The biggest game of Week 11 had to be UCF traveling to Tulane. Those two schools were the only ones within the Group of Five currently ranked in the College Football Playoff’s Top 25 so the winner likely will have the inside track towards the G5’s New Year’s Six Bowl bid.
UCF QB John Rhys Plumlee accounted for 308 yards and three touchdowns, and UCF also took over first place in the American Athletic Conference with a 38-31 victory.
Returning from an Oct. 29 concussion against Cincinnati, Plumlee rushed for 176 yards and two TDs. He also passed for 132 yards and a score as UCF surpassed 400 yards of offense for the eighth time this season.
Tulane (8-2, 5-1) pulled within a touchdown with 11:39 left when QB Michael Pratt hit WR Reggie Brown in the back of the end zone to cap a drive sustained by Pratt’s fourth-and-6 conversion on a pass to Lawrence Keys.
But the Knights responded with a 16-play, 75-yard scoring drive that consumed 8:07 and was sustained by a fourth-down pass interference penalty on Tulane’s Jarius Monroe on RB Isaiah Bowser’s pass intended for Plumlee along the sideline. Bowser finished it off with his second short touchdown run of the game to make it 38-24 with 3:32 left.
Tulane drove for one final score on Pratt’s 6-yard pass to Shae Wyatt with 1:46 left, but the Green Wave’s onside kick was recovered by UCF, which didn’t punt the ball back until the final seconds.
UCF has the inside track to host the AAC Championship game and very well could be a rematch with Tulane if both should win their remaining games. UCF hosted Navy next week and then travels to rival USF to finish its regular season. Tulane has possibly a tougher road though as the Green Wave host SMU this Thursday and finishes the season at prior champion and currently third placed within the AAC Cincinnati.
See highlights of this game below:
Give Me Liberty, No
Liberty was on the outside of the CFP rankings for some reason but still had a Top 25 AP Poll ranking. In my opinion, the Flames should have been included in the last CFP Poll especially after its last two wins at home over BYU and then a road win at the SEC’s Arkansas.
This week, Liberty traveled to another current FBS Independent in Connecticut. Before the season started, this looked like a game that Liberty would breeze through in the hopes to get to a higher profile bowl game.
But looks can be deceiving.
UConn sat at five wins coming into this game and while this seemed like a loss, a win next week at Army would make the Huskies bowl eligible for the first time since 2015.
The Huskies thought it would be better to just get that sixth win at home instead of waiting until next week.
Trailing by five points late, UConn scored a go-ahead touchdown with 5:43 left when QB Zion Turner connected with WR Kevens Clercius on a 30-yard touchdown pass. The Huskies converted a two-point conversion and held on for the 36-33 victory.
The Flames got their second loss but still should be in a good position for a good bowl game as it has two home games against the ACC’s Virginia Tech and fellow independent and future Conference USA foe New Mexico State left on its schedule so a ten-win season is still in play for the Flames.
See highlights of this game below:
Mountain West Muddle
Below is a look at the current standings after Week 11.
|San José State||4-2||.667||6-3||.667||L1|
|San Diego State||4-2||.667||6-4||.600||W2|
The road to the MWC title game has a lot of scenarios. Boise State is the lone undefeated team in league play left and they play at second place Wyoming next week. So the winner of that game will have the inside track on the Mountain Division. But Utah State is not out of this yet as if it defeats San Jose State next week and Wyoming defeats Boise next but then losses its finale at Fresno State, we very well could have a three way tie should Utah State defeat Boise State in that finale.
In the West Division, Fresno State has the inside track even if they slip a game as the Bulldogs have already defeated the two teams tied for second in the other two California schools in San Jose State and San Diego State. And the Bulldogs have what seems to be the easier schedule in its last two games with a road game at Nevada and a home contest with Wyoming as it would take two losses to get them out of the MWC title game. SJSU travels to Utah State before hosting Hawai’i to end its season, while San Diego State travels to New Mexico before hosting Air Force to end the season.
While a Boise State-Fresno State title game looks like the best odds, there have been upsets abound in this league so I will take nothing for granted.
