Appalachian State football has checked off another first for the program.
The Mountaineers (4-1 Sun Belt, 8-1 overall) appeared at No. 25 in the College Football Playoff rankings on Tuesday. The playoff ranking is the first for App State, as well as for Sun Belt Conference members in general.
Four Group of Five teams are ranked higher than App State: No. 17 Cincinnati, No. 18 Memphis, No. 21 Boise State and No. 23 Navy. Cincy, Memphis and Navy all play in the American Athletic Conference, and Boise State plays in the Mountain West Conference.
The highest-ranked team from those conferences will receive a berth in the Cotton Bowl. But Appalachian State, even with victories over North Carolina of the ACC and South Carolina of the SEC, would need to win out and get help to move to the top of the Group of Five list because of its home loss to Georgia Southern on Oct. 31.
App State, the East Division leader by one game, plays at Georgia State (3-2, 6-3) on Saturday. If the Mountaineers win the East and then win the Sun Belt Conference championship game on Dec. 7, its chances of appearing in a bowl game other than one with a Sun Belt tie-in is very low.
The Sun Belt has five tie-ins: the New Orleans Bowl, where the league champion would play on Dec. 21, plus the Cure, Camellia, Mobile Alabama and Arizona bowls.
“There is no waiver process for a Sun Belt member to opt out of our bowl relationships,” Scottie Rodgers, associate commissioner for strategic communications, wrote via email. “Our bowl contracts are consistent with agreements across all conferences for all of the FBS postseason opportunities.
“Every bowl spot is contractually obligated to a conference or independent institution. We have specific agreements with our five bowl partners that our members will honor and the only exceptions are selection into the College Football Playoff or a New Year’s Six bowl game.”