Welcome everyone! This upcoming college football season I’m going to be giving you a weekly wrap-up of what took place across the Group of Five landscape. What that means is I’ll be highlighting the top three games in the G5, the top upsets, honoring our underdogs who had huge performances over the weekend and showcasing a lighthearted “fail” of the week, because who doesn’t enjoy laughing at the Power 5 occasionally.
What better way to introduce this article than offer a brief preview of what we should be on the lookout for in 2018.
Top conference games of the year
1. Troy at Appalachian State: This one closes out the regular season and could have huge implications on who makes the inaugural Sun Belt title game. Troy is coming off one of it’s best seasons ever and App State has had no trouble with it’s transition into FBS. This one will have big fight feel with a lot on the line! This could also be the swan song for both Neal Brown and Scott Saderfield.
2. Ohio at NIU: Frank Solich may have his most talented team ever at Ohio and that’s coming off a MAC Championship appearance. Will this be the year the Bobcats finally break through and win a conference title? A win over the Huskies would go a long way and we could potentially see this one again in the MAC title game.
3. Houston at Memphis: This game takes place the final weekend of the season and for good reason. While UCF is everyone’s darling to repeat as AAC champions these are the two teams that are their biggest threat. The winner of this one will likely be in conference title game and sets themselves up nicely to grab a New Year’s Six bowl berth. Not to mention this one could be really fun.
4. San Diego State at Fresno State: If everything ends up according to plan this game will decide the West division in the Mountain West. Fresno caught some people off guard last year but the Aztecs will be more than ready this season. Plus we get to see KeeSean Johnson and Juwan Washington at the same time!
5. North Texas at UAB: It would be easy to put an FAU game right here seeing that they are the overwhelming favorite to win C-USA but North Texas looks to build on last year’s appearance in the conference championship game and UAB looks to avenge last year’s three point loss. Expect another high scoring affair where the winner places themselves firmly in the driver’s seat to win the division.
Potential Power 5 upsets
1. North Texas at Arkansas: The Mean Green are coming off of a 9 win season and are looking to make an even bigger name for themselves. There is no better way to do that than taking out an SEC foe. They’ll be catching the Razorbacks at just the right time and very early into the Chad Morris era, could this be the big break Seth Litrell’s team has been looking for?
2. Troy at Nebraska: In 2017 we saw the Trojans knock off LSU in Tiger stadium at night! Could the bell strike twice as they travel to Lincoln and try to spoil Scott Frost’s first season? They lost a few key peices but this game being early in the year sets up nicely for Troy to walk out victorious.
3. Boise State at Oklahoma State: Many wouldn’t even consider this an upset since Boise enters the season nationally ranked.
https://t.co/D9hOZ08VFa. Boise State Ranked 22nd In Preseason Amway Coaches Poll— Jose Aguirregabiria (@JAguirregabiria) August 5, 2018
But this is a P5 vs G5 game and is the most likely of these three to actually happen. The Broncos are primed to reclaim the spot as the top G5 team in the nation and they’ll get a big stage to prove themselves in Stillwater against a Cowboys team that is replacing a ton of talent.
Top 3 players to watch
1. Ed Oliver, DT. Houston: What more can I say about him that hasn’t already been said? He is a one man wrecking crew and you should enjoy him in college football for as long as you can because this is final run.
2. KeeSean Johnson, WR. Fresno State: Coming off a 1,000 yard season that helped lead his team to being nationally ranked and an appearance in the Mountain West championship game. He has the ability to exceed last year’s numbers and really set himself up to be playing on Sunday’s in the near future.
3. Devin Singletary, RB. Florida Atlantic: There is some dark horse Heisman buzz for Singletary and it’s more than deserved. As the key component that helped the “Lane Train” offense take off last season he could even be a bigger factor this year.
Top 3 coaches on the hot seat
1. Brad Lambert, Charlotte: Four wins in three C-USA seasons and 1-11 last year. This job will be one of the better ones in a few years but without a quick turnaround season Lambert won’t be around to watch it grow.
2. Bob Davie, New Mexico: An off-season mired in controversy that saw him suspended for 30 days and coming off of a season that saw the Lobos win one conference game this could be the last time we see Davie on the sideline without a miracle turnaround.
3. Scottie Montgomery, ECU: In his first 2 seasons at East Carolina he’s amassed just six wins at what is normally one of the top programs in the group of 5. A passionate fan base and administration is expecting a quick turnaround or Montgomery’s days could be numbered.
Top 3 things I’m looking forward to
1. A new face in Orlando: The Knights took the college football world by storm last year with an undefeated season and capping it off with a national championship (wink and nod). But Scott Frost and his whole staff are now in Nebraska. Enter Josh Heupel. He’ll have big shoes to fill but the return of McKenzie Milton at quarterback should help smooth the transition. UCF fans expect another AAC title and New Year’s Six bowl. Can Josh Heupel and the Knights repeat last year’s success?
2. Boise State vs Troy: Two of the best Group of Five programs in the country will face off in a rematch of last year’s classic. A heavyweight fight better than anything the UFC can offer. Can these two play every year please?
3. The MAC’s pirate flag: This concept was debuted during conference media days and it quickly became one of my favorite things in the sport. It will be waved any time a MAC team knocks off a power 5 opponent and they’ll have plenty of chances to fly this baby!
Bonus: NEW MEXICO STATE IS ON NATIONAL TV AUGUST 25TH. WATCH THE AGGIES PLEASE!