Highlights: CSJ FBS Group of Five Top Five Games and Recap of Week 9

31,000 Appalachian State fans packed the ROCK on Wednesday night. Courtesy of Dave Mayo, High Country Press

Coming into Week 8 of the season, the Group of Five had five teams still undefeated.  That number changed to four this week in the first game of the week this past Wednesday.  Coastal Carolina lost in the regular season for the first time since 2019 when the Chanticleers lost at Appalachian State this past Wednesday night. 

The win is App State’s second over a ranked team in program history. The first came in one of the most famous upsets in college football history when App State — then an FCS team — beat Michigan 34-32 in 2007 after blocking a game-winning field goal attempt.

Chandler Staton made a 24-yard field goal as time expired to beat the Chanticleers. Appalachian State (5-2) got the ball back from Coastal with 3:53 to go and was able to run the clock down as it moved down the field. The game-winning drive helped make up for a red zone fumble on App State’s previous possession. The Mountaineers were driving for a go-ahead score with less than seven minutes left, but a fumbled handoff gave the ball back to Coastal.

See highlights of this game below:

Other Four Undefeated Teams Stay That Way

Unlike Coastal, the other four teams without a loss this season remained that way through Week 8. 

Cincinnati had a scare from Navy on the road.  The Bearcats actually led by 17 at one point, but victory wasn’t secure until CB Arquon Bush intercepted a pass with 25 seconds left to wrap up a 27-20 victory in Annapolis.

The Bearcats were not at their best, but they never looked like they were in danger until the final minute, when Navy QB Tai Lavatai’s 1-yard run made it a one-score game and the Midshipmen recovered an onside kick with 48 seconds left.

Navy did not do much with that final chance, though. Lavatai’s third-down pass was picked off by Bush near the Cincinnati 45.

The Bearcats were fortunate to lead by three after a mistake-filled first half, but they eventually snapped out of their offensive funk. Desmond Ridder threw for 176 yards and two touchdowns. See highlights of this game below:

San Diego State also had a scare on the road at Air Force this week as well.  The Aztecs raced out to a 20-0 lead that stayed this way until late in the third quarter.  Two Falcon touchdowns made it a one score game with just under four minutes to play. 

The Falcons did get the ball back with just over two minutes to play but were not able to convert a fourth down and SDSU was able to then run out the clock to secure their ninth straight win over Air Force. 

K Matt Araiza kicked two field goals and RBs Kaegun Williams and Chance Bell each ran for touchdowns to give the Aztecs the win with a 20-14 final. See highlights of this game below:

UTSA had the easiest win amongst the undefeated G5 squads this week.  The Roadrunners were also on the road this week but handled Louisiana Tech with relative ease in a 45-16 victory. 

UTSA QB Frank Harris threw two touchdown passes to WR Zakhari Franklin as two of the highlights in this game. 

Harris was 12 of 20 for 193 yards, with scoring passes of 75 and 10 yards to Franklin, to help the Roadrunners extend their school-record winning streak to eight games.

Franklin had five catches for 118 yards, and RB Sincere McCormick ran for 113 yards and three touchdowns. Dadrian Taylor returned an interception 51 yards for a score.

UTSA won for the first time in Ruston in six attempts dating to 2012. See highlights of this game below:

The fourth undefeated team in SMU was off this week. 

Here are the upcoming contests for the now remaining four undefeated teams this upcoming week:

  • Cincinnati – at Tulane
  • San Diego State – vs. Fresno State
  • SMU – at Houston
  • UTSA – at UTEP

Conference Realignment Big News

We knew this was coming.  After losing three schools to the Big 12 (Cincinnati, UCF, and Houston), the American Athletic Conference announced this week that it will be adding six schools.  All six are currently from Conference USA. 

The AAC first appeared to be heading west to grab Mountain West Conference schools (reportedly Air Force, Colorado State, Boise State, and San Diego State) but the those MWC decided it was best to stay where they are (at least for the time being. 

So the AAC looked to the larger market locations from C-USA to expand and go to 14 schools for football and other major sports. (Navy is a football only member, while Wichita State does not play football.)

The six schools the AAC grabbed are Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, North Texas, UTSA, and UAB.

That move left C-USA with eight members after the movements, which are expected to take place for the 2023 football season. 

This number was down to seven after Southern Miss accepted an invitation to the Sun Belt also this week.

It is expected it will go even lower with Marshall and Old Dominion also reportedly also getting bids to the Sun Belt.  FCS James Madison is the other school in question and appears JMU will also be added to the SBC. 

More conference movement is still expected as C-USA will need to add schools as if these reports come to fruition, the league would be down to just five full time members so the may be forced to look at current independent schools like Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Mexico State, and Liberty.  And possibly the league will look at FCS schools such as Sam Houston State, Tarleton State, and McNeese State. 

More news on the realignment will likely happen next week and throughout this year and into next. 

Top Five Games of the Week

Aside from the action above, the Group of Five had several close contests this week. Here are my Top Five games of the Week with three bonus selectios as there was just too many to narrow down that I had to include eight this week.

1. Houston 31 East Carolina 24 (OT) (Houston, Tex.)

2. Northern Illinois 39 Central Michigan 38 (Mount Pleasant, Mich.)

3. Rice 30 UAB 24 (Birmingham, Ala.)

http://uabblazermedia.com/2021/10/rice-uab-fb-2021/

4. Fresno State 34 Nevada 32 (Fresno, Calif.)

5. Utah State 26 Colorado State 24 (Logan, Utah)

BONUS 1: BYU 21 Washington State 19 (Pullman, Wash.)

BONUS 2: Louisiana 28 Arkansas State 27 (Jonesboro, Ark.)

BONUS 3: San Jose State 27 UNLV 20 (Las Vegas, Nev.)

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