the G5 was 6-2 (75%) against the Power 5.

The G5 was 13-66 in road games against the P5. Again, it is important to add some context. In 35 of those games (44%), the G5 team had 5 wins or fewer. The G5’s record was 1-34 in those games, the sole win being Bowling Green’s win over Minnesota (Big 10). In the 30 road games where the G5 team ended the season with 8 wins or more, the G5 record was 12-18 (40%). In summary, the Group-of-Five is generally at a disadvantage with 80% of their games on the road. However, good G5 teams continue to be very competitive against the P5. Consider the PAC-12 champ, Utah, lost both its games to G5 competitors. Notre Dame’s only loss in the regular season was to Cincinnati and the Irish needed a last minute TD pass to get by Toledo by 3 points. The 2021 Bowl Season underscored this. The gap between the P5 and the G5 still exists, but it is narrowing. The transfer portal, NIL, and other factors are having an impact. We look forward to an even narrower gap in 2022!

Group of Five Performance for entire 2021 season (including Bowls)

G5 ConfPower 5FCSAACCUSAMACMWCSBCINDG5TOTALPct
AAC6-127-1 5-32-01-12-13-126-190.578
CUSA2-1412-03-5 1-32-42-63-525-370.403
MAC4-1710-10-23-1 2-41-53-223-320.418
MWC7-118-21-14-24-2 0-08-132-190.627
SBC1-118-11-26-25-10-0 3-324-200.545
INDG57-123-21-35-32-31-83-3 22-340.393
G5 TOTALS27-7748-76-1323-1114-96-178-1520-12152-1610.486

Group of Five 2021 Bowl Performance

ConfAACCUSAMACMWCSBCINDG5P5TOTALPct
AAC 1-0    2-13-1          0.750
CUSA0-1 1-10-21-11-0 3-5          0.375
MAC 1-1 1-10-20-11-03-5          0.375
MWC 2-01-1   2-05-1          0.833
SBC 1-12-0    3-1          0.750
IND 0-11-0   1-02-1          0.667
Power 51-2 0-10-2 0-1 1-6          0.143
TOTALS1-35-35-31-51-31-25-020-20          0.500