Group of Five Heavy Hitter Saturday Previews 9/7/19

There are a number of Power 5 match-ups this week for the Group of Five but it is two G5 vs. G5 match-ups that I have most of my attention towards this week. The two games I am watching closely are Florida Atlantic hosting current CSJ Sagarin G5 Top ranked UCF and then the battle of the Dallas, Texas area with SMU hosting North Texas.

Game 1 of the Night:

UCF (1-0) at Florida Atlantic (0-1)
When: Saturday, September 7th, 7:00pm EDT
Where: FAU Football Stadium, Boca Raton, FL
TV/Streaming: CBSN/CBS Sports App (subscription required)

UCF Knights

The Knights had no problem in its opener as they easily defeated FCS opponent Florida A&M, 62-0. With Notre Dame transfer QB Brandon Wimbush under center, UCF didn’t miss a beat as it scored early and often. The Knights finished with nearly 700 yards of offense in the victory. The UCF defense allowed just 96 total yards and shut out Florida A&M. As a team, UCF recorded 12 tackles for a loss.

The Knights have not lost in two years during the regular season play and defeated this safe FAU squad in a 56-36 shootout last season when the teams met in Orlando.

Key Players: RBs Greg McCrae and Adrian Killins will be key to go with the Wimbush to keep a balance on offense. Killians was the star last week where he ran for 106 yards and a touchdown. Look for both to get their shot in this one and to play a key in this road game.

Florida Atlantic Owls

The Owls may have the toughest first two games in all of college football after traveling to Ohio State last week and now get to host UCF. FAU spotted Ohio State last week to a 28-0 lead in at the midpoint of the first quarter but then outscored the Buckeyes the rest of the way but still lost by a final of 45-21.

The Owls ranked 11th in C-USA last year in defense so this side of the ball needs to improve and did not show much improvement last week over Ohio State. That will need to be a key focus this week against the power Knight offense.

Key Player: QB Chris Robison is in his second season as the starter. Thus far, he has not had great statistics but is a good play caller at the line. The key for him is to put his team in the best play and be able to throw some deep balls to open up the Knight defense.

Fearless Prediction: The two defenses were almost non-existent in the meeting last year between these two teams. This game will likely have a little more defensive presence. While the Owls have the home field that will help this be a closer game but the talent level of UCF will be too great for FAU to overcome. UCF 38 FAU 24

Game 2 of the Night:

North Texas (1-0) at SMU (1-0)
When: Saturday, September 7th, 7:00pm EDT
Where: Gerald J. Ford Stadium, Dallas, TX
TV/Streaming: ESPN3/Watch ESPN

North Texas Mean Green

The Mean Green have beaten SMU on its home field in Dallas once, and that was in 1933. UNT is 1-24-1 all-time against its neighbors to the south in games played in Dallas and trails in the all-time series 6-31-1.

UNT broke through last year with a 46-23 win at Apogee Stadium in a game it led 36-0. A win would be historic for UNT not only because it would be its first in Dallas. It would also give the Mean Green back-to-back wins over SMU for the first time ever.

Key Player: QB Mason Fine is one of the best quarterbacks in all of college football in the country. He has all the North Texas records already for yards and touchdowns thrown, and he’s only a game into his senior season. Fine threw to nine different targets in the 51-31 win over Abeline Christian last week, with Ricco Bussey recording 156 yards, miraculously, on just four receptions. He will need to continue this against SMU to spread the ball around to keep the SMU defense guessing where he is going with the ball.

SMU Mustangs

SMU took down Arkansas State last week on the road. SMU held on late to beat Arkansas State 37-30. They had balance in the game with 360 passing yards and 148 rushing yards and while their pass defense was not good, they held A-State to 90 yards, and they forced three turnovers and only committed one.

The pass defense is an obvious concern for SMU, as that unit was torched by UNT’s QB Fine last season in the loss to the Mean Green.

Key Player: QB Shane Buechele threw for 360 yards in SMU’s season-opening win over Arkansas State and has plenty of talent around him. Wide receiver Reggie Roberson Jr. caught 11 passes for 180 yards. Buechele, the Big 12 Texas transfer, will play his first home game and handling his emotions in this one will be the key for the Mustangs offense to perform at its best.

Fearless Prediction: This game with two stronger quarterbacks looks like one that will be very high scoring. Turnovers will really be the key in this game and the winner will be the team that holds onto the ball better. With this game at Ford Stadium, the Mustangs will have an advantage and will get the narrow win to avenge the loss in Denton last year. SMU 36 UNT 32