Highlights: CSJ FBS Group of Five Top Five Games and Recap of Week 5

SMU K Chris Naggar (34) hits a 43-yard game-winning field goal in the final seconds of a win over Memphis at Ford Stadium in Dallas. (Smiley N. Pool/The Dallas Morning News)

It was upset week in the American Athletic Conference this week with two of the predicted contenders going down. Both UCF and Memphis took losses but the other contender now looks like the top pick in Cincinnati to win the league.

SMU won a see-saw contents over Memphis as the Mustangs hit a late field goal to win 30-27. It was Tulsa that put the shock into UCF with a late tfield goal and defensive stop to pull off the eight-point win.

Tulsa was the hard luck loser in their in-state battle against the Big 12’s Oklahoma State on Labor Day weekend and the Golden Hurricane had not played a game as it had a couple contests canceled or postponed due to COVID-19 reasons. But what Tulsa showed was the blueprint to beating the UCF offense–pressure the quarterback and have a top notch secondary to cover their explosive receivers.

The SMU-Memphis game was a little lighter scoring but rust did seem like an issue for Memphis, who like Tulsa had not played a game since Labor Day weekend itself. SMU lost one game earlier against TCU but their experience showed as it raced out to an early 24-3 lead and hung on at the end to pull off the upset over the Tigers. SMU is the first and only current 4-0 undefeated team in the country.

Both SMU and Tulsa showed that they might have a say in the AAC title contention this year.

Cincinnati was the lone top AAC contender to hold off the upset. The Bearcats defense was the highlight along with their special teams. Cincinnati intercepted South Florida five times and had a great kickoff return by Tre Tucker returned for a touchdown in a 28-7 victory.

Also Staying Perfect

BYU now looks like the best Group of Five team to me through Five Weeks. The Cougars manhandled Louisiana Tech 45-14. QB Zach Wilson continued his excellent play as he completed 24 of 26 passes for 325 yards and two touchdowns, and also ran for three additional scores.

BYU is 3-0 and not only has Wilson and the Cougar offense excelled. The BYU defense has been just as impressive. The Cougar defense has allowed 24 points in its first three games. It is the fewest points allowed by the Cougars in the first three games since 1951, when they gave up just 21 points.

And some good news in terms of scheduling happened this week for the Cougars as the Mountain West’s Boise State and San Diego State were added to the schedule and those two games will give BYU a strength of schedule it might need to capture the top Group of Five spot this year despite its independent schedule should the Cougars win those contests.

Speaking of the Mountain West

As mentioned with BYU, the full Mountain West schedule was announced this past week. Boise State and San Diego State will play non-conference games due to Air Force playing its two armed forces rivals of Army and Navy. This give all schools in the league a total of eight regular season games. Below is a list of the schedule as it sits (some contests may be moved to Thursday or Friday pending television coverage):

There will be no divisions this year and the two teams with the highest winning percentage will play at the one with the higher percentage hosting the Mountain West title game of Dec. 19th.

With the MWC announcement, the Mid-American Conference is the only FBS and Group of Five conference to announce its fall schedule. The MAC is scheduled to start its season on Nov. 4th and will play a 6-game schedule with its title game played either Dec. 18th or 19th.

Just Getting Started

As mentioned, Air Force was already scheduled to play its armed forces rivals and it hosted the first game of that series this week against Navy.

There was no telling what the Falcons would resemble on the field with a number of players taking military turnbacks (an option a cadet has to leave the academy for up to two semesters).

But sophomore QB Haaziq Daniels rushed for a score and K Tevye Schuettpelz-Rohl tied a school record with four field goals, while a reconstructed defense stuffed Navy for a 40-7 opening game win.

Florida Atlantic was another team that played its first game and was one of the best games of the week. The Owls. who are the defending Conference USA champions, had two games against Georgia Southern and South Florida postponed due to the pandemic to make this week’s game against Charlotte is opener.

QB Nick Tronti accounted for three touchdowns, to give new coach Willie Taggart his first win with the Owls 21-17 win over Charlotte. The FAU defense sealed the game at the end with a stop at its own 9-yard line as Charotte was driving for what would have been the game winning drive in the last minute of the contest.

Another Defensive Stop to End the Game

Georgia Southern’s Rashad Byrd had a tackle at the 1-yard line in the closing seconds, and Georgia Southern held on for a 35-30 win at Louisiana-Monroe.

RB J.D. King ran for a career-high 196 yards and a score to head the Eagles running attack, while fellow RB added Wesley Kennedy III had 64 yards rushing and two touchdowns to be the Georgia Southern offensive stars.

But it might have been the Eagle special teams that was the real star of the game. The Eagles’ NaJee Thompson had two blocked punts with one covered in the end zone for what was the last score for the Eagles.

Georgia Southern at that time led 35-17 and let the Warhawks get back into but was good at the end of the game to seal the game.

Coastal to 3-0

Coastal Carolina won a battle of Big 12 State of Kansas Sun Belt upset teams with its 52-23 victory over Arkansas State. The Chanticleers are now 3-0 including its win over Kansas, while Arkansas State on the same Sept. 12th date had a win over Kansas State. The 3-0 start is the program’s first start to the season in its FBS history and for the first time overall since 2015.

QB Grayson McCall was the offensive star for the Chanticleers as he threw for 322 yards and four touchdowns in the victory.

More COVID 19 Cancellations

Just like the first four weeks, there were more games canceled or postponed in the Group of Five due to COVID 19 reasons.

This week, there were two games called off or delayed. These include the following and another for next week inwhat was to be the preseason Sun Belt game of the week next Wednesday with the make-up date in t :

GameDateNew Date
Rice at MarshallOct. 3TBD
Troy at South AlabamaOct. 3TBD
Louisiana at Appalachian StateOct. 7Dec. 4 or 5

Top 5 Games of the Week

Below are my top five Group of Five games of the week with highlights and a full recap of the game in the hyperlink.

1. SMU 30 Memphis 27  (Dallas, Tex.)

2. Tulsa 34 UCF 26  (Orlando, Fla.)

3. Florida Atlantic 21 Charlotte 17 (Boca Raton, Fla.)

4. UAB 21 UTSA 13 (Birmingham, Ala.)

5. Georgia Southern 35 ULM 30  (Monroe, La.)

BONUS HIGHLIGHTS

BYU 45 Louisiana Tech 14 (Provo, Utah)

Cincinnati 28 South Florida 7 (Cincinnati, Ohio)

Western Kentucky 20 Middle Tennessee St. 17 (Murfreesboro, Tenn.)

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