Welcome to this week’s G5 Top 25. It’s so refreshing to see representation in those “other” polls. But never forget who was there for you when no one else was. On to this week’s poll.
1. Air Force (7-0) – It wasn’t pretty, but Saturday’s 17-6 win against Navy is pretty par for the course when it comes to Commander-in-Chief battles. Yes the Midshipmen were starting a freshman quarterback and it was incredibly windy, but the fact remains they held a fellow service academy to 124 total yards, most of which were accrued on a final drive that ultimately had no bearing on the outcome of the game. The Falcons resume conference play Saturday at Colorado St. against a Ram squad that plays hard.
2. Tulane (6-1) – I am getting dangerously close to swapping Tulane and James Madison.
Tulane is winning, but not in an overly dominant fashion. Saturday they beat North Texas 35-28 in a game where they led 21-0 at halftime. They messed around a couple weeks prior against UAB. It is probably a “business as usual” mentality, but they probably better lock in this Saturday at Rice because the Owls can put up points.
3. James Madison (7-0) – I honestly don’t know what else can be said that hasn’t already. This team is treating every game like a mission. They thoroughly dominated Marshall 20-9 Thursday night in Huntington. This Saturday they host Old Dominion in a game that I say could test them but probably won’t. (That’s not a slight on ODU, who has been a pleasant surprise. This team is just that good.)
4. Fresno St. (6-1) – The Bulldogs had a bye week. This Saturday they host a *checks notes* already bowl eligible UNLV team.
5. Liberty (7-0) – CUSAnity delivered in a pretty fun way last week, perhaps no more so than in Liberty’s 42-35 win against Middle Tennessee St. You kinda know what you are going to get at this point with Liberty. They are a fun offense to watch but no one really looks at them and thinks they should be playing a Texas or Oregon in a NY6 bowl game. This Tuesday they travel to Bowling Green to take on Western Kentucky.
6. Wyoming (5-2) – The Cowboys had a Bye Week before heading to the blue turf to take on Boise St.
7. Memphis (5-2) – Memphis probably has the two best losses of anyone (against Missouri and Tulane) for whatever that is worth to you. They travel to North Texas this Saturday in a game that may be tricky, but this feels like a team that is treading water until they host SMU in a game that likely determines one of the AAC Championship game participants.
8. Georgia State (6-1) – Can you imagine a world where Georgia AND Georgia St. make it to their respective conference championship games? What a time to be alive.
The Panthers became bowl eligible (and validated my faith in them in the preseason) with their 20-17 win at Louisiana Saturday. But their schedule gets demonstrably tougher starting this Thursday at Georgia Southern and continuing with games against James Madison and at LSU.
9. UNLV (6-1) – The Rebels moved to 6-1 after a dramatic 25-23 win against Colorado St. Saturday. It was actually the first time in 5 games they hadn’t scored 40 points, so they had to rely on defense and special teams (kicker Jose Pizano went 6-for-6 on field goal attempts) to become bowl eligible. They are still undefeated in conference play, but we will find out if this team is comfortable resting on their laurels after reaching uncharted territory. They travel to Fresno St. this week.
10. Troy (5-2) – Troy had a bye week heading into this Saturday’s game at Texas St.
11. SMU (5-2) – The Mustangs are cruising right along, crushing the bottom part of the conference with nary a challenge. Friday night they destroyed Temple 55-0 and this Saturday they likely do the same to Tulsa. A challenge is coming Nov. 18 at Memphis, but other than that…
12. Toledo (7-1) – Winners of 7 in a row, the Rockets might have cleared their most difficult hurdle with their 21-17 win on the road against Miami OH. They get a mini bye before MACtion begins Halloween night at home against Buffalo.
13. Ohio (6-2) – The Bobcats moved into a tie for the MAC East Division and became bowl eligible with their 20-17 win over Western Michigan Saturday. Now they set their sights higher with their showdown Saturday at home against Miami OH.
