Welcome to Week 7. Teams are talking about bowl eligibility already. Where does the time go? Let’s get to the polls before a CUSA game renders them outdated.
1. Air Force (6-0) – Well that was definitely a scare for the Air Force. Luckily, they have been there before.
Wyoming jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead Saturday night in their big showdown Saturday night. That slow start is not unlike the Air Force game against San Jose St. just a couple games ago. This one had a bit of a plot twist though, as quarterback Zac Larrier left the game in the 4th quarter. And just when all seemed lost, John Lee Eldridge ripped off a 58 yard touchdown run with just over a minute to play to help the Falcons to a 34-27 win.
I feel like I am seeing a couple flaws that might need addressed. The slow starts are concerning and Larrier’s injury may matter down the road. Not to mention there are two Commander-in-Chief games upcoming (including this Saturday at Navy) that are traditionally close. Having said all that, I said a few weeks ago this team could run the table and I stand by it.
2. Tulane (5-1) – Tulane’s 31-21 win in Memphis might be the more impressive win in terms of resilience. Through three quarters, it looked like Memphis would get the victory, but Tulane stayed the course, the defense locked in and the offense made the plays they needed to. The schedule lightens up a bit for the Green Wave starting this Saturday at home against North Texas.
3. James Madison (6-0) – It might be getting close to time to talk to your children about an undefeated James Madison not making a bowl.
The Dukes have beaten a Power 5 team, arguably the top 2 teams in the Sun Belt West and now the team many saw as their top challenger in the East. And not only did they beat the high-powered Georgia Southern, they destroyed them 41-13. The postseason ban is very dumb, so seeing JMU go on this tour of destruction is kinda fun. Next they go on the road to face Marshall Thursday. It should be a challenge, but that’s nothing new for this team.
4. Fresno St. (6-1) – The Bulldogs didn’t have the greatest bounce-back game following their loss to Wyoming last week, but they scored 37 and Utah St. scored 32, so there you go. It looked like Fresno St. had the game in hand, but the pesky Aggies made a fourth quarter run to make it a one-score game. After a bye week, Fresno St. hosts UNLV in another difficult challenge. This might be a team that fades down the stretch.
5. Liberty (6-0) – To the untrained eye, Liberty’s 31-13 win at Jacksonville St. may not be all that impressive. But trust me, it is. Quarterback Kaidon Salter and running back Quinton Cooley were each responsible for two scores and Liberty did what Liberty does. This team will probably run the table, but it’s tough to tell where that will put them in the G5 hierarchy. So look for them to start trying to blow teams out to make a statement. They host Middle Tennessee St. Tuesday. Pray for the Blue Raiders.
6. Wyoming (5-2) – Good effort out there.
Wyoming played well against Air Force but ultimately fell short by a touchdown. They’ve earned their bye week this week before a trip to Boise St.
7. Memphis (4-1) – Another good effort by a G5 Underdog. Memphis is good and couple get a rematch in the AAC Championship game. The path starts Saturday at UAB.
8. Georgia State (5-1) – I expect blow back for ranking Georgia St. above a Troy team that beat them two weeks ago, but I just think that was a one-off bad game. This team is generally blowing people out, as evidenced by their 41-24 win against Marshall Saturday. They host JMU Nov. 4, but before that they have two road games, including this Saturday at Louisiana.
9. UNLV (5-1) – The good news, this team is winning the games they are supposed to win, including Saturday’s 45-27 win at Nevada.
The bad news, they got this close to a bowl game last year and they still have games at Fresno St. and At Air Force along with a home game against Wyoming. They don’t need to win any of those game and this is definitely a bowl team, but to see where they stand in the Mountain West hierarchy, those games are what matter.
10. Troy (5-2) – This team is likely going to prove to be head and shoulders above the rest of the Sun Belt West. The defense is locked in, giving up only 10 points in the last 3 games, including Saturday’s 19-0 shutout of Army. They get a bye week before a road game at Texas St.
11. SMU (4-2) – SMU handled East Carolina 31-10 last week in what may end up being a familiar pattern. A majority of their schedule consists of games against AAC foes not likely to challenge for the conference title, allowing them to pad their record. They travel to Temple Friday night.
