Highlights: CSJ FBS Group of Five Top Five Games and Recap of Week 14

Memphis Coach Mike Norvell hoists the American Athletic Conference West Division trophy. (Courtesy of Memphis Athletics)

The final regular season week in the Group of Five had a number of fire works and many others that went as expected.

The four teams ranked in the College Football Playoff Top 25 were in action and all have found their way to their respective conference championship game.

The biggest game of the week was a match-up of the top two teams in these rankings when Memphis hosted Cincinnati.  Memphis needed a win to get to the American Athletic title game, while Cincinnati had already wrapped up a spot in the game.

Memphis used the running back combo of Kenneth Gainwell and Antonio Gibson, who combined for 162 of Memphis’ 199 yards rushing, to get a 34-24 victory at home in the Liberty Bowl Friday. Gibson secured the victory with a 29-yard touchdown run with just over three minutes remaining. The defense also did its job in the second half to secure a rematch between these two teams next week–again in the Liberty Bowl for the AAC crown.

The top challenger to the AAC champion for the New Year’s Six Cotton Bowl bid is Boise State, who escaped a road contest at Colorado State on Friday 31-24. The Broncos will host Hawai’i next week in the Mountain West Championship, which is also a rematch from an earlier game in the season.  Hawai’i had already wrapped up its division but late Saturday, it finished its regular season off well with an out-of-conference match with Army, 52-31.  The loss for Army ended its hopes at a bowl bid as it can not get get to the six win mark needed despite having one last contest in two weeks in the traditional last football game of the season against Navy.

Appalachian State still has an outside chance to go to Dallas as it likely will rank ahead of Cincinnati this week and would hope the Bearcats defeat Memphis and Boise State going down to Hawai’i.  Of course, the Mountaineers would also need to win the Sun Belt crown in another rematch from the regular season and from last year’s Sun Belt Conference championship game in Louisiana.  Appalachian State defeated Troy easily on the road 48-13  Friday to secure the home field advantage in this year’s game, while Louisiana also comes into this game after narrowly escaping at rival Louisiana-Monroe 31-30 Saturday in what will be one of the games of the week.

Florida Atlantic captured the Conference USA East Division title with wins in its final five conference games and nine of its last 10 overall, all by double-digits.  This included a 34-17 win at home this week over Southern Miss. UAB will make a return trip to the Conference USA title game following the Blazers escaping a road contest at North Texas 26-21.

The MAC already had Miami (OH) in the title game as the Redhawks had clinched the game last week.  Miami, however, comes into the game with a loss at Ball State Friday 41-27.  The Redhawks led 27-14 at the half but gave up 27 points in the second half in the loss.  Central Michigan will be their opponent following the Chippewas 49-7 blowout win at home over Toledo.  CMU is the most unlikely of the ten G5 title game as the Chippewas did not have an FBS win last year and was the preseason pick to finish last in the MAC West Division in the preseason media poll.

Group of Five Championship Game Schedule

DATETEAMSTIME(ET)/TV
Sat., Dec. 7MAC: Miami (OH) vs. Central Michigan12 p.m. ESPN2
Sat., Dec. 7Sun Belt: Louisiana vs. Appalachian State12 p.m. ESPN
Sat., Dec. 7C-USA: UAB vs. FAU1:30 p.m. CBS Sports
Sat., Dec. 7AAC: Cincinnati vs. Memphis3:30 p.m. ABC
Sat., Dec. 7MWC: Hawaii vs. Boise State4 p.m. ESPN

While these ten teams (and two more in Navy and Army) have one more game to play, the following is a list of all the bowl eligible teams:

American (7): Cincinnati, Memphis, Navy, SMU, Temple, Tulane, UCF
C-USA (8): Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, FIU, Louisiana Tech, Marshall, Southern Miss, UAB, Western Kentucky
MAC (8): Buffalo, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Kent State, Miami (OH), Ohio, Toledo, Western Michigan
Sun Belt (5): Appalachian State, Arkansas State, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Louisiana
Independent (2): BYU, Liberty

There are a total of 79 FBS teams that are bowl eligbile for the 39 bowls (78 teams) so one of these teams will not get a bowl bid and should come from one of the six-win teams (Tulane, FIU, Toledo, Kent State, Eastern Michigan, or Ohio).   The bowl match-up announcements will happen next weekend.

Again the bowl ties for each of the G5 conferences are as follows (with the top G5 team getting the Cotton Bowl bid this year):

AAC

– Jared Birmingham Bowl vs. SEC
– Bad Boy Mowers Gasparillia Bowl vs. Conference USA
– Hawaii Bowl vs. BYU or Mountain West
– Military Bowl presented by Northrup Grumman vs. ACC
– Cheribundi Tart Cherry Bowl vs. Conference USA
– AutoNation Cure Bowl vs. Sun Belt
DXL Frisco Bowl vs. At-Large

The AAC has secondary partnerships with the AutoZone Liberty and Walk-On’s Independence, to fill if the main affiliations can’t fill their slots.

C-USA

– Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla vs. American Athletic
– Bahamas Bowl vs. MAC
– Gildan New Mexico Bowl vs. Mountain West
– R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl vs. Sun Belt
– SERVPRO First Responders Bowl vs. Big 12

Secondary Agreements
 Walk-On’s Independence Bowl
Conditional if ACC or SEC can’t fill a spot.

 DXL Frisco Bowl
Conditional if American Athletic or MAC can’t fill a spot.
OR Hawaii Bowl vs. BYU

MAC

– Cheribundi Tart Cherry Bowl vs. American Athletic
– Dollar General Bowl vs. Sun Belt
– Famous Idaho Potato Bowl vs. Mountain West
– Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl vs. Conference USA
– Raycom Media Camellia Bowl vs. Sun Belt

– Quick Lane Bowl
Conditional if ACC or Big Ten can’t fill a spot.

Mountain West

1. Las Vegas vs. Pac-12

– Famous Idaho Potato Bowl vs. MAC
– Gildan New Mexico Bowl vs. Conference USA
– Hawai’i Bowl vs. BYU or American Athletic
– Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl vs. Big Ten
– NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl vs. Sun Belt
– Cheez-It Bowl Conditional for MW if bowl can’t fill a spot.

Sun Belt

1.  R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl vs. Mountain West

– Dollar General Bowl vs. MAC
– Raycom Media Camellia Bowl vs. MAC
– AutoNation Cure Bowl vs. American Athletic
– NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl vs. Mountain West

G5 Independents

– Army, Liberty, New Mexico State, and UMass have no direct bowl ties or affiliations.

– BYU vs. American Athletic or Mountain West, Hawaii Bowl

Top 5 Games of the Week

1.  Louisiana 31 Louisina-Monroe 30 (Monroe, La.)

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2.  UNLV 33 Nevada 30 (OT) (Reno, Nev.)

3.  Western Kentucky 31 Middle Tennessee State 26 (Bowling Green, Ky.)

4.  Marshall 30 Florida International 27 (OT) (Huntington, W.Va.)

5. UAB 26 North Texas 21 (Denton, Tex.)

College Football Playoff Top 25 Group of Five Game Review

Memphis 34 Cincinnati 24 (Memphis, Tenn.)

Boise State 31 Colorado State 24 (Fort Collins, Col.)

Appalachian State 48 Troy 13 (Troy, Ala.)

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