Highlights: CSJ FBS Group of Five Top Five Games and Recap of Week 11

The University of Texas at San Antonio Roadrunners defeat the University of Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles 27-17 at the Alamodome (Photo by Jeff Huehn/UTSA Athletics).

Can we get some more love for UTSA?  The Roadrunners are now just one of three FBS teams with an unblemished record.  UTSA joins Cincinnati and Georgia as the lone undefeated teams. 

The Roadrunners forced three turnovers in the fourth quarter to help UTSA outlast Southern Miss 27-17 in Conference USA play. 

UTSA used the key takeaways to help break a 17-17 tie after three quarters and run its record to 10-0 overall and 6-0 in the league. The Roadrunners came up with a pair of fumble recoveries and an interception in the final six minutes and 39 seconds to help seal their program-record eighth straight home win and push their school-record winning streak to double figures.

Trevor Harmanson forced a fumble on Golden Eagles QB Antavio Willis that was recovered by Jahmal Sam at the Southern Miss 33-yard line to help set up K Hunter Duplessis for a 24-yard field goal with 4:39 left that gave UTSA the lead for good at 20-17.

On Southern Miss’ next possession deep in its own territory, Corey Mayfield Jr. stripped the ball loose from Willis and Charles Wiley scooped it up and returned it to the 9-yard line. On the next play, RB Sincere McCormick pounded his way into the end zone to help provide the final 10-point margin.

Here are some highlights of this game:

UTSA plays UAB next week and then finishes its C-USA schedule the following week at North Texas.   The game next week will decide the C-USA West Division with the winner having the inside track to then host the conference title game with Western Kentucky right now being the likely opponent. 

The Roadrunners last week moved to the #23 position in the College Football Playoff rankings and should move up more this week.  UTSA’s top wins this year include wins at Illinois and at Memphis. 

Here are the full Top 25 rankings by the CFP committee.  Cincinnati, BYU and San Diego State are the other G5 teams in the rankings. 

Cincinnati as the other undefeated G5 team is ranked #5 in the latest rankings and should stay at this position this week after the Bearcats defeated USF on the road.  The Bearcats were also helped in the rankings after the fourth undefeated FBS team in Oklahoma lost at Baylor.  It is also helped with Notre Dame continuing to win after the Fighting Irish defeated Virginia on the road. 

As for Cincinnati’s game this week on Friday, the Bearcats handled USF 45-28. 

Cincinnati churned out 202 yards on the ground without leading RB Jerome Ford, and totaled 506 yards. But for the second straight game, Cincy’s veteran defense did not shut the door in the second half with a large lead.

This time Cincinnati gave up 14 points in the third quarter and 21 in the second half to a Bulls offense that is showing improved signs of life with freshman QB Timmy McClain of late.

See highlights of this game below:

BYU was off this week and play at Georgia Southern next week before finishing their season at the Pac 12’s USC to finish the season.  The Cougars are still in play possibly for a New Year’s Six Bowl game if teams ahead of them in the rankings could lose and BYU wins out. 

San Diego State continued its cardiac winning ways this week with a 23-21 home win over Nevada this week.  The Aztecs used a K Matt Araiza 35-yard field goal with 1:21 to play to help San Diego State get the win. 

San Diego State took sole possession of first place in the Mountain West West Division, a half-game ahead of Fresno State — which beat the Aztecs 30-20 on Oct. 30 — and a full game in front of Nevada.

RB Greg Bell ran for 104 yards, while WR Romeo Doubs finished with nine catches for 127 yards to lead SDSU. 

With the lose to Fresno State though, the Bulldogs would have the tie-breaker so SDSU will have to win out with games at UNLV and home with Boise State to win the MWC West or hope for another Fresno State loss.  Fresno State has a bye this upcoming week and then travels to San Jose State to finish their season. 

See highlights of the SDSU-Nevada game below.

Other Group of Five Conference and Divisional races

Here are the full standings for all the leagues.  Louisiana has already won the Sun Belt West Division and will host the title game.  Appalachian State leads the SBC East Division currently and with one more win will clinch the division with one more win in its last two contests (at Troy and hosting Georgia Southern). 

