East Carolina entered the weekend ranked No. 23 in the first College Football Playoff rankings, putting the Pirates in line for the spot in the New Year's bowls reserved for the highest-ranking non-power-conference champion.
That is now unlikely, as Temple topped ECU, 20-10, on Saturday. Further hurting ECU is the fact that its marquee wins, over Virginia Tech and North Carolina, continue to look less impressive by the week.
Who steps into the void? Maybe nobody just yet, as the committee wasn't all that impressed with ECU to begin with, ranking the Pirates two spots lower than the AP poll did. That could be based largely on ECU's strength of schedule, which is not a mighty list of conquests.
Marshall would seem to be next up, based on their undefeated record, good showing in computer rankings, and No. 23 polls ranking. The committee didn't rank the Herd, though, and that's where the committee's refusal to factor in margin of victory could change things. Marshall's schedule is light as a feather, but it's been destroying bad teams -- if destruction doesn't move the needle at all, then, nope, Marshall can't rank very highly.
Mid-major teams with two or fewer losses that have played power-conference teams are currently Boise State, Colorado State, ECU, NIU, South Alabama, and UCF (currently losing to UConn).
Of that group, CSU has both the best record, at 7-1, and two of the few wins over power teams, over Colorado and at Boston College. Considering BC's a likely bowl team, that's a better-looking big-name win than either of ECU's or NIU's win over Northwestern. Boise State probably ranks well among that group as well, since it beat CSU earlier in the year.
If a non-power team is ranked next week, the best bets would be that it's either Marshall or Colorado State, assuming no upsets the rest of Saturday. Marshall's off, while CSU is a touchdown favorite at San Jose State. If only one's ranked, we'll learn a bit more about the comparative values of schedule strength and victory margin.