Highlights: CSJ FBS Group of Five Top Five Games and Recap of Week 4

Bowling Green’s QB Matt McDonald & RB Taron Keith celebrate the win over Minnesota (Courtesy of BGSU Athletics)

The biggest news this week had to be the Power Five upset by Bowling Green over Minnesota. The Falcons came into the week at 1-2 with the lone win over FCS Murray State coming into this contest against the Big Ten’s Gophers. BGSU lost its two other contests to the SEC’s Tennessee and to the Sun Belt’s South Alabama this season.

The Falcons got their first win over an FBS opponent since defeating MAC rival Akron on Nov. 2, 2019. BGSU finished last season winless in the COVID-19 at 0-5. So overall, BGSU had lost 10 games in a row over three seasons before picking up the win a week ago over Murray State and now have won two games in a row with this win over Minnesota.

QB Matt McDonald rushed for two touchdowns as the Falcons (now 2-2) ended Minnesota’s 21-game non-conference win streak, the longest in the nation.

The Gophers drop to 2-2, with the other loss coming to Ohio State in the season opener. Minnesota had scored at least 30 points in each of the first three games of the season, before being held to 10 on Saturday against the Falcons.

The BGSU defense held Minnesota to just 241 total yards on the day, and the Falcons came up with a pair of fourth-quarter interceptions to seal the win.

McDonald was 19-of-35 for 170 yards through the air, and scored twice on the ground to help lead the Falcons to the win.

The Falcons have allowed just 20 points in the last two games – both wins – and only 42 points over the last three contests.

Here are full highlights from this game:

Iron Skillet Win for SMU

The other G5 win over a P5 squad happened in Fort Worth, Texas as SMU defeated TCU in the Iron Skillet rivalry.

Mustang QB Tanner Mordecai added to his nation-leading total in touchdown passes with four more and SMU overcame his three interceptions in a 42-34 victory over the Horned Frogs on Saturday.

RB Ulysses Bentley IV ran for 153 yards and a touchdown, while WR Danny Gray had 130 yards receiving, including a 68-yard catch-and-run for a score during a torrid start for both teams. RB Tre Siggers added 110 yards rushing as the Mustangs finished with 350 yards on the ground.

After last year’s Iron Skillet game was called off because of COVID-19 issues in TCU’s program, the Mustangs earned consecutive victories over the Horned Frogs for the first time since 1992-93. Here are some highlights of this game:

Near Misses of Power Five Upsets

While Bowling Green and SMU were the highlights this week, there were a couple of other games that were nearly upsets for the G5 over the P5.

Friday, Liberty came into the ACC’s Syracuse as the favorites after the Flames had defeated the Orange last season. But Liberty could not duplicate the win from a year ago as the Flames fell on a last second field goal by the Orange 24-21.

Georgia State led the SEC’s Auburn for nearly the whole game before giving up a touchdown in the last minute of the game to give the Tigers the lead and QB Darren Grainger threw an interception for a touchdown in the last minute to give Auburn the 34-24 lead.

Western Kentucky could not stop Indiana on a 3rd & 8 play in the last two-minutes of the game with the Hilltoppers trailing 33-31 and the Hoosiers picked up the win in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Undefeated Teams Left In the Group of Five

After Week Four of the season, there are nine Group of Five teams that remain undefeated. The group includes the following:

AAC

Cincinnati (3-0)

SMU (4-0)

C-USA

UTSA (4-0)

Mountain West

San Diego State (4-0)

Wyoming (4-0)

Sun Belt

Coastal Carolina (4-0)

South Alabama (4-0)

Independents

Army (4-0)

BYU (4-0)

MAC

None

Looking Ahead

Cincinnati, who was the top ranked G5 team last year, will get its toughest out-of-conference test this upcoming week when the Bearcats visit undefeated Notre Dame in possibly the biggest game this week in all of college football. The Bearcats were off this past week so will have two weeks to get ready for the Irish.

Notre Dame is coming off a neutral site victory in Chicago over the Big Ten’s Wisconsin where the Irish erupted for a big fourth quarter to win easily 41-13. The Irish trailed 13-10 early in the fourth quarter before scoring 31 straight points in the game’s final frame.

Should Cincinnati win this game and finish its AAC schedule unscathed, the Bearcats will have a big argument to be included in the College Football Playoff.

Right now, there are only two ACC teams that are undefeated (Boston College & Wake Forest) and one in the Pac 12 (Oregon). The SEC, Big Ten and Big 12 champions will undoubtedly get invites but the two other Power Five leagues very well could be shutout of the Final Four should they get at least one loss and have an undefeated G5 champion.

Conference Realignment

With Cincinnati, UCF, and Houston already leaving the AAC for the Power Five’s Big 12, the AAC is looking to be aggressive in getting replacements.

AAC Commissioner Mike Aresco told the Orlando Sentinel over this weekend.

AAC Commissioner Mike Aresco, Courtesy Brad Horrigan / Hartford Courant

“We do want to get back to either 10 or 12 [schools],” Aresco told the Orlando Sentinel on Friday. “We have some good candidates and we’re only dealing with candidates who have approached us — who have expressed an interest in us.”

When such a move could happen appears to be sooner rather than later.

“We want the timeline to be more compressed,” said Aresco. “We don’t want it to take months. We would rather have it take a few weeks.”

The list of schools was not detailed in this interview but Chris Vannini of The Athletic reported that two Mountain West teams in Colorado (Air Force & Colorado State) receiving the most attention.

CBS Sports’ Dennis Dobbs reported that two other Mountain West schools in Boise State and San Diego State might also be under consideration, along with C-USA’s UAB, Florida Atlantic, and UTSA.

Given these reports, the AAC likely in the course of the next few weeks will be looking to make their decision on expansion, which likely will cause ripple effects to the Mountain West and/or C-USA.

TOP FIVE GAMES OF THE WEEK

Outside of the Power Five wins, there were actually six wins that came down to the wire so here are my Top 5 (with a bonus sixth game) in games involving just G5 squads. Here is my list of these games. The link in the score is the game recap and below is the video highlights.

1. Appalachian State 31 Marshall 30 (Boone, N.C.)

2. Buffalo 35 Old Dominion 34 (Norfolk, Va.)

3. Wyoming 24 Connecticut 22 (East Hartford, Conn.)

4. UTSA 31 Memphis 28 (Memphis, Tenn.)

5. Central Michigan 31 Florida International (Mount Pleasant, Mich.)

BONUS: Fresno State 38 UNLV 30 (Fresno, Calif.)

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