This week, the College Football Playoff Top 25 was released. The following is the full Top 25. The Group of Five has five teams in the initial release with Cincinnati ranked as the top G5 team. Below are the full Top 25 rankings with the G5 teams in bold. Four of the five teams are from the American Athletic Conference with Memphis, Navy, and SMU joining Cincinnati. Boise State from the Mountain West is the other G5 team in the rankings. Remember, the top ranked G5 team in these rankings will get a New Year’s Six bowl bid, which looks to be the Cotton Bowl this year.
I will preview the games involving these five teams this week.
Games of the Week:
Connecticut (2-7, 0-5) at Cincinnati 97-1, 4-0)
Where: Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio
When: Saturday November 9th, 3:30 PM EST
TV/Streaming: CBS Sports Network/CBS Sports App (subscription required)
The No. 20 Bearcats pulled another one out, rallying for a 46-43 victory at East Carolina. This was after trailing by 12 in the fourth quarter. While the Bearcats are the only undefeated team AAC play, they have other anxious moments with close victories this year.
The Cincinnati defense is tied for second nationally with 20 takeaways, including 12 interceptions and eight fumble recoveries. The Bearcats have 10 interceptions and five fumble recoveries in the last four games.
Cincinnati finally got its running game in high gear against ECU. RB Michael Warren II ran for a season-high 141 yards and three touchdowns, and QB Desmond Ridder added a career-high 121 yards rushing.
For UConn, the will start true freshman quarterback Jack Zergiotis. He had three turnovers during it morst recent game in loss to Navy.
UConn has lost 16 straight conference games. The Huskies have dropped 23 of their last 24 games against FBS teams.
Cincinnati has won the last two games in the series, including 49-7 last season. The Bearcats have won all eight games against UConn at Nippert Stadium. Overall, the Bearcats have won 11 in a row at home since November 2017.
Fearless Predication: The Bearcats will roll to the win in this game and should stay in the top spot in the College Football Playoff rankings amongst the Group of Five teams next week. Cincinnati 49 UConn 10
Wyoming (6-2, 3-1) at Boise State (7-1, 4-0)
Where: Albertson Stadium, Boise, ID
When: Saturday November 9th, 10:15 PM EST
TV/Streaming: ESPN/Watch ESPN
The Broncos had been the top AP ranked G5 team until the Broncos lost to BYU on the road three weeks ago. Boise State was without QB Hank Bachmeier in that game but got a major lift in last week’s win over San Jose State with the return of freshman signal caller. While he was a little rusty, he threw for only 213 yards and attempted just 17 passes in the win. But getting him back was a boost especially this week against a strong defensive team like Wyoming.
Boise State should have plenty of depth in the running back positions. RB Robert Mahone expected to return this week after missing last week against San Jose State. Mahone’s partnership with RB George Holani has proved successful in a season when the Broncos. The pair has a combined 978 yards rushing and 10 touchdown runs thus far this season. Holani had 126 yards and four touchdowns last week against San Jose State.
While BSU returns its star young quarterback, Wyoming is in a different story. Cowboy QB Sean Chambers will miss the rest of the season after suffering a knee injury against Nevada. Chambers took a hit to his knee during a 2-yard touchdown run. Chambers returned briefly in the second quarter but missed the second half and was found later to be more serious. The Cowboys will turn to back-up Tyler Vander Waal with Chambers out. Vander Waal has experience after starting nine games for Wyoming last season.
With a new signal caller, the Cowboys will likely rely on the running game more. RB Xazavian Valladay recorded 280 all-purpose yards in the most recent win over Nevada. Valladay rushed for a career-high 206 yards and added another 74 yards receiving, including a 53-yard touchdown on Wyoming’s first offensive play. It was the most all-purpose yards for a Wyoming player since Brian Hill had 302 against Nevada in 2016. In his past two games Valladay has carried the load for the Cowboys with 127 yards on 33 carries against New Mexico, followed by his performance against Nevada.
Fearless Forecast: If Wyoming had Chambers at quarterback, this would give the Cowboys a better chance as he has the ability to use his legs more so tha Vander Wall. The Broncos have been a little up and down this year despite just one loss so this season. For the Cowboys to win, it will have to be better than the defense that gives up over 285 yards passing per game and likely will be the focal point for the Broncos offense. I don’t think this will happen and the Broncos will win but it might be closer than many expect. Boise State 31 Wyoming 21
East Carolina (3-6, 0-5) at SMU (8-1, 4-1)
Where: Gerald J. Ford Stadium, Dallas, Tex.
When: Saturday November 9th, 12:00 PM EST
TV/Streaming: ESPNU/Watch ESPN
SMU lost its chance at an undefeated season with its loss last week at Memphis. But the Mustangs still have a chance at the AAC West Division and will have to hope for a Memphis loss (who plays at USF and Houston before hosting East Divsion front-runner Cincinnati yet). The Mustangs have ECU this week but looking forward, SMU has Navy on the road next week so they would win the tie-breaker then over the Midshipmen. SMU finishes the regular season at home against an improving Tulane squad.
So the chances are still there as if it wins out and Memphis would suffer another loss would give the Mustangs the AAC West Divsion crown and a chance in the AAC title game.
For this game, ECU comes in winless in league play but played well as mentioned in the Cincinnati game last week. Pirate QB Holton Ahlers threw for an East Carolina -record 535 yards and four TDs against Cincinnati, with two 100-yard receivers. Freshman C.J. Johnson set a conference record with 283 yards receiving on 12 catches, and sophomore Blake Proehl had eight catches for 105 yards.
For SMU, it is also a high powered offense led by QB Shane Buechele. He looks to again be without lead WR Reggie Roberson Jr., who has averaged 100.4 yards receiving per game, who is still dealing with a foot injury sustained Oct. 24 at Houston. But in his absense last week, the Mustangs had two 100-yard receivers in the same game for the first time this season in AAC receptions leader James Proche (13 catches for 149 yards) and freshman Rashee Rice (seven catches for 122 yards).
Fearless Prediction: This game will be a high scoring affair but the Mustangs and the home field advantage. This game will be competative for the first half but SMU should pull away in the second half. SMU 48 ECU 31
NOTE: Memphis and Navy are both off this week.
Originally from LaMoure, North Dakota, Kent is a 1996 graduate of North Dakota State University. His prior writing experience is over 15 years having previously worked with D2football.com, I-AA.org, and College Sporting News before coming to College Sports Journal in 2016. His main focus is college football in the western half of the United States– the Big Sky Conference and Missouri Valley Football Conference within the Division I FCS. And in 2017, he began also to look at the FBS Group of Five conferences of the American Athletic, Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West, and Sun Belt.
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