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The Week That Was: Week Eight

Teams trending up, teams trending down and teams making their case for the New Year’s Six spot.

NCAA Football: Cincinnati at Temple Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

An undefeated team fell, Conference-USA gets even more weird and the Sun Belt now runs through a game full of hatred. All of that and more, this is the week that was!

Games of the week

1. Cincinnati at Temple: Both entered the day undefeated in the AAC. There was a lot on the line and the winner postioned themselves nicely in the East division race. The Owls offense played well in between the 20’s and even had a 10-0 lead early. But that quickly faded and the Bearcats would control most of the game until the fourth quarter that is. The Owls would over come two Anthony Russo turnovers then he would find Branden Mack for the score to send the game into overtime. In overtime the Cincinnati came up empty handed and it would be Russo that found Isaiah Wright in the end zone to seal the win for the Owls. The Bearcats fall from the ranks of the unbeaten and Temple stays alive in the East.

NCAA Football: Cincinnati at Temple Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

2. North Texas at UAB: Some were calling this game the biggest game in UAB history and it’s hard to argue that. North Texas came into this game having their best season in a long time but so were the Blazers. Mason Fine and the Mean Green offense had their normal day at the office and they jumped out to an early 14-3 lead. But UAB came storming back to trade scores with North Texas. The Blazers defense pitched a second half shutout against one of the most explosive offenses in the country and scored 17 unanswered to get the win and place themselves in the drivers seat for the C-USA west crown.

3. Miami (OH) at Army: You may have missed this one and that’s a shame because it turned out to be one of the best games of the weekend. A two overtime classic where the winner didn’t complete a single pass. The Black Knights have certainly had an emotional swing season and this game was no different. A back and forth contest where Army relied on their ground game (per usual) to seal the win. A lot of credit goes to Gus Ragland for his performance in a losing effort for Miami. He had 329 yards passing and four touchdowns.

NCAA Football: Miami (Ohio) at Army Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Top Dogs of the week

1. Justice Hansen- Arkansas State, QB: The Red Wolves picked up a big win against Georgia State this week and Hansen’s performance stood out. He had 257 yards and three touchdown and two rushing touchdowns as well.

NCAA Football: Arkansas State at Alabama John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

2. KeeSean Johnson- Fresno State, WR: The NFL prospect had himself a night against New Mexico. He had 149 yards and two touchdowns.

NCAA Football: Fresno State at UCLA Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

3. James Morgan- Florida International, QB: While Morgan’s stat line didn’t light the world on fire he has certainly become more than consistent and is a leader on this surging Panthers team. He had 229 yards and 2 touchdowns.

NCAA Football: Indiana at Florida International Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

4. Johnny Ford- South Florida, RB: The Bulls stay undefeated another week and Ford’s performance was a huge reason why. He had 164 yards and three touchdowns.

NCAA Football: Connecticut at South Florida Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

There weren’t any real upsets to discuss this week so instead I’m going to do something a little different. Let’s take a look at three teams trending up and three teams trending down.

Teams trending up

1. Florida International: The Panthers are in their second year under head coach Butch Davis and the significant progress being made cannot be denied. Now they have a defense that plays physical and an offense that gets better by the week. With their win over Rice this past week FIU moves to 5-2 and one step closer to locking up the C-USA East division.

NCAA Football: Massachusetts at Florida International Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

2. Georgia Southern: The Eagles have risen from the ashes of being irrelevant. That’s not just a silly play on words either, the program took a serious dip during the two year Tyson Summers era. We aren’t just talking about baby steps of improvement here either seeing as their only loss of the season is to the #2 team in the country. Now they head into a massive showdown against hated rival Appalachian State, more on that later.

3. Houston: Don’t look now but the Cougars are flying under the radar. Is that something we all thought would happen in August? Probably not but Houston have been out of the spotlight since their loss to Texas Tech. While their defense still leaves a lot to be desired the offense is still humming and they have the American West all but locked up. Now they get an undefeated and ranked USF team, win that game and they’re right back in the picture for that New Year’s Six spot.

NCAA Football: Houston at Navy Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Honorable mention: Eastern Michigan

Teams trending down

1. Florida Atlantic: The Owls were one of the best stories in 2017 but with lack of offensive identity they’ve struggled to get going in 2018. A blowout loss to Marshall has only amplified the issues. Chris Robison threw four interceptions that set the Herd up with good field position all night. But this isn’t the first time this has happened. The coaching turnover on both sides is another reason it has been a lackluster year and now a fight for bowl eligibility.

NCAA Football: Bethune Cookman at Florida Atlantic Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

2. Navy: What has happened in Annapolis? The Midshipmen were the model of service academy consistency until this season. They’ve showed fight and lost some close games but their win over Memphis no longer looks impressive and their losses aren’t stacking up to well either. Is a bowl game out of reach? It would appear that way unless upsets over Notre Dame and Army are on the way.

NCAA Football: Houston at Navy Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

3. Memphis: The Tigers had some picking them to win the American West in the preseason. After the surge of the last few years many expected Memphis to continue that trend but losses to Tulane, Navy, UCF and now Missouri have put a pretty talented team in a rough postition. While the American championship game seems to be out of reach, making another bowl would still be big for the program. Can they get there?

NCAA Football: Memphis at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Honorable mention: Toledo

In the dog house

1. Randy Edsall- UConn, HC: This return hasn’t gone according to plan. Edsall inherited a mess but he hasn’t done himself any favors by being contentious with the media and only winning one game this year. That win was a pretty close game against Rhode Island by the way. Will things continue to trend this way or is this a complete rebuild back to relevance? The better question is will he be there long enough to find out.

NCAA Football: Connecticut at South Florida Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

2. Phillip Montgomery- Tulsa, HC: He’s been here before but it’s been a few heartbreaking losses in a row. A blown lead against Houston and USF. Then this week a shutout loss to a below average Arkansas team. You can say Montgomery’s teams are a tough out for everyone they play but that hasn’t lead to any more wins. Is it time to look elsewhere?

Tulsa v Houston Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Final Thoughts

1. The Sun Belt runs through a Thursday night in Statesboro: I mentioned this briefly before but this Thursday night could determine a lot. Not only will it likely decide who wins the Sun belt east but it could decide who wins the innagural Sun Belt title game. Throw in the fact that these two programs and fan bases absolutely hate each other and you have the recipe for a Thursday night Fun Belt classic.

2. Are we on collision course for UAB-FIU: We don’t know yet but it’s starting to trend that way. The Panthers improve week to week and the Blazers cleared their biggest hurdle by beating North Texas. It’s nice to see some new blood again at the top of the conference.

3. Don’t forget about Fresno State: Maybe you haven’t but a lot of people certainly have. A weird loss to Minnesota on the road hurt them in the way of national spotlight BUT they’ve been handling their business ever since. So much so that they recieved a shout-out on College Gameday from Kirk Herbstreit himself.