This is your friendly reminder that there are CUSA games tonight and tomorrow night. Set your TiVo for Jacksonville St. vs. Middle Tennessee St. and FIU vs. New Mexico St. Wednesday and Sam Houston at Liberty and Western Kentucky at Louisiana Tech Thursday. But until then, here are five other G5 related nuggets to chew on.
Best Game You Probably Didn’t See – Marshall 41, Old Dominion 35
Is a running back who gained 236 yards on 11 CARRIES something I could interest you in? If so, I’ll introduce you to Old Dominion running back Kadarius Calloway, who did exactly that Saturday against Marshall. (And oh yeah, he scored thrice, but that kinda pales in comparison to getting 21.5 yards every time you tote the rock.)
Now despite that absolutely wild performance, the Marshall defense actually stepped up when it needed to, intercepting ODU quarterback Jack Shields three times. I don’t know, maybe the Monarchs should have kept handing the ball to Calloway?
This is the kind of game that the Thundering Herd couldn’t afford to lose. Old Dominion is frisky but has a hard time putting it all together for four quarters. It’s easy to overlook them amidst the high flying offense of Georgia Southern and the blossoming superpower that is James Madison, but Marshall is undefeated heading into this Saturday’s game at NC State. A win in Raleigh (their second against an ACC opponent this year) and this might be the team to beat in the Sun Belt East.
Most Pleasant Surprise – Bowling Green doing Bowling Green things.
It seems like every year Bowling Green has one of these games that they come out of seemingly nowhere to win.
Two years ago, they went to Minnesota and upset the Golden Gophers. Last year, they beat Marshall in a shootout a week after the Thundering Herd won at Notre Dame. This year, they beat a Georgia Tech team that was wearing pretty sweet black uniforms. (Google them.)
Honestly, not much about this outcome makes sense. Sure, they Yellow Jackets are not above losing to a team in the Group of Five. But the Falcons themselves had been struggling, losing to Michigan and Ohio the previous two weeks by a combined score of 69-13. I understand those are two very good defenses, but a 38-point outburst against an ACC team is not exactly something anyone would have expected.
The pieces are there for Bowling Green. Their quarterback has Power 5 experience. (Connor Bazelak started at Missouri and Indiana.) Running back Terion Stewart has over 1,000 rushing for his career and receiver Odieu Hiliare has all-conference potential. But that early-season schedule has been very difficult. But this win might be what gives them the confidence they need to navigate through the MAC and find enough wins to return to a bowl.
Biggest Disappointment – UL Monroe getting their collective hearts ripped out.
This game could have been the Game of the Week, but every time Terry Bowden loses, I get a little sadder.
App State win this wild game thanks to a 54-yard walk-off field goal by Michael Hughes. I mean no disrespect to App State, but this is the kind of game that a program like UL Monroe needed. They are consistently at the bottom of the Sun Belt, an afterthought in a conference that is seeing constant change. And UL tends to play teams tough at home, but seemingly rarely well enough to get over the hump. And after a first half that saw them tied with the Mountaineers at 28, there was hope.
I’ve talked at length about the Sun Belt East. App State will be right there when all is said and done. But in the Sun Belt West with road games at Texas St., Georgia Southern, Louisiana and Ole Miss as well as a home game against Troy, this might have been their shot to think about making a bowl.
Biggest Overreaction – Texas St. may win out.
I actually talked myself into this before writing my G5 Top 25 column earlier this week but I am feeling more and more comfortable on this ledge. The West division is clearly the weaker of the two Sun Belt divisions and the 3 toughest games remaining on their schedule (Troy, Georgia Southern and South Alabama) are all being played in Texas. The offense is clicking about as well as any not located in Statesboro, Georgia. Quarterback TJ Finley is playing mistake-free football, throwing for 10 scores this season and only 1 interception. Running back Ismail Mahdi has scored 6 TDs in their last 3 games. There is a lot to like.
They also could lose to Louisiana Saturday in an ESPNU showcase in a true test of how much I know.
Game of the Week – Fresno St. at Wyoming
When a Mountain West game Fox Saturday Night timeslot, you know it is pretty important.
It almost feels like these teams have been on a collision course ever since Week One when they both defeated a Power 5 opponent. (Fresno St. defeated Purdue and Wyoming beat Texas Tech.) Since then both teams have played terrific football, with the understandable exception of the Cowboys loss to Texas. It is too early to say that this will be a conference championship preview because Air Force is still out there literally running over people, but it is safe to say that the winner of this game has the inside track to at least play in the MWC title game.
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