Cincinnati and Houston look destined to play each other in the AAC title game as both are undefeated in league play.  But Cincinnati has to beat SMU next week to ensure this match-up.  Houston has already clinched a spot in the game.  If both win out, the game would be in Cincinnati, while if Cincinnati falls in one of the two games, the game would be in Houston. 

C-USA as mentioned earlier will have its West champion decided this upcoming week with the UAB-UTSA game.  The East Division champion will be Western Kentucky if it wins out but could be overtaken by Marshall in those two team’s final regular season meeting. 

The MAC has Northern Illinois leading the West Division currently by a game and will ensure its spot in the title game with two wins over Buffalo and Western Michigan.  But a loss by the Huskies in both of those contests could lead to Central Michigan winning the division if the Chippewas win out over Ball State and Eastern Michigan.  The East Division looks like it will be decided in the last weekend’s contest between the two teams tied atop of the division in Kent State and Miami.  Of course, both also play this week so that could lead to some further drama.  Kent State plays at Akron, while Miami hoss Bowling Green this upcoming week.

The Mountain West was discussed above on the West Division likely going to San Diego State unless the Aztecs fall in one of its last two games that could lead to Fresno State taking the division.  The Mountain Division has Utah State leading right now and has the inside track to winning the division as the Aggies host Wyoming and travel to New Mexico to finish their schedule. 

Of course, one loss was to Boise State so if the Aggies would fall in one of its last two games and Broncos win out, BSU would get the division if those two are tied.  Air Force is also in the running as the Falcons defeated Boise State earlier but lost to Utah State.  The Falcons have a road game at Nevada this week before ending their season at home with UNLV.  A three-way tie between the three could happen and since their group records are 1-1 against the other two teams, this would cause a further tie-breaker to decide the divisional winner. 

Conference Realignment

The end might be coming (at least for now).  The rumored Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky to the MAC change did not come true.  Those two will stay in Conference USA it looks like. 

Here are what the Group of Five leagues will look like in 2023. 

American

Subtractions: Central Florida, Cincinnati, Houston

Additions: Alabama-Birmingham, Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, North Texas, Rice, Texas-San Antonio

Future look: Alabama-Birmingham, Charlotte, East Carolina, Florida Atlantic, Memphis, Navy, North Texas, Rice, SMU, South Florida, Temple, Texas-San Antonio, Tulane, Tulsa

Conference USA

C-USA subtractions: Alabama-Birmingham, Florida Atlantic, Charlotte, Marshall, North Texas, Old Dominion, Rice, Southern Miss, Texas-San Antonio.

C-USA additions: Jacksonville State, Liberty, New Mexico State, Sam Houston

C-USA future look: Florida International, Jacksonville State, Liberty, Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee, New Mexico State, Sam Houston, UTEP, Western Kentucky

Sun Belt

Sun Belt subtractions: none

Sun Belt additions: James Madison, Southern Miss, Old Dominion, Marshall

Sun Belt future look: Appalachian State, Arkansas State, Coastal Carolina, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, James Madison, Louisiana, Louisiana-Monroe, Marshall, Old Dominion, South Alabama, Southern Miss, Texas State, Troy

MAC

Subtractions: none

Additions: none

Future look: Akron, Ball State, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Kent State, Miami (Ohio), Northern Illinois, Ohio, Toledo, Western Michigan

Mountain West

Subtractions: none

Additions: none

Future look: Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State, Fresno State, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, San Diego State, San Jose State, UNLV, Utah State, Wyoming

G5 Independents

Subtractions: BYU, New Mexico State, Liberty

Additions: none

Future look: Army, UConn, UMass

Top 5 Games of the Week

Outside of the games above, below are some highlights of the other top games of the week. Here are my top five with an additional game.

1. Tulsa 20 Tulane 13 (OT) (New Orleans, La.)

2. East Carolina 30 Memphis 29 (OT) (Memphis, Tenn.)

3. UAB 21 Marshall 14 (Huntington, W. Va)

4. Northern Illinois 30 Ball State 29 (Dekalb, Ill.)

5. Western Michigan 45 Akron 40 (Mount Pleasant, Mich.)

BONUS: Georgia State 42 Coastal Carolina 40 (Conway, S.C.)

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