The final week of the regular season is upon us and nothing has been settled in Conference USA with five teams battling for two spots in the championship game. In the AAC, it will be either Memphis or Navy facing off against Cincinnati for the conference title. Memphis and Cincinnati play this weekend, and if Memphis wins they will play the Bearcats back to back weeks which would be an interesting scenario for both teams.
The Sun Belt championship game is already set with App State and Louisiana facing off in two weeks. The Ragin’ Cajuns will be looking for some revenge after losing last season’s title game to the Mountaineers and suffering a home loss to App State earlier this season. Here are my initial thoughts on this week’s matchups.
FIU at Marshall
Spread: Marshall - 7.5
The Panthers had their biggest win in program history last week with a 30-24 win over Miami. FIU outplayed the Hurricanes all four quarters and they were clearly the better and more hungry team throughout. With the win, FIU became bowl eligible for the third consecutive season which is a school record. The Thundering Herd are coming off a devastating loss at Charlotte, and they need help to reach the championship game. Marshall needs to win Saturday and hope FAU falls to Southern Miss Saturday afternoon. This is a tough situational spot for FIU after the emotional win over Miami. They have to travel into colder weather to play a desperate team that needs to win to keep their title hopes alive.
I lean towards Marshall in this matchup
App State at Troy
Spread: App State - 13
App State has already clinched a spot in the Sun Belt title game, but they still have more to play for as they head to Troy for a Friday night showdown. The Mountaineers need to win to secure home field advantage for the championship game, and they need to win out to hopefully capture a New Year’s Six bowl invite. The Trojans have had a tough season under first year head coach Chip Lindsey. They are currently 5-6 and were destroyed by Louisiana last weekend. I expect them to play much better at home, but it won’t be enough. In the Mountaineers seven conference wins, they have won by an average of almost 24 points a game.
App State should win and cover the 13 point spread
Texas State at Coastal Carolina
Spread: Coastal Carolina - 7
It’s been an up and down 2019 season for Coastal Carolina. The Chanticleers had a huge non-conference win over Kansas and started the season 3-1 before struggling in conference play. Three of their last four losses have been by three points or less including their most recent loss to ULM by the score of 45-42. They have a 1-6 conference record, but this team isn’t far away from being a bowl contender. It’s also been a challenging season for Texas State and new head coach Jake Spavital. Spavital has been a part of some high powered offenses in his coaching career, but things didn’t go as planned this year. The Bobcats have really struggled on offense only averaging 18 points per game which is among the worst in the country. I think the Chanticleers let out some frustration on Texas State and close out the season with a win.
I like Coastal Carolina to win and cover the spread
Southern Miss at FAU
Total Points: 54
The Owls are rolling and have won four straight games by an average of 23 points per game. FAU averages 34 points per game and they have scored at least 28 points nine times this season. The Owls can clinch a spot in the title game with a win or a Marshall loss. The Thundering Herd play early on Saturday so FAU will no doubt be scoreboard watching before they kickoff at 3:30 ET. After losing at home to Western Kentucky, the Golden Eagles now need to win and get some help to make the championship game. Southern Miss has an explosive offense but suffered a potential loss at quarterback last week. Jack Abraham injured his knee and it is unclear if he will play against FAU. The Golden Eagles also suffered some injuries on defense as starting linebackers Swayze Bozeman and Racheem Boothe also left the WKU game. If Abraham can’t play, Tate Whatley will start at quarterback for Southern Miss. Whatley is a sophomore who started three games last season and is a talented player. Both teams have explosive weapons on offense, and the weather looks ideal for an entertaining matchup in Boca Raton.
Look for this game to go over the total of 54 points.