Games of the week
Marshall at FAU: The Thundering Herd and Owls both needed this conference win to keep their chances in the title hunt. Lane Kiffin’s team was hosting and coming off a win. These two went back and forth all night exchanging touchdowns and field goals until a crazy fourth quarter ended when Marshall scored with the 0:36 left on the clock. The Herd wins, 36-31.
Coastal Carolina at Georgia Southern: This may have been the craziest game of the weekend. There was essentially a full team dance off that everyone was penalized for and then the game itself went to three overtime’s. That’s where the Eagles would get a much needed Sun Belt win over Coastal Carolina, 30-27.
North Texas at Middle Tennessee: These two teams went blow for blow the whole game until the fourth quarter where things got a little crazy. The Blue Raiders scored with just 0:28 seconds left and it looked like the game was headed for overtime. But the Mean Green had other plans. After a 50 yard kick return, Mason Fine chucked a deep pass to Jalen Darden to set up a game winning 22 yard field goal. Mean Green survives, 33-30.
Statement wins of the week
SMU over Temple: The Owls were fresh off of an upset of Memphis but the Mustangs proved they weren’t having any repeats of that. They inch their way closer to hosting a conference title game in Dallas with a big win here, 45-21.
Louisiana Tech over Southern Miss: I was all in on the Golden Eagles last week but the Bulldogs made a new believer out of me here (sorry for the curse Louisiana Tech fans.) The added component of a lethal rushing attack makes this year feel different. Bulldogs win, 45-30.
Georgia State over Army: The Panthers have had a season of highs and lows (yes they beat THAT Tennessee) but now it feels like they’re starting to settle into a groove. They get a nice victory over what appears to be a decking Army team, 28-21.
Memphis over Tulane: Well this is one way to bounce back after a crushing conference loss. Tulane looked to have one of the best defenses in the conference but the Tigers came out on fire and never looked back. They get a BIG win, 47-17. Speaking of the Tigers offense...
Brady White- Memphis, QB: Not a great year for the Tigers quarterback but he showed Saturday why he’s their guy. He lead the offense to its biggest showing of the season. Throwing for 358 yards and five touchdowns.
Reggie Roberson- SMU, WR: The Mustangs got a big win on Saturday and even though his quarterback could easily be on this list, Roberson deserves his spot too. He had eight catches for 250 yards and three touchdowns.
Justin Henderson- Louisiana Tech, RB: The Bulldogs keep on rolling and while his teammate Malik Stanley had a great day receiving, the consistency lands Henderson here. He ran for 111 yards and two touchdowns.
Zac Thomas- Appalachian State, QB: The Mountaineers continue to roll and their quarterback was the main reason why this week. He threw for 214 yards and three touchdowns.
In the dog house
Tulane’s defense: After being one of the best defenses in the conference this year the floor fell out from underneath them against a Memphis offense that’s had its struggles this season. The Green Wave will have to go back to the drawing board.
Matt Viator- Louisiana Monroe, HC: This was supposed to be a season heading upwards and after a slug fest with Florida State early on (yes THAT Florida State) it seemed to be that way. But since then it hasn’t gone well for the Warhawks. This looked to finally be the time that a bowl was reasonably on the table and while you could argue that’s it still on the table, a blowout with the conference’s best team isn’t a good showing. Viator still needs more time but the clock will start to tick if he doesn’t find three more wins.
I can’t figure Conference USA out and that’s why it’s so fun: Every week I try to claim that team A is the new front runner and then they lose. Call it the Mike Settle curse if you’d like, I’ll own it. But this league has been all over the place for a few years now and this year is no exception. However this week... Louisiana Tech looks to be out it in front of the race. Sorry for your upcoming loss Bulldogs fans. Also Lane Kiffin doesn’t appear very happy with the conference officials. Yikes.
Boise’s loss makes room for the Mountaineers: The Broncos loss to BYU early Sunday morning in my time zone makes some wiggle room for the Sun Belt to finally enter the discussion of the New Year’s Six bowl bid. Granted the AAC will still have a lot to say about it but if Appalachian State can keep winning they’ll have as good of a case as anyone.
Is Georgia State finally becoming steady: Maybe. That’s the hope at least and it’s taken Shawn Elliot a long time to get there. Are they the class of the Sun Belt? No but they’re one win away from going back to a bowl and a glance over their schedule looks set up to win more than that. This will certainly raise expectations for 2020.
I love opening kickoff touchdown returns. Seems like Southern Miss has one every other week: