MACtion returns this week. Rejoice and be glad in it.
But before looking ahead, let’s take a look at the weekend that was in the Group of Five.
Arguably the most impressive team in the Group of 5 this weekend was Southern Miss. On a national stage Thursday Night, they showcased their Superback offense and unleashed the Wrath of Will Hall on Louisiana 39-24.
If you think that the Golden Eagles are more than Frank Gore’s son, you are mistaken. While Frank Gore Jr. is an all-conference talent, so is wide receiver Jason Brownlee, giving freshman quarterback Zach Wilcke a couple very nice weapons to work with. They are every bit as scary on defense, with the self-proclaimed Nasty Bunch living up to their moniker. Malik Shorts is a pro in the secondary, and he may not be the only one.
I actually wrote in the preseason that they remind me of Troy in the sense that they have a terrific defense and are a quarterback away from being downright dangerous on offense. While they did lose handily to the Trojans 27-10 a few weeks ago, they are on a similar trajectory and a team to watch in the future. So while Southern Miss may not be at the top (as their SMTTT hashtag suggests), they are definitely in the Upper Echelon of their division.
Remember, for all the love Tulane is getting (and rightfully so), their lone loss this season is to Southern Miss. Really makes you think doesn’t it?
2. The Best Team in Miami?
No it isn’t the Hurricanes, and God have mercy on your soul if you watched that “football game” against Virginia. The team in Miami playing the best right now is FIU, who won an actually entertaining overtime game against Louisiana Tech Friday night.
The Panthers have won back-to-back conference games in large part to quarterback Grayson James. The last two games they have really opened up the offense and let James cook, as he has thrown for over 300 yards both games. The Panthers sit at 4-4 and don’t have a particularly easy closing stretch with two trips to Texas (at North Texas and UTEP) and home games with rival FAU and Middle Tennessee to close out the season. A bowl bid won’t be easy, but for FIU who had pretty low expectations coming into the season, they are headed in the right direction.
3. Jake’s Back
Make no mistake, the best team in the Mountain West right now is Boise St. after they righted the ship in October. But now that Jake Haener is back, Fresno St. will have a say in who wins the conference.
The Bulldogs won an entertaining game against San Diego St. Saturday night/Sunday morning 32-28, after Haener hit receiver Nikko Remigio with less than a minute to go in the game. Haener has been out with injury for almost six weeks, but picked right back up where he left off, throwing for almost 400 yards and three touchdowns.
With a November slate that includes games against Hawaii, UNLV, Nevada and Wyoming, as well as the tiebreaker over San Jose St., the Bulldogs look like the favorites to represent the West division in the conference title game.
Side Note: Wear the alternate uniforms more often please and thank you.