Although admittedly a newcomer to the Group of 5 chest beating club, I have no reservations saying that what we have going on here in the land of the underdog is absolutely fantastic. Three weeks in and the storylines and individual performances are step for step with the Power 5, and as we pointed out last week, the level of competition on the field is rapidly gaining ground.
Despite a weak slate of morning games, ECU, Georgia Southern, and Bowling Green were the clear showstoppers of Week 3. UCLA struggling with Texas only reaffirmed what we were lead to believe last week, that BYU is a force to be reckoned with. Power 5 buyers beware: the upsets are going to keep coming and they will only be more prolific as the talent continues to grow in the G5.
For the common football fan, or a G5 frontrunner like myself, upset wins over Power 5 schools give us an entertainment value and element of randomness that makes the Group of 5 worth following alone. But once October hits, the upsets from September often feel like a flash in the pan or a thing of the past.
For a more sustained season long drama, the national radar always seems to find a way to nominate "This Year's Boise State." Blessed with the national spotlight, TYBS games will play a role the national conversation as long as TYBS continues to win. The evolution to the Playoff Selection Committee process has done nothing to slow the chatter. As long as there is a subjective mode of entry into the national championship competition, including or excluding an undefeated TYBS will stir unrest as a source of conversation and of controversy.
After BYU held off Houston Thursday, the conversation turned to their role in the playoff picture, and everyone had an opinion. We are only three weeks in, and BYU is the likely nominee for TYBS. This is great for BYU and great for other G5's. Four out of the next five BYU games are on ESPN with more to follow as long as they keep winning. Exposure = good.
The problem with TYBS is that sometimes they lose in October. And once again, the national spotlight swings away from the Group of 5 and settles squarely on the shoulders of traditional powers. So what will keep the attention on Group of 5 football beyond #Upset-ember and This Year's Boise State?
The Randy Moss Award. The G5 continues to put out can't miss - made for YouTube football players who make plays like the other team is stuck on Jr. Varsity mode. Despite the highlight reels, it's far and few between the Group of 5's best have the chance to eat at the Heisman table. Even when future 3rd overall NFL draft picks put together 12-1 seasons (Bortles) or single handedly carry a team for two years to a 24-2 regular season record (Lynch), they're getting shut out.
So let the Power Five keep the Heisman with its politicking and legacy. The Randy Moss Award is handed out based on watch-ability and entertainment value. It goes to the most exciting player in the Group of 5. The guy whose game you're staying in to watch on a Friday night. The guy who you have to tell your SEC snob buddies about.
The award simply acts as an avenue for the Group of 5 to showcase its best. Let's tag them early, promote their gaudy numbers and XBOX highlights, and get the nation talking about the brand new award that best translates to a 2014 audience.
Too often the Heisman rewards wins and career achievements. The Randy Moss Award will reward 6 touchdown games and plays that light up the internet. Lucky enough for us, we have a front runner for the 2014 Randy Moss Award.
Watching Gunner Kiel absolutely smoke Toledo for 6 touchdowns on Friday night, I knew I wasn't going to miss another Cincinnati game this year. Seriously, go watch the highlights. Those are grown man throws. Kiel looked every bit the part of a 5-star pocket passer that had Golden Domers drooling when he committed to the Irish. Aside from being the best individual performance of the year statistically, the game now gives G5 homers a reason to stand by a prediction that Tub's Bearcats are going to trounce Ohio State in two weeks.
By beating the Buckeyes, Gunner Kiel will be a household name. Gunner Kiel might then be the best quarterback in the country. Gunner Kiel will not win the Heisman Trophy. But he's at the top of the list for the 2014 Randy Moss Award. A list that looks something like this:
1. Gunner Kiel
2. Taysom Hill, QB (BYU)
Single handedly embarrassing Texas then coming back 4 days later to beat Houston? Yea okay you're on the list.
3. Shane Carden, QB (ECU)
440 total yards and 4 total TDs against Va Tech on the road. As a reminder, Ohio State only had 327 total yards of offense against Va Tech a week ago.
4. James Knapke, QB (Bowling Green)
Let's keep the chains moving with this. The most entertaining football is being played Tuesday through Friday, and it would be a shame if it didn't get its due.