12. Miami OH (6-1) – Despite records, Miami might be distancing themselves from the pack as the best team in the MAC. They are certainly playing the best after their 34-21 win Saturday at Western Michigan. Now is the time where they can really establish themselves, as they host Toledo this Saturday.
13. Marshall (4-2) – I posed this question during Saturday’s loss at Georgia St., but is Cam Fancher any good? He is going to need to be great against JMU this Thursday, because the defense is struggling and Rasheen Ali can’t do it all himself.
14. Toledo (6-1) – I don’t know that a 13-6 win at lowly Ball St. is the way to instill confidence in a team going into their toughest conference game by far. But since it is the MAC we are talking about, there is a very real chance that the Rockets come out at dominate the RedHawks. We find out Saturday in Oxford.
15. Ohio (5-2) – Well that was a rather disappointing performance by the Bobcats Saturday.
Ohio dropped a 23-13 game at Northern Illinois for their first loss since Week Zero. Kurtis Rourke played by far his worst game, throwing three picks in the loss. They are still very much in the division race based on Miami’s game this week against Toledo and their matchup with them next week, but they need to get past Western Michigan Saturday for that game to really matter.
16. Georgia Southern (4-2) – Well that game against JMU was pretty brutal. But as long as they don’t let one loss become two this Saturday against UL Monroe, they should still be a player in the Sun Belt East.
17. Western Kentucky (4-2) – Someday very soon we are going to look back at the brief moment in time where we questioned whether or not Western Kentucky was the biggest challenger to Liberty and laugh. There is no shame in their two losses to Ohio St. and Troy and they are taking care of business in conference, including last week’s 35-28 win at Louisiana Tech. The CUSA Game of the Week is Tuesday night’s game between the Hilltoppers and Jacksonville St. at JSU.
18. Jacksonville St. (5-2) – The Gamecocks are probably not ready for the prime time lights yet after Liberty beat them last week. Sure it was tied at 10 at halftime, but that’s why they play two halves. They get another measuring stick game Tuesday night against Western Kentucky.
19. Louisiana (4-2) – Louisiana had a Bye Week heading into their home tilt against Georgia St. in what should be a fun, high-scoring affair.
20. Texas St. (5-2) – For 3 quarters, Texas St. resembled the Texas St. of old, struggling to put points on the board against a lowly UL Monroe squad. They were able to eek out a 21-20 win though, putting them one win away from bowl eligibility. They get a Bye Week before taking a swing at Troy.
21. Coastal Carolina (3-3) – Coastal was able to leave App St. with a 27-24 win last Tuesday. The schedule does break their way to where they can go on a run here, starting Saturday at Arkansas St.
22. Colorado St. (3-3) – So that was some finish huh?
As you may have seen on the X, Colorado St. beat Boise St. 31-30 on a wild finish that resulted in a Hail Mary. (Can a 33-yard pass be a Hail Mary?) The Rams were down 20 with about six minutes to play before making the furious rally. Between this and the Colorado game last month, this team has been through some stuff, but they are sitting at 3-3. Enjoy that because the next three games are as follows: at UNLV, Air Force at home, at Wyoming. Needless to say, they probably needed that win.
23. South Alabama (3-3) – The Jaguars had a Bye Week before their game at home against Southern Miss Tuesday.
24. Florida Atlantic (3-3) – I have been a Daniel Richardson fan since his time at Central Michigan, but his performance Saturday against South Florida showed how dynamic he can be. He went 31 for 38 for 382 yards and 3 TDs in their 56-14 rout. This Saturday is one of the more interesting and fun games as FAU hosts UTSA.
25. UTSA (3-3) – Now that Frank Harris is healthy, this offense is starting to resemble Roadrunner offenses of the past two year. They put up 40 in their second straight conference game after beating UAB 41-20. They head to Boca to take on FAU this Saturday. If they win that, there is still plenty of time for this team to go on a run.
So there is this week’s Top 25. Who is overrated? Underrated? Let us know on any of the @walkonredshirts socials. Also, we have partnered with Underdog Fantasy to help give you our Underdog picks for each weekend! Sign up today with Promo Code WALKON and get your first deposit doubled up to $100! Sign up HERE.