As we enter the penultimate weekend of the college football season (including conference championship weekend) let’s take a look at some goings-on in the Group of 5.
1. The Conference of Running Backs
I could ask you to name the top running back in the AAC, and chances are I could get 4 or 5 different answers.
The Top 2 running backs are probably Keaton Mitchell of East Carolina and Tyjae Spears of Tulane. But if you watched the two recent prime time games that Tulsa played (against Temple and USF Friday night) then you could make an argument that Deneric Prince was an all-conference back. And then there is Charles McClelland of Cincinnati, thousand-yard rusher Brian Battle of USF, and Isaiah Bowser and RJ Harvey, who both play for UCF.
All of the above are worthy of all-conference consideration. On top of that, they are flat-out fun to watch. Just imagine if Alton McCaskill of Houston was healthy…
2. Rivalry Week?
The last week of the season is not about rivalries in the world of the Group of 5. But make no mistake, there are several games this weekend that have significance, even if it is for bowl position and conference supremacy more than bragging rights.
Case in point, Cincinnati hosts Tulane Friday, with the winner clinching a spot in the conference championship game. The loser of that game will need to keep an eye on UCF and Houston’s games to determine who will finish in the Top 2. Sure, Directional Michigan School vs. Directional Michigan School has bragging rights and probably play for some trophy, but all-in-all, those types of games are reserved for the big boys. In the world of G5, this week is mostly about teams getting to the magical 6-win mark and extending their season, as well as earning a spot in the conference title game.
3. The MAC may have a problem…
And his name is Bert Emanuel Jr.
I didn’t write about him last week, but Central Michigan has the highlight of MACtion in freshman Bert Emanuel Jr. He was basically held out for the final four games of the year to preserve his redshirt. I view it more as a gift from the MACtion gods but whatever.
Emanuel has rushed for 421 yards in 3 games, but went off for 293 and 3 TDs against Buffalo two weeks ago. He is one of 4 quarterbacks that CMU is trying to get playing time in the midst of a losing season. It will be interesting to see how the position shakes out for next year. (Translation: Who will stay and who will transfer.) But if you get a chance to watch Emanual and the Chippewas Friday afternoon, make it a point to do so.
4. Oh boy has the Coaching Carousel begun.
Charlotte has their head coach for 2023 and well, look at him…
What a specimen.
Seriously, Charlotte hired Biff Poggi (great name), who is currently an associate head coach at Michigan. He doesn’t have a ton of coaching experience at the college level, however I seriously don’t dislike the move. The 49ers are moving to a new conference (the AAC) and probably considered one of the lower echelon teams anyway, so why not make a splash? What do you have to lose?
I just hope they schedule Arkansas soon. Him and Sam Pittman on the same field has to happen, just to prove they are different people.
5. Happy Thanksgiving.
Enjoy the turkey, and the final full weekend of college football.