Highlights: CSJ FBS Group of Five Top Five Games and Recap of Week 8

The Brigham Young Cougars celebrate near the end of NCAA football against the Boise State Broncos in Provo on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. Ravell Call, Deseret News

Down goes #1.  Just one week after capturing the top spot in the Sagarin rankings amongst the Group of Five teams, Boise State fell this week at BYU.  That loss puts the list of undefeated Group of Five teams down to just two in SMU and Appalachian State.  Both SMU and App State breezed to home conference victories this week with the Mustangs handling Temple and the Mountaineers took down Louisiana-Monroe.

UCF was ranked second in the most recent Sagarin rankings but with two losses, the Knights are not likely to get the top G5 spot unless there is a lot of upheaval with the undefeated and one-loss teams.

Cincinnati, San Diego State, and Memphis are three of those one-loss teams that may have a chance and both picked up big wins yesterday and right now look like the three next best chances outside of the two remaining undefeated teams.

I will go over each Group of Five conference action below and add my Top 5 games of the week as well.

American Atheletic Conference

As mentioned, SMU remained undefeated with its home victory over Temple.  QB Shane Buechele set career highs with six touchdown passes and 457 passing yards as No. 19 SMU improved to 7-0 for the first time since 1982 (when the Mustangs opened up 10-0) with a 45-21 win over Temple.  WR Reggie Roberson Jr. had a career-high 250 receiving yards on seven catches, including touchdowns of 75, 75 and 33 yards.  The seven-game winning streak is their longest since winning eight straight during the 1984-85 seasons.

Memhis QB Brady White threw five touchdown passes and WRKenneth Gainwell scored three touchdowns and combined for 307 yards of offense as the Tigers beat Tulane 47-17, Gainwell is the first player for Memphis  and the first in the FBS to have 200 yards receiving and 100 yards rushing in a game since Troy Edwards of Louisiana Tech in 1997. Gainwell finished with nine receptions for 203 yards and two touchdowns, and carried the ball 18 times for 104 yards and a touchdown. White was 21-of-29 passing for 358 yards.

Cincinnati held on for a 24-13 victory at Tulsa after losing its top RB Michael Warren II, who left the game twice with leg injuries.  The injury paved the way for his back-up Gerrid Doaks to shine as he ran for a pair of touchdowns and turned a short pass into a 28-yard score as well.  Tulsa had a chance to take the lead after stopping Cincinnati on a fourth-down run at its 10-yard line with 4:11 to go and the Bearcats up 17-13, but Golden Hurricane QB Zach Smith threw an interception. Doaks then ran  for the clinching score.

The Navy defense backed another dominant performance on the ground by QB Malcolm Perry in its 35-3 victory over South Florida.  Perry finished with 188 yards on 22 carries with a pair of touchdowns. He surpassed more than 3,000 career yards rushing in his career, joining Keenan Reynolds, Napoleon McCallum and Chris McCoy as the only Navy players to accomplish that feat. The Midshipmen have a three-game winning streak for the first time since 2017 when they won five straight to start the year.

UCF QB  Dillon Gabriel threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score as the Knights beat ECU 41-28.  Gabriel had a career-high 365 yards passing for the Knights, who got off to a hot start with 35 points in the first half. WR Gabriel Davis caught two touchdown passes and had 164 yards receiving and RB Otis Anderson ran for 80 yards on 18 carries to also lead the Knights offense.

In the tightest game in the AAC,  Houston held off UConn 24-17 as freshman QB Logan Holgorsen threw for 123 yards and a touchdown in his first start.  Holgorsen, the son of Coach Dana Holgorsen, had just 37 yards passing before finding Jeremy Singleton wide open down the left sideline for 58-yards and a third-quarter touchdown that put the Cougars. A 2-yard run from Bryson Smith earlier in the fourth quarter put Houston up by two scores.  Houston let one UConn score with under two minutes to go but the unsides kick was recovered by the Cougars to end the threat.

Conference USA

The biggest match-up this week in C-USA was Friday night’s Marshall – Florida Atlantic match-up as well as Louisiana Tech hosting Southern Miss.

The Thundering Herd’s RB Brenden Knox scored the go-ahead touchdown with 36 seconds left in the fourth quarter and Marshall beat Florida Atlantic 36-31.  Knox finished with 23 carries for 220 yards and two touchdowns for the Thundering Herd. His game-winning 17-yard TD run capped a 10-play, 77-yard drive and was the fourth lead change of the fourth quarter.

