This Saturday provides some big games in the Group of Five. There are six games this week that pit Top 25 Sagarin ranked teams against each other. These include Memphis visiting Temple, Tulsa hosting Navy, Hawai’i traveling to Boise State, Houston hosting Cincinnati, Wyoming traveling to San Diego State, and Air Force hosting Fresno State.
So that means the six top games involve three American Association Conference and three Mountain West Conference tilts.
There was already was a seventh Top 25 game, however, this week with Appalachian State winning at Louisiana 17-7 in the Sun Belt action.
With the Appalachian State win, that still means there are four undefeated teams in the Group of Five battling for the New Year’s Six Bowl bid. Boise State and Memphis as mentioned face some tough competition this week. SMU is the fourth undefeated team and are on a bye this week.
Here are my picks for all the Top 25 teams this week including these top six contests for this Saturday.
1. UCF (4-2) BYE
2. Boise State (5-0) vs. Hawai’i — The Broncos have owned this series having won 12 of the last 13 meetings with the Rainbow Warriors. This might be the closest contest in the span as Boise State has not really blown anyone out and Hawai’i provides a very viable offense. The Broncos will slow down the Rainbow Warriors enough to edge out another victory at home. Boise State 31 Hawai’i 24
3. Memphis (5-0) at Temple–The Tigers look to become bowl eligible for the earliest ever with a road victory. Temple has already beat two Power Five teams at home with wins over Maryland and Georgia Tech. Temple is one of the toughest defenses in all of FBS thus far but Memphis provides one of the nation’s top rushing attacks. Something has to give and I believe the Tigers get the road victory but need to win late. Memphis 24 Temple 17
4. Cincinnati (4-1) at Houston–The Bearcats are coming off their impressive home win over UCF in breaking the Knights run within the AAC over the past two plus years. Houston defeated North Texas two weeks ago so the Cougars get two weeks to prepare for this contest. The Bearcats will need to keep a similar effort and avoid a letdown after last week’s big win. They do come down a little bit in effort but muster up just enough to eck out a road win. Cincinnati 24 Houston 21
5. SMU (6-0) BYE
6. Appalachian State (5-0) The Mountaineers had their best deafensive showing this year so far with its 17-7 win at Louisiana. App State already won this week in a Wednesday night win in Lafayette.
7. Utah State (3-2) BYE
8. Tulane (4-1) vs. UConn–The Green Wave snapped Army’s 15-game home win streak last week. The Green Wave now returns to conference play as they try to make it four straight victories and do just that with a blowout win over the hapless Huskies. Tulane 46 UConn 17
9. Houston (2-3) vs. Cincinnai — SEE ABOVE
10. Wyoming (4-1) at San Diego State–The Cowboys are coming off a blowout win over UNLV, while SDSU is coming off a fairly close road win at Colorado State. The strength of the Aztecs has been its defense especicially against the run, while Wyoming is a run first offense. This game will be a back-and-forth contest and a low scoring game. San Diego State with the home field advantage get the close win. SDSU 21 Wyoming 17
11. Toledo (3-1) at Bowling Green–The Rockets look like the best team in the MAC this year and despite this being a road game, they will role over the Falcons. Toledo 38 Bowling Green 20
12. Navy (3-1) at Tulsa–Navy came back to beat Air Force last week at home and get a jump on the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy, while Tulsa took undefeated SMU to three overtimes before falling. That loss on the road for the Golden Hurricane is hard to overcome especially having to prepare for the Navy triple option. The Midshipmen go on the road and get the win. Navy 31 Tulsa 21
13. Fresno State (2-2) at Air Force–The Bulldogs are coming into this game off a bye week, while as mentioned earlier, Air Force lost last week at Navy. This is a critical game really for both teams to stay in the Mountain West race. The home field, its option attack, and its defense will be key for the Falcons to pull off a narrow win over the Bulldogs. Air Force 27 Fresno State 24
14. San Diego State (4-1) vs. Wyoming–SEE ABOVE
15. Air Force (3-2) vs. Fresno State–SEE ABOVE
16. Louisiana (4-2) The Ragin’ Cajuns lost Wednesday at home to Appalachian State 17-7.
17. Hawai’i (4-1) at Boise State–SEE ABOVE
18. Army West Point (3-2) at Western Kentucky–The Black Knight lost at home to Tulane and now travel to WKU. The Hilltoppers beat Old Dominion 20-3 last week and have held their opponents scoreless in the fourth quarter four straight times. This will be a low scoring game but Army gets back in the win column but will be a very tight game. Army 24 WKU 20
19. Western Michigan (3-3) vs. Miami (OH)–The Broncos lost to Toledo last week and Miami won its last game two weeks ago over Buffalo. The Broncos have been a little bit up and down all season but have rebounded from a loss each time this season and do so again in their home contest against the Redhawks. WMU 31 Miami 17
20. Florida Atlantic (3-2) vs. Middle Tennessee–The Owls have followed basically how I thought they would they lost their first two games in blowout fashion but have rebounded to win its last three games. FAU gets the Blue Raiders at home in this game and win easily. FAU 38 MTSU 21
21. Tulsa (2-3) vs. Navy–SEE ABOVE
22. BYU (2-3) at South Florida–The Cougars will be without QB Zach Wilson as he will sit this game out with a thumb injury and start its first black quarterback in program history with Jaren Hall getting the call under center. USF has fallen down the ranks the over the last year and half and will take another step backwards with the Cougars getting the win in Tampa. BYU 31 USF 20
23. Temple (4-1) vs. Memphis–SEE ABOVE
24. Southern Miss (3-2) vs. North Texas–UNT and Southern Miss were picked to finish first and second, respectively, in Conference USA’s West Division in the league’s preseason media poll and are off to 1-0 starts in league play. UNT played a very tough non-conference slate with losses to the Pac-12’s Calfornia and the AAC’s SMU and Houston. The Green Wave won easily last year over the Golden Eagles and get a closer win on the road this year. UNT 27 USM 24
25. Louisiana Tech (4-1) vs. UMass–The Bulldogs only loss this year was their season opener at the Big 12’s Texas and have rattled off four straight wins since. Louisina Tech gets an easy win this week over the hapless Minutemen. Louisiana Tech 38 UMass 17
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 is the 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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