A little change in format this week because the regular season has come to an end and while that makes all of us sad it means that conference championships and bowl season has arrived. Before we get there let’s take a look back at the week that was!
Wins of the week
Appalachian State over Troy: The mountaineers are going to the innagural Sun Belt championship game. Troy has been the standard in the conference under Neal Brown and to get a win like this was another feather in the cap for Scott Sadderfield and the program. This wasn’t only a win over the Trojans but it was a convincing one. App State wins 21-10.
Louisiana over Louisiana-Monroe: Speaking of the Sun Belt championship game the Rajin’ Cajuns have had a season that no one saw coming. They get a win over rival ULM and punch their ticket to play App State on Saturday. Billy Napier was taking over a rebuild but this win proves his program is way ahead of schedule.
Tulane over Navy: THE GREEN WAVE ARE GOING TO A BOWL. That’s a great thing too because in a season full of highs and lows there is no better way to cap it off. Close and heartbreaking losses left them with a record that doesn’t truly show the improvement under Willie Fritz but big wins over teams like Memphis and now this proves the program is in the right hands.
Memphis over Houston: The Tigers knew what was at stake in this one and with Houston missing its star QB there was a conference championship berth up for the taking. Memphis has had an up and down season but has gotten hot at the right time. They suffered a close loss to UCF earlier in the year and now a win over Houston gives them a chance for the second year in a row to avenge that loss in the AAC title game.
FAU at home to Charlotte: Is there a bigger disappointment in the group of five this season than the Owls? You would be hard pressed to find one. Florida Atlantic was coming off a ten win season and conference title but now with a loss to Charlotte (who just lost their coach) they won’t be going to a bowl game. All is not well in paradise.
Louisiana Tech at home to Western Kentucky: Louisiana Tech is a really hard team to figure out. They have some nice wins under their belt but some really bad losses as well, this is one of those. In what would prove to be the Mike Sanford’s last game as the Hilltoppers coach they come out with a win against the Bulldogs. This loss puts a damper on a season that could’ve been special.
FIU at home to Marshall: FIU had an opportunity to win the Conference East and host the title game with a win if MTSU beat UAB. Well one of those things happened and it wasn’t a Panthers victory. This was a good season from FIU but with a 3 point loss to end the season it has Panthers fans wondering what could’ve been.
News and Notes
Mike Sanford is out at Western Kentucky: To break this down as simple as possible, Mike Sanford just wasn’t quite ready for this job. Just two years ago Western Kentucky was the toast of the group of five and had a coach that everyone wanted. While the Hilltoppers showed some signs of life late it wasn’t enough to save their coach. I expected him to get another year to see his vision through but I also understand the firing. Sanford tried to change too much, too soon and it ultimately cost him.
Houston fires it’s defensive coordinator: Mark D’Onofrio is no longer the defensive coordinator for the Cougars. This is one you could see coming a mile away and a move some were calling for before the season began. No defense with Ed Oliver on it should be as bad as this Houston defense was. Their offense was electric and their magical season was derailed by D’Onofrio’s side of the ball.
Houston fires defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) November 26, 2018
The Bahamas Bowl is set: The first full fledge bowl announcement is here. Toledo of the MAC will take on FIU of Conference USA. This game could be a whole lot of fun and you can’t complain about a trip to the Bahamas. Especially if you’re a Rockets fan or player. This is the second bowl game in a row for FIU.
PASSPORTS STAMPED: It will be @FIUFootball vs, @ToledoFB in the 2018 Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl on Friday, Dec. 21 at 12:30 pm ET in Nassau's Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium. #BowlGamesAreBetterInTheBahamas pic.twitter.com/UFtvztYpFa— Bahamas Bowl (@TheBahamasBowl) November 26, 2018
Not going bowling
Some teams were fighting for their post season lives this weekend and they fell short.
FAU: This one sticks out the most but I already touched on that. In year two under Lane Kiffin they just couldn’t get past the coaching staff turnover from the previous year.
Coastal Carolina: The Chanticleers were also facing a bowl game right in the face and it would’ve been their first one since moving up to the FBS but they suffered a heartbreaking loss to South Alabama.
SMU: The Mustangs had a chance to win it’s division just two weeks ago but a loss to Tulsa sends them home without a bowl appearance. They seemed to be heading the right direction but going for 5-7 was a setback for Sonny Dykes.
1. Darrell Henderson- RB, Memphis: The Tigers got a big win over Houston and Henderson was the most important part of it. He had 178 yards and two touchdowns.
2. Brent Stockstill- QB, MTSU: The Blue Raiders will host the CUSA title game this week and their win that locked that up was in large part on the arm of Stockstill. He went 22 of 29 for 278 yards and two touchdowns.
3. Wesley Fields- RB, Georgia Southern: The Eagles got revenge over rival Georgia State and locked up a chance to win 9 games this year. Fields was a massive part of this win, he had 151 yards and a touchdown.
Conference title games are set
American- Memphis at Central Florida: The Tigers took care of business against Houston and win the West for second year in a row. They’ll face off against a top 10 UCF team who knocked off rival USF on Saturday but is now without star quarterback McKenzie Milton.
Conference USA- UAB at Middle Tennessee: This is rematch from this past weekend where they Blue Raiders ruined the Blazers perfect record in conference and the chance to host this game. Now UAB will look to return the favor but this time with a championship at stake.
See y’all in Murfreesboro next Saturday! pic.twitter.com/emfWQdfoka— Conference USA (@ConferenceUSA) November 24, 2018
Sun Belt- Louisiana at Appalachian State: The Rajin’ Cajuns knocked off rival ULM and App State took care of preseason conference favorite Troy. This a match up I don’t think anyone was predicting in the pre-season but is definitely one that has a lot of people excited. How will the high scoring Louisiana offense match up against the stout defense of the Mountaineers?
MAC- Northern Illinois vs Buffalo: Buffalo has had an incredible season and will have a chance to win 11 games this year but they have to go through perennial MAC favorite Northern Illinois first.
See you in Detroit! @UBFootball (10-2, 7-1 MAC) wins East Division title and is headed back to the Marathon MAC Championship Game for the first time since 2008. #UBhornsUp #MACtion pic.twitter.com/qTENYeUgBk— #MACtion (@MACSports) November 23, 2018
Mountain West- Fresno State at Boise State: Utah State’s incredible season was cut short this year with a loss to Boise State on Saturday. But that’s okay because we get a rematch of a really fun game from a few weeks back where turnovers made the difference and Boise won. Will Fresno avenge that loss?
We’re all with McKenzie Milton: What a bummer this was. As we all watched the war on I-4 on Friday we saw the star QB go down on the field due to a gruesome leg injury. We all sat in silence, even the ones sitting at home. You hate to see this happen to a player who has not only been a shining light for the group of five but college football on the whole. I think I speak for all of us at UDD and the fans in our community as I say our thoughts are with McKenzie and the Milton family. We’re all pulling for a speedy recovery.