Navy loss leaves Western Michigan positioned for Cotton Bowl

Ohio running back Maleek Irons (21) is stopped by Western Michigan defensive lineman Nathan Braster, left, and linebacker Robert Spillane, rear, during the first half of the Mid-American Conference championship, Friday in Detroit. (AP photo)

By RALPH D. RUSSO

AP College Football Writer

The College Football Playoff selection committee won’t have to wait for the Army-Navy game to complete the pairings for New Year’s Six bowls after the Midshipmen lost to Temple in the American Athletic Conference championship game Saturday.

Unbeaten Western Michigan is positioned to be the highest-ranked team from the Group of Five conferences when the committee releases its final rankings Sunday. That would send the 13th-ranked Broncos to the Cotton Bowl as the highest-ranked champion from the Group of Five.

Western Michigan was 17th in the last playoff rankings and Navy was 19th. If the Midshipmen had won, the committee would have had to consider holding the Cotton Bowl spot open until Navy completed its season against Army next Saturday.

Temple (10-3), which beat Navy 34-10, was not ranked.

Had the selection committee needed to wait on Army-Navy, it also would have caused other smaller bowls to hold off on setting matchups and created the need for shuffling of teams or contingency plans for organizers around the country.

Wright Waters, executive director of the Football Bowl Association, said earlier this week that 10 to 14 bowls could be affected in some way if the committee had to wait for Army-Navy.

Now Western Michigan looks like a lock for the Cotton Bowl. Navy already has a deal in place to play in the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, Texas.