Highlights: CSJ FBS Group of Five Top Five Games and Recap of Week 1

Houston quarterback Clayton Tune (3) leaps over UTSA safety Kelechi Nwachuku (6) to score during overtime for the game winning two-point conversion (Courtesy of AP)

Wow, it was good to have a full week of football back. Week 0 did give us an appetizer last week but we got a full course dinner in Week 1.

The big game in the Group of Five matched two Texas schools that feel they can win their respective conferences. Houston and UTSA met in San Antonio. The current AAC Cougars met the future AAC Roadrunners. Of course, the two schools will not be a part of the same conference as Houston will be moving on to the Big 12 next year when UTSA moves from C-USA to the AAC.

But the two teams put on a display in a three-overtime thriller in this one. Houston QB Clayton Tune leaped over a UTSA defender to score on a 13-yard run in that third extra period for the two point conversation.

The Roadrunners failed on their two-point try following Tune’s acrobatics and the 24th AP ranked Cougars escaped with 37-35 victory.

Per NCAA rules for a third overtime, each team gets a single two-point try and continues until there is a difference.

Houston rallied from a 14-point deficit in the second half at the Alamodome to snap UTSA’s 10-game home winning streak.

Houston dominated the final quarter, maintaining possession for 10 minutes, 30 seconds in driving 77 yards on 18 plays. The drive ended with Bubba Baxa kicking a 35-yard field goal with 26 seconds remaining for a 24-21 lead.

Tune ran for three first-down conversions in the final drive of regulation, including two during which he scrambled out of the pocket after not finding an open receiver.

UTSA matched the feat in far less time, driving 55 yards in 23 seconds for a 37-yard field goal by Jared Sackett to force overtime.

Here is a full recap of this game.

But that was not the only overtime game matching two G5 schools. Tulsa and Wyoming also went to double overtime Saturday with the homestanding Cowboys withstanding this grudge match. Wyoming K John Hoyland kicked a 30-yard field goal in the first section of the second overtime. All-AAC K Zack Long for Tulsa would then miss a 43-yarder as it hooked left to give the Cowboys the home opening win after Wyoming lost at Illinois in Week 0. Here are some highlights from this game.

The third overtime thriller went the longest with Liberty outlasting Southern Miss in four extra periods. The Flames K

Kaidon Salter, Liberty’s third quarterback on the night, connected with Demario Douglas in the corner of the end zone for the two-point conversion in the fourth overtime to lift Liberty past Southern Mississippi on Saturday night in the season opener for both teams.

Liberty stuffed Southern Miss RB Frank Gore Jr. just outside the goal line to end it.

Each team missed field goal attempts in the first overtime periods. Liberty’s Nick Brown kicked a 26-yard field goal in the third overtime while Briggs Bourgeois answered with a 53-yarder for Southern Miss.

Salter lofted a 10-yard touchdown pass to Douglas in the corner of the end zone that tied it 17-17 with 11:30 remaining. Salter was picked off on the Flames’ next possession that led to Gore’s 5-yard TD run. But Salter answered with a a 23-yard touchdown strike to Douglas with with 36 seconds remaining in regulation.

Salter replaced backup quarterback Jonathan Bennett early in the fourth quarter.

Here are some highlights of this game:

King Goes Down

The past two years, the best team in the Group of Five ranks has been Cincinnati. Both seasons, the Bearcats represented the G5 in a New Year’s Six Bowl game including the College Football Playoff a year ago. The Bearcats opened this 2022 season on the road at Top 20 ranked Arkansas but fell 31-24.

But the Bearcats had their chances to extend what had been the nation’s longest regular season winning streak in all of FBS.

Cincinnati QB Ben Bryant, a transfer from Eastern Michigan this year after starting originally with the Bearcats, ultimately threw for 325 yards and two touchdowns, but threw a key interception when the Bearcats were in scoring range in the first half.

The pick was one of several mistakes the Bearcats made on the day. Four of Cincinnati’s first-half drives ended in Arkansas territory, but the interception halted one and Ryan Coe missed two field goals, including one from 25 yards, as well.

Cincinnati had pulled within a touchdown on Bryant’s throw to Nick Mardner halfway through the third quarter and then recovered a Jefferson fumble inside his own 10 on the ensuing play. The Bearcats started three yards from the end zone, but four penalties later, including two for delay of game, they managed just a 25-yard field goal.

Cincinnati showed it was able to rebuild its talent pool but game experience will be needed to get this group back to the elite level of the G5 in their last season before moving to the Big 12.

