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The Week That Was: Week Nine

The AAC race is deeper than ever, a few teams in Conference USA stand out and the Sun Belt has a team fight for a New Year’s Six argument.

NCAA Football: Memphis at Tulsa Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Games of the week

Memphis at Tulsa: The Tigers almost got caught in a letdown look ahead sandwich against Tulsa. It took a late field goal to put it away in what was one heck of a comeback and late surge from the Golden Hurricane. Memphis wins and now goes on to host SMU while welcoming in College Gameday.

Western Kentucky at Marshall: This game had some controversial officiating that went against the Hilltoppers but that’s not enough to take credit away from Marshall who continues to keep their name alive in the conference race. A fun game that went back and forth that like game before came down to a late field goal. Rohrwasser nails a 53 yarder late to seal the win, 26-23. I think both teams are headed in the right direction after this one.

North Texas at Charlotte: Has there been a bigger disappointment this year than North Texas. Mason Fine was and Seth Litrell came back, the Eagles were expected to maintain and maybe even take a step forward but the defense yet again let’s them down. Both offenses had great days but it would be the late 34 yard touchdown with 18 seconds left to play that gave Charlotte the win and it’s a big one. 49ers win, 39-38.

Statement wins

Georgia State over Troy: This has been a huge proof of concept season for the Panthers. The perfect way to let everyone know you’ve flipped this thing in the right direction is by knocking off one of the most consistent programs in the conference and that’s exactly what Shawn Elliot’s group did on Saturday.

Appalachian State over South Alabama: What looks like a normal ho-hum win is actually the signs of a ranked team not getting too high or too low with the season but beating the teams you’re supposed to beat like you’re supposed to beat them. We’ll see if the Mountaineers can carry that attitude into a home Thursday night show down against its hated rival Georgia Southern. This is also ends the ranked Sun Belt team curse, thankfully!

Navy over Tulane: I don’t know if anyone that had this Navy team highly thought of in the pre-season but the Midshipmen have proved a lot of doubters wrong. Tulane’s defense who got off to hot start this season ran into a buzzsaw for the second week in a row. It took a late field goal to seal the deal but the victory puts Navy at 6-1 and right in the conference race.

UCF over Temple: After the Cincinnati loss it’s almost like people wanted to forget about the Knights (more on that later.) But the got a blowout win over a Temple team that just beat conference favorite Memphis a few weeks back. Safe to say, the team in Orlando isn’t going down without a fight.

SMU over Houston: The Mustangs continue to roll with a win over a Houston team they could have been easily slept on. It was closer than fans would’ve liked but an in-state victory that keeps alive in that New Year’s Six hunt is all matters now. SMU could’ve got caught looking ahead to Memphis but they made a statement here (see what I did there?)

Top Dogs

Otis Anderson- UCF, RB: The Knights offense rolled over the Owls this week and Anderson was the key component. He rushed for 205 yards and one touchdown.

NCAA Football: Central Florida at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

J’Mar Smith- Louisiana Tech, QB: The Bulldogs continue to look better every week and this time they got a great performance out of their quarterback. Smith had 338 yards and three touchdowns against UTEP.

NCAA Football: Louisiana Tech at Texas Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

Tra Barnett- Georgia State, RB: The Panthers have been a really fun story in 2019 and that includes their offense. Barnett had a day to remember against Troy, he rushed for 242 yards and two touchdowns.

NCAA Football: Georgia State at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

In the dog house

Florida International- the whole team: It pains me to do this because last year this was a great story for Butch Davis and his team down in Miami but safe to say they’ve underwhelmed so far this season. Maybe we had expectations too high from the outside looking in but for a program that looked to be headed the right direction, 2019 has been a major step back.

NCAA Football: Florida International at Miami Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Troy Defense: I can allow for a first year head coach and team with a lot of turnover some wiggle room but the tough and physical defense had been a staple of the Trojans for the last few seasons and now that’s nowhere to be found. Georgia State’s offense is improved but 52 points is a lot to give up and that lands them here.

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

Walt Bell- UMass, HC: I know that expectations in what is essentially a year negative one for Bell were low but I don’t think anyone saw this coming. The Minutemen haven’t really been competitive all season and this past week was no different. A loss to UConn of all teams does nothing to show proof of concept and something to cling to going forward. Walt Bell has a steep climb ahead to turn this program back around.

Final thoughts

UCF hasn’t disappeared: Despite the fact that many people outside of the Knights fan base wanted it to be true. UCF still sits with just one loss in conference and very much in the hunt to win it’s conference. Sure they need help but they proved Saturday that when they get things rolling they can beat anyone they play and it doesn’t have to be close. The program isn’t going away.

The best Louisiana Tech team in a long time: The last 5 years or so we would watch Louisiana Tech and think this is finally the year they get over the hump and host a conference championship game and don’t look now but I’m saying that again. They already broke my curse last week by winning so they’re a step ahead but they continue to look like the top of the league with just a month left to go. Their only loss on the season comes on the road at Texas, can they keep the momentum?

Georgia Southern is finding it’s groove at the perfect time: The Eagles started the season out a little shaky with some unexpected losses but the offense is finally clicking and it couldn’t come at a better time. Up next is gated rival Appalachian State and with this one you can throw the records out to be cliche about it. It was just least year that Georgia Southern spoiled the Mountaineers being ranked party and they’re in a prime spot to do it again.