Louisiana Tech defeated Southern Miss in the 51st rendition of the Rivalry in Dixie as the Bulldogs’ defense stymied the Golden Eagles in the second half to win 45-30.  The USM offense rolled into Saturday’s game as one of the nation’s most explosive units, but it hit a wall in the final two quarters with three costly turnovers — all interceptions thrown by USM QB Jack Abraham.  DB Amik Robertson gave Louisiana Tech the big game game with three total intercetions.  The win broke a Bulldog four-game losing streak to USM.

UAB True freshman RB Jermaine Brown ran for 116 yards and a score, QB Tyler Johnston III threw two touchdowns to easily defeat Old Dominion 38-14 win on Saturday.  The win put the Blazers as bowl eligible with its sixth win and it was the 16th straight victory at home.  UAB is a half game behind in the C-USA West standings behind Louisiana Tech.

Texas-San Antonio QB Lowell Narcisse found WR  Zakhari Franklin behind his coverage for an 8-yard touchdown pass with just over five minutes left to lift the Roadrunners ahead 31-27 of Rice and the UTSA defense held the Owls over the last minuntes.  The loss kept Rice winless on the season and UTSA now has beaten Rice five straight times and holds a 5-3 record all-time over the Owls.

North Texas QB Mason Fine led the game-winning drive that was capped by PK Ethan Mooney’s 22-yard field goal as time expired to give the Mean Green the win over Middle Tennessee 33-30.  The Blue Raiders tied the game at 30-all with 28 seconds left but on the ensuing kickoff, Deion Hair-Griffin returned it 50 yards to get the Mean Green to the MTSU 44 yard line. Fine completed three passes to set Mooney at the 7 for the easy game winner.

FIU RB Anthony Jones ran for 102 yards with a touchdown and caught one pass for 61 yards to help the Panthers beat UTEP 32-17.  The Panthers trailed 7-3 after the first quarter but scored 15 second-quarter points on a touchdown, two field goals and a safety to take the lead for good.

Western Kentucky QB  Ty Storey passed for 283 yards and two touchdowns and the Hilltoppers scored the final 16 points to pull away from Charlotte 30-14.  WR Lucky Jackson also caught five passes for 141 yards and a touchdown for the Hilltoppers.

Mid-American Conference

The MAC has been the most topsy turvy league of all the G5 conferences.  Toledo and Ohio were the two teams picked to win their respective divisions.  Ohio is tied atop the East Division with two others in Miami and the real upstart in Kent State.  In the West Division, Ball State sits alone as the only undefeated MAC play.  Central Michigan is a half game back.

Toldeo is the big loser as it has lost two games in a row including losing to Ball State 52-14 on he road.  The Cardinal suffocating defensive performance kept the Rockets at bay. Toledo’s first-half numbers looked like this: 33 plays for 22 yards, minus-2 yards rushing, four sacks allowed, two fumbles lost, six consecutive punts and zero points.  The Cardinals offense hit big play after big play to convert the team’s third straight win. Four of the Cardinals touchdowns came from more than 35 yards out, two of them via WR Malik Dunner. The converted running back took a double reverse 51 yards for one score and a jet sweep 39 yards for another.

Ohio racked up a season-high 571 yards of total offense, with QB Nathan Rourke recording his first career game with at least 300 passing yards in the Bobcats 45-38 shootout win over  Kent State. Rourke has now been responsible for at least four touchdowns in a single game 10 times in his career and extended his school record for career touchdowns responsible for to 94.

Central Michigan RB Jonathan Ward ran for 130 yards and a career-high three touchdowns, and RB Kobe Lewis added 125 yards and one score as the Chippewas defeated Bowling Green, 38-20.  The Chippewas snapped a nine-game road losing streak, winning for the first time since Nov. 14, 2017.  CMU also won its third game in a row to be right in the mix of the MAC West race.

Miami  put things together over the final three quarters after starting slow in the first quarter to retain the Mallory Cup with a 27-24 victory over Northern Illinois.  Freshman QBBrett Gabbert set a new career high with 273 yards passing. He finished 15-for-28 with one touchdown. His top target was redshirt sophomore wide receiver Jalen Walker, who recorded his first career 100-yard game with seven catches for 138 yards.

Buffalo produced one of its finest defensive efforts in recent history, shutting out Akron, 21-0. It was just the Bulls’ second ever road shutout against a MAC opponent since joining the conference in 1999.  The Bulls scored two defensive touchdowns, forced four turnovers, had 11 tackles for loss, five sacks and held the Zips to just three yards rushing.

Eastern Michigan earned a come-from-behind victory as senior WR Mathew Sexton collected his second game-winning touchdown of the season to clinch a 34-27 win over Western Michigan.  Trailing 27-26 with 1:51 left in regulation, the Eagles started what proved to be the game-deciding drive at their own 28-yard-line and six plays later, Sexton made the game winning grab.