Here are some highlights of this game:

Coastal bests Army

If the two Houston-UTSA game was the top G5 game, this Coastal Carolina-Army game in Conway, S.C. was at least the second best. The Chanticleers QB Grayson McCall threw for three touchdowns and added a rushing score with 3:01 remaining to seal the Coastal win at 38-28.

Army used a 53-second drive to pull within 31-28 after Cade Ballard found Braheam Murphy wide open for a 73-yard score. But McCall led a 10-play, 75-yard scoring drive, capped by his 5-yard sneak up the middle.

CCU forced a four-and-out and took over with 1:36 left to ice the game.

McCall was 12 of 17 for 174 yards. Reese White led the Chanticleers on the ground with 21 carries for 133 yards and a touchdown. CJ Beasley added 91 yards on 19 carries.

Here are some highlights from this game:

Grand Entrance

James Madison is still in the transitioning year this year from moving up from the FCS ranks but are playing a full Sun Belt schedule. The two-time FCS national titlist showed there may not be much difference from the top of FCS to the Group of Five ranks.

Graduate transfer QB Todd Centeio threw six touchdown passes to tie James Madison’s single-game record and the Dukes made a sparkling debut at the FCS level with a 44-7 win over Middle Tennessee.

The Dukes were never challenged, piling up 548 yards of offense and holding the Blue Raiders to 119, just 12 on the ground.

Centeio was 21 of 33 for 287 yards and ran for 110 yards on 14 carries, helping James Madison to its 20th-straight home opening winning.

Kris Thornton had 12 receptions for 155 yards, hauling in three straight touchdowns, covering 7, 35 and 19 yards. That came after Reggie Brown had touchdown receptions of 20 and 29 yards to start the scoring.

Here are some highlights of this game:

Carolina Blues

East Carolina and Appalachian State each hosted ACC foes of NC State and North Carolina this first weekend. Unfortunately for these two North Carolina G5 squads, each narrowly lost to their in-state Power Five foes.

East Carolina looked to tie the game late in the fourth quarter but K Owen Daffer missed an extra point to keep NC State with a 21-20 lead. But the Pirates would get the ball back with a chance at redemption for Daffer.

The Pirates drove to the 34-yard line to set-up a last second field goal attempt for Daffer but his kick sailed wide to preserve the one-point win for the AP Top 25 Wolfpack. Here are some highlights for this game:

On the other side of the state, Appalachian State hosted the Tar Heels and this was one of the wildest games in recent memory.

North Carolina’s offense needed 63 points to get out of Boone with a narrow 63-61 win over the Mountaineers in a game that Appalachian State was centimeters away from winning. App State scored 40 points in the fourth quarter to turn what had been a comfortable 20-point lead into a nail-biter late.

App State had the upper hand early on, racing out to a 21-7 lead in the first half. Carolina responded in a big way with three touchdowns in the second quarter before allowing one more touchdown to make it a 28-21 game at halftime. Thirteen points for Carolina in the third quarter while keeping the Mountaineers off the scoreboard put some healthy distance between the two teams before the final frame fireworks.

The Mountaineers got the ball back with 38 seconds left on the clock and scored to bring themselves a PAT away from tying the game and sending it to overtime. App State decided to go for two instead of the tie. Chase Brice had Deshaun Davis wide open, but the quarterback just overthrew it and the ball sailed above Davis’ grasp.

Somehow, none of the coaches on the UNC sideline told the hands team to fall on the ball on the onside kick attempt. Carolina recovered it…and took it in for a touchdown. That should have been a good thing, but this game was determined to cause emotional and physical pain. The defense had no answers — again — and the Mountaineers were able to pull to within two. Their attempt at the two-point conversion was, once again, no good, and the Tar Heels escaped. Here are some highlights of this wild game:

Narrow FCS Game Escapes

While Navy lost to Delaware and Charlotte lost to William & Mary of the FCS ranks, three other G5 schools just got by their FCS foes to notch Week 1 wins.

Akron and Florida International needed overtime periods to notch their wins over St. Francis (PA) and Bryant respectively.

San Jose State did not need overtime but did need a late fourth quarter touchdown to get its FCS win over Portland State.

Here are highlights of these three games below:

Top 5 Games of the Week

And with that here are my top five games outside of what I showed above. The best had to Old Dominion picking up the home win over in-state ACC foe Virginia Tech Thursday with lone G5 win over a P5 squad this week.

Nevada became the first G5 squad to be 2-0, while BYU showed why it should be a Top 25 overall team. Ohio and FAU game was another classic, while SMU showed it will be a force in the AAC race.

Here are highlights of these games with game recaps in the hyperlink.