Other G5 Conference Races
In Conference USA, UTSA has already clinched a spot in the conference title game. The Roadrunners are the lone undefeated team in CUSA play and could win the regualar season title and home field for the conference title game with just one win in its last two games against Rice or UTEP.
But who they will play is still up in the air as three two-loss teams sit behind them right now in Western Kentucky, North Texas, and Florida Atlantic. WKU and FAU play each other in two weeks and could be a defacto title game but would need UNT to loss to Rice in the same week for that to happen. UNT has defeated both WKU and FAU so the Mean Green have the inside track to have an all-Texas C-USA title game.
In the Mid-America Conference, Toledo has clinched the West Division already so they will be heading to Detroit. But who the Rockets will play from the East Division is still in question. Ohio leads the division by a game over Buffalo and Bowling Green right now. The Bobcats defeated the Bulls earlier this year but still need to play the Falcons in the last regular season game so it is likely this race will not be decided until then.
In the Sun Belt Conference, Coastal Carolina has already clinched the conference title spot but has not clinched the East Division as of yet. FCS transitioning James Madison, who is not eligible for postseason play in this transitional season, could tie the Chanticleers for the East Division crown should the Dukes win next week at home over Georgia State and then in the final game also at home over Coastal.
In the SBC West Division, Troy and South Alabama are tied atop of the standings but the Trojans have the tie break as Troy defeated the Jaguars earlier this season. So USA would need defeat both over Southern Miss and Old Dominion and have Troy would need to lose one of its last games against ULM and Arkansas State. Or of course, if Troy would lose both games, USA could win one of the two for the division crown.
In order for an FBS team to officially become bowl-eligible, it needs at least six wins with a minimum winning percentage of .500. A total of 82 teams are needed to fill all 41 bowl games. Teams can only count one win against an FCS opponent toward the total number of wins needed for bowl eligibility.
Following the Week 10 games, there are officially 51 bowl-eligible teams with 31 slots still open. Of the 51 schools, 16 G5 teams are eligible.
Below is a look at all FBS schools that are bowl eligible currently with the G5 squads in bold.
|AAC||4||Cincinnati, East Carolina, Tulane, UCF|
|ACC||8||Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Louisville, NC State, North Carolina, Syracuse, Wake Forest|
|Big 12||6||Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Texas, TCU|
|Big Ten||6||Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio State, Penn State|
|C-USA||2||North Texas, UTSA|
|Indp.||2||Liberty, Notre Dame|
|MWC||4||Air Force, Boise State, San Jose State, Wyoming|
|Pac-12||6||Oregon, Oregon State, UCLA, Utah, USC, Washington|
|SEC||8||Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Tennessee|
|Sun Belt||3||Coastal Carolina, South Alabama, Troy|
TOP 10 GAMES
I normally do just my Top 5 in this segment but there were several great games that came down to the end that I added five more this week. Here are my top ten games in the G5 outside of what I showed above. The top two this week were the conference division winning wins for Toledo and Coastal Carolina to ensure both team’s place in their conference title games and my third was Cincinnati holding on for a last minute win to keep its AAC Conference title game hopes.
1. COASTAL CAROLINA 26 SOUTHERN MISS 23 (CONWAY, S.C.)
2. TOLEDO 28 BALL STATE 21 (TOLEDO, Ohio)
3. CINCINNATI 27 EAST CAROLINA 25 (CINCINNATI, Ohio)
4. TROY 10 ARMY 9 (TROY, Ala.)
5. WYOMING 14 COLORADO STATE 13 (FORT COLLINS, Colo.)
6. ULM 31 GEORGIA STATE 28 (ATLANTA, Ga.)
7. NORTHERN ILLINOIS 24 WESTERN MICHIGAN 21 (KALAMAZOO, Mich.)
8. CENTRAL MICHIGAN 31 BUFFALO 27 (MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich.)
9. HOUSTON 43 TEMPLE 36 (HOUSTON, Tex.)
10. FRESNO STATE 37 UNLV 30 (LAS VEGAS, Nev.)
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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