Mountain West Conference

A spirited fourth quarter allowed Boise State to pull within 28-25 of BYU, but the Broncos ran out of time and absorbed their third loss in the past four visits to LaVell Edwards Stadium with that final score.  Bronco true freshman QB Hank Bachmeier starting the first six games but sat this game out and sophomore Chase Cord started in his place and struggled in  throwing for just 185 yards, two touchdowns, and a pair of interceptions.  For BYU, they were also starting a backup QB and third string at that in Baylor Romney, who was good in his first career start in throwing for 221 yards and two touchdowns. The Cougars snapped a three-game losing streak with their first victory over the Broncos since 2015.

San Diego State became bowl eligible for the 10th-consecutive season after the Aztecs 27-17 road victory over San Jose State.  The Aztecs are the only FBS program with a perfect 4-0 record on the road this season.  Kaegun Williams returned the opening kickoff 95 yards for a score. This was the Aztecs 11th kickoff return for a touchdown since 2015, the most in the FBS in that span.

For the third time in the last seven season, Utah State won its 10th consecutive home contest with its 36-10 win over Nevada. The 10-game home win streak is tied for fourth-longest in program history. Aggies junior KR Savon Scarverreturned a first quarter kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown, setting a program record for career kickoff return touchdowns with five. The five touchdowns are tied for second-most in Mountain West history.

Air Force racked up 353 rushing yards in its 56-26 thuming of Hawai’i on the road.  The Falcons’ back-up QB Mike Schmidt came off the bench to account for four touchdowns to head the win.  He relieved starter Donald Hammond III, who left the game midway through Air Force’s first possession after falling on his right (throwing) shoulder.

Wyoming QB Sean Chambers passed for a touchdown and ran for another and RB Xazavian Valladay added 187 yards and a score to lead Wyoming over New Mexico 23-10.

Fresno State RB Josh Hokit had two of his three touchdown runs in the fourth quarter to help the Bull dogs pull away from UNLV for a 56-27 win on Friday.  QB Jorge Reyna passed for 229 yards and a touchdown and ran for 47 yards and a TD for Fresno State.

Sun Belt Conference

Appalachian State QB Zac Thomas threw for 214 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another score to lead the Mountaineers remained undefeated with the win over Louisiana-Monroe 52-7.  RB Darrynton Evans added 177 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns to help Appalachian State extend the FBS third-longest winning streak to 12 games. Only Clemson (22) and Ohio State (13) have longer active streaks.

The most exiting game of the week in the Sun Belt was Georgia Southern taking out Coastal Carolina in three overtimes, 30-27. Junior RB Wesley Kennedy III ran 25 times for 129 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winning touchdowns in the third overtime to highlight the win for the Eagles.

Georgia State senior QB Dan Ellington passed for three touchdowns and WR Aubry Payne caught the go-ahead score midway through the fourth quarter to put the Panthers up over Army.  The Panthers defense held on the final drive to preserve the 28-21 victory ,

Louisiana rebounded from its home loss to App State last week with a 37-20 win at Arkansas State on Thursday night.  RB Raymond Calais ran eight times for 144 yards and fellow RB Elijah Mitchell ran 23 times for 109 yards to pace the Ragin’ Cajun offensive attack.

Troy QB Kaleb Barker connected with WR Kaylon Geiger for two touchdowns and the Trojans beat in-state rival South Alabama 37-13 on Wednesday night in the Battle for the Belt.

Texas State was the lone team with a bye this week.

G5 FBS Independents

As mentioned, BYU had the highlight of the independents with its win over previsously undefeated Boise State in the Mountain West recap.  And Army lost at Georgia State as mentioned in the Sun Belt recap.

The only other team in action was Liberty, which noticed its fifth win of the season over FCS Maine.  The Flames QB  Stephen Calvert threw for five touchdowns and passed the 10,000-yard passing mark for his career to win a shootout over the visting Black Bears 59-44.

Both UMass and New Mexico State were off this week.

Top 5 Games of the Week

Here are my top five games this week with video highlights of each and the full game recap in the hyperlink in the score.

1. Georgia Southern 30 Coastal Carolina 27 (3OT) (Statesboro, Ga.)

2. BYU 28 Boise State 25 (Provo, Utah)

3. North Texas 33 Middle Tennessee 30 (Denton, Tex.)

4. Eastern Michigan 34 Western Michigan 27 (Ypsilanti, Mich.)

5. Marshall 36 Florida Atlantic 31 (Boca Raton, Fla.)

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