Welcome to this week’s Good news bad new5 column. As a lot of you know, a lot of realignment talk took place last week involving Group of 5 conferences. I don’t know whether it constitutes good or bad news, but you can read my thoughts about it here. Now then, let’s get to the weekend that was in G5 play.

AAC
Good news: The Bulls got one!
The last team from the AAC to get a conference win was South Florida, who beat Temple 34-14 Saturday. They were competitive in losses to BYU and Tulsa, so one would think it was a matter of time before they got over the hump. But sitting at 2-5 with games remaining against Houston and Cincinnati, this may have been their bowl game.
Bad news: This ain’t the year for Tulane.
Tulane has had a brutal schedule to this point, having played Oklahoma, Ole Miss, Houston and SMU. This week they get Cincinnati in a game they need to win just to stay bowl eligible. Yikes. Those would be five losses for most teams in the country, so I don’t view this as an indictment on the Green Wave program or Willie Fritz has a coach. It’s just one of those years. The back half of the schedule does give them opportunities for wins, who could give them optimism headed into next year. So, you know, there is that.

CUSA
Good news: The Revolution will be televised.

It’s not until Nov. 6, but a lot pf people are pointing to the UTSA-UTEP game as the de facto CUSA title game. So much so that the start time was actually flexed to a 10:15 Eastern slot on ESPN2, typically a time reserved for Pac-12 After Dark. There is even a movement on Twitter to get ESPN College Game to go to El Paso. (A movement that is valid imo.) I had said before the season that the conference needed someone to be the flag bearer to get eyes on the good football that is being played there. Both these teams can stake that claim (to the point that UTSA parlayed their success into a new conference).
Bad news: UTEP has a game this weekend.
All the hype surrounding UTEP-UTSA can be derailed if the Miners lose a very difficult game this weekend at Florida Atlantic. FAU is 4-3 coming off 38-9 win over Charlotte, which included an absolutely dominant second half by the Owls. FAU can easily win this game and throw a huge wrench in the Miners plans.(By the way, it was a good weekend to be an Owl, as Rice in explicably got a 30-24 win at UAB.)

MAC
Good news: The cream has risen to the top.
Half the conference is sitting at 4-4 in the most average sounding sentence ever typed. However, one team is finally standing out above the mediocrity. Northern Illinois is bowl eligible at 6-2 after getting by Central Michigan by the skin of their teeth (because nothing is easy in the MAC). Not to get all existential, but there is a lot of uncertainty on a week-to-week basis so it is best to focus on what we know. The Huskies are undefeated in conference and going to bowl. But don’t be shocked if they end the season 6-6.
Bad news: Ohio is the anti-NIU.
There is one bowl eligible team. Conversely, there is one team that won’t be bowling. Ohio fell to MAC East leader Kent St. 34-27 Saturday. The Bobcats are trying hard, having lost each of their last three (all conference games) by less than a touchdown. Frank Solich resigning just prior to the start of the season has made a difference. There is very clearly talent, just not enough leadership to get over the hump. Expect this team to be much improved next year.

Mountain West
Good news: San Diego St. is still undefeated….for now
The Aztecs out-Air Forced Air Force Saturday, 20-14, improving their record to 7-0. While the nation’s leading rushing team did outgain SDSU on the ground, being held to 192 yards is pretty good all things considered. San Diego St. were able to rush for 157 yards on the ground themselves while controlling the time of possession. For a dominant defense like theirs, that’s a recipe for success. However, this weekend is a different matchup against Fresno St. If they can get past that, then we can have a real conversation about where an undefeated SDSU should be in the playoff picture.
Bad news: No offense, Wyoming
The Cowboys looked pretty awful in losing to Fresno St. 17-0 ten days ago. In that game, the offense accumulated 271 yards but five turnovers. This past weekend might have been even worse, as they travelled 255 yards and turned the ball over thrice in a 14-3 loss to New Mexico. The defense has been great but Sean Chambers is just not the answer at quarterback. He has barely completed half his attempts through the air and has more interceptions than touchdown passes. A team that got off to a 4-0 start may easily miss a bowl game.

Sun Belt
Good news: UL Monroe found a quarterback.
When starting quarterback (and offensive coordinator Rich’s son) Rhett Rodriguez was injured against Troy earlier in the season and the Warhawks were subsequently beaten by Coastal Carolina by 53, signs pointed to a long season in Monroe, Louisiana. But thanks to freshman Chandler Rogers, it may be long alright. As in, lasts until bowl season.
Rogers has improved every game since being thrust into duty, and UL Monroe has too as a result. Saturday, Rogers was 25-35 for 369 yards and 4 touchdowns as the Warhawks beat South Alabama 41-31. Sitting at 4-3 overall and 2-2 in the conference, catching Louisiana in the Sun Belt West division may be unrealistic, but I think they can find two wins to get bowl eligibility. (Umm….maybe LSU should be careful on Nov. 20.)
Bad news: From the penthouse to the outhouse.
A week ago, a real conversation was being had as to if Coastal Carolina had a case for a NY6 bowl or not. After their 30-27 loss to App State Thursday night, they are in a four-way tie in their division (of 5). Life moves at you fast. Now I don’t think this makes CCU a bad team by any means, and their schedule sets up nicely for them to run the table, but not having the division tiebreaker means that an 11-1 record could ultimately mean a nice trip to the New Orleans Bowl or whatever.

5 Games to keep an eye on: (BTW, I would absolutely take the underdogs in each of these games.)
1. SMU at Houston – The undefeated Group of 5 teams playing this weekend are in danger. This is the first game that may prove that.
2. UTEP at Florida Atlantic – This really feels like a weekend full of upsets. As mentioned, the Miners better not look ahead to next week when travelling to a hot FAU team.
3. UL Monroe at Appalachian St. – Speaking of hot teams, I present UL Monroe. App St. could let down after beating Coastal last week.
4. Fresno St. at San Diego St. – This is the second undefeated Group of Five team in danger.
5. Troy at Coastal Carolina – Trying to bounce back against arguably the toughest defense in the Sun Belt will be no easy task for the Chanticleers.

Top 10 Group of 5 teams:
1. Cincinnati (7-0)
 – A close call against Navy was probably a case of the Bearcats taking them lightly.
2. UTSA (8-0) – Apparently being ranked fueled the Roadrunners. They get a well-deserved bye week.
3. SMU (7-0) – The schedule has admittedly been pretty easy thus far. That changes this week at Houston.
4. San Diego St. (7-0) – A really great half team. But that offense will cost them.
5. Houston (6-1) – Methinks the Cougars have been waiting for this game for a while.
7. Louisiana (6-1) – Escaping at Arkansas State was unexpected, but let’s not lose sight that they haven’t lost since Week One at Texas.
8. UTEP (6-1) – Miners….you in danger.
9. Coastal Carolina (6-1) – I know, I know, aPp StAtE jUsT BeAt ThEm. I still think Coastal is really good and in any other scenario other than a Thursday night in Boone, Coastal wins. Plus, it was just a week prior that App State got boatraced by Louisiana. People don’t forget.
10. Northern Illinois (6-2) – They aren’t just the best of a mediocre conference. Their Week One win at Georgia Tech proved they are a legitimate good team.

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