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Kirk Herbstreit would put undefeated BYU in the playoff over undefeated Oregon, Cincinnati

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BYU Cougars quarterback Zach Wilson (1) runs against Texas State Bobcats linebacker Brayden Stringer (33) in Provo on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

If ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit had to pick between the undefeated trio of BYU, Cincinnati and Oregon for the last spot in the College Football Playoff, he is rolling with the Cougars.

“It has everything to do with their margin of victory,” Herbstreit said. “I mean, they’re beating people like a drum. It’s great you’re bringing up their strength of schedule because I think everybody just assumes that they’re playing nobody. That (BYU’s strength of schedule) is only going to get stronger Friday night when they play Boise State on the road.”

During the College Football Playoff: Top 25 preview show, Herbstreit said he doesn’t think BYU is getting the national recognition it deserves.

“One day, people besides Rece (Davis) and I are going to pay attention to the Cougars,” Herbstreit said. “One day, people are going to realize that (Zach) Wilson can throw it, they’re physical on both sides of the line. You guys watch that team with a ‘Y’ on their helmet, they’re not a bad ball club.”

Herbstreit recently ranked BYU essentially No. 6 in the country, picking the Cougars as one of his two “next two teams” just outside the CFP.

This is all hypothetical, of course. No. 12 Oregon has yet to play, though that will change this Saturday, and No. 6 Cincinnati is 5-0 with wins over then-ranked No. 22 Army and then-ranked No. 16 SMU.

Of course, you can throw the playoff talk out the window if BYU doesn’t win against No. 21 Boise State on Friday (7:45 p.m., Fox Sports 1). It’s the Cougars’ first matchup against a ranked team this season. ESPN’s FPI matchup predictor currently has the Cougars at a 52.9% chance to win, and BYU is favored in Las Vegas by three.