14. Miami OH (6-2) – Not a great Saturday for the RedHawks. Not only did they lose their showdown with Toledo 21-17, they also lost their quarterback Brett Gabbert to injury. And oh by the way, they head to Athens this week to take on Ohio. At least the defense is good.
15. Georgia Southern (5-2) – When this offense is humming like they were in the first half of their 38-28 win Saturday against UL Monroe, they are as fun to watch as any in the Group of 5. But when they are sputtering like they were in the second half, it can be a tough watch. Nonetheless, they are sitting at 5-2 heading into a showdown Thursday at home against Georgia St. in a game that may decide who represents the Sun Belt East in the conference title game. *grumble grumble it should be James Madison*.
16. UTSA (4-3) – UTSA might’ve played their most complete game of the season in Saturday’s 36-10 win over Florida Atlantic in Boca. FAU’s lone TD came from their defense in the first quarter and they were shut out the final 3 quarters. Meanwhile Frank Harris is developing chemistry with receivers not named Joshua Cephus as freshman Devin McCuin has stepped up recently and three running backs gained more than 50 yards on the ground. The Roadrunners are clicking, and hope to continue that Saturday at home against East Carolina.
17. Jacksonville St. (6-2) – A dominant second half against Western Kentucky allowed Jacksonville St. to win 20-17 on a last second field goal and
become bowl eligible get to six victories. They head to Miami to take on FIU this Wednesday.
18. Texas St. (5-2) – The Bobcats had a bye week before trying to become bowl eligible and maybe take control of the Sun Belt West this Saturday at home against Troy.
19. South Alabama (4-3) – Honestly, the less said about last week’s 55-3 win over Southern Miss the better. I’m not sure that game was even fun for Jaguar fans. But they have won their last two games 110-10, so that’s a fun stat. They host Louisiana this Saturday before the game they are waiting for 5 days later at Troy.
20. Rice (4-3) – It’s hard to believe that the same Rice squad that bludgeoned Tulsa 42-10 Thursday night is the same team that gave UCONN their only win of the year just a week prior. But this version needs to stick around a while because the Owls next 3 games (at home vs. Tulane and SMU and at UTSA) are gonna be unpleasant experiences.
21. Western Kentucky (4-3) – I’m stubborn to a fault on this Hilltopper team, but it may be time to accept that they are just ok. They are sitting at 4-3 after their loss to Jacksonville St. and host conference leader Liberty this week. At least their helmets will be sweet.
22. Marshall (4-3) – It’s not that the Thundering Herd looked bad in their 20-9 loss to James Madison Thursday night. JMU has that effect on people. It’s that this is Marshall’s third straight loss with 3 of their next 4 on the road and their best offensive player (Rasheen Ali) not healthy. I’m not seeing what I’m liking here, but they do play a likely Grayson McCall-less Coastal Carolina team this Saturday in Conway.
23. New Mexico St. (5-3) – Winners of 3 in a row, New Mexico St. moved to 5-3 after their 28-7 at UTEP Wednesday night. A couple early season losses at home to UMass and at Hawaii keep this team from feeling more like a threat in CUSA, but they are playing well enough that they should get to a bowl despite games at Louisiana Tech, Auburn and Western Kentucky and home games against Middle Tennessee St. and Jacksonville St.
24. Northern Illinois (4-4) – We’ve kinda reached “somebody has to go here” territory, but the Huskies have won 3 in a row after their 20-13 win Saturday against Eastern Michigan. With the two remaining directional Michigan schools, Ball St. and Kent St. remaining on their schedule, this feels like a team that can maintain their momentum and go on a run.
25. Coastal Carolina (4-3) – First off, glad to see Grayson McCall is ok after a scary hit in Saturday’s 27-17 win at Arkansas St. His status for Saturday’s game at home against Marshal is TBD since he is in concussion protocol. But looking at the big picture, this team has two two conference road games and generally playing solid football.
Special shout-out to Old Dominion, who also sits at 4-3 after beating Appalachian St. Saturday. But they are traveling to James Madison this Saturday in a game that feels an awful like a lamb being led to slaughter. Pray for the Monarchs.
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.