The Ultimate G5 Trip


You may know me as the guy who writes about Group of 5 football for the Walk-On Redshirts, but allow me to tell you a little bit more about myself.

I live in Washington DC (that’ll be important later). And I happen to be married to a flight attendant. With that comes certain travelling privileges, namely that we can fly pretty much anywhere in the United States for Free 99. But because both of us happen to be huge college football fans, a lot of the travel plans we make typically revolve around the sport we love. San Antonio seems cool and all, but we would rather see UTSA play than the Alamo. We’re weird that way.

So with that in mind, now that the schedules have been announced, I wanted to put together my dream Group of 5 Football Tour. Basically, if I could go to a G5 game every week this college football season, which one would I choose.

However, this article is not without disclaimers.

Disclaimer #1: I know up front I will not be able to attend all of these games. For one, I have a wedding that I am in Labor Day Weekend. (I know, I know. But I’m going and that’s not negotiable.) Also, my husband and I already have a Power 5 trip planned. As he is a Mississippi State Alum, we are going to my very first Mississippi State games. Week Two, the Bulldogs play in Tucson against a potentially not terrible Arizona Wildcat team. Which means I will likely be at a Pac-12 After Dark game. Then Week Three those same Bulldogs play in Death Valley against LSU. I love the Sun Belt as much as the next guy, but I’m not stupid. I’m just praying for a night game.

Disclaimer #2: I am not necessarily taking “the best game among the Group of 5” into consideration. Chances are, a majority of those games will take place in the state of Texas, as I expect Houston and UTSA to be very, very good (spoiler for the Week One game). I’m also thinking about things like location and time of year. While nothing says “destination” like a Wednesday night in November in Muncie, Indiana, I’m not sure how feasible that is given that I do have a job. Dare to dream though.

Disclaimer #3: This list will be strictly G5 vs. G5, if for no other reason than affordability of tickets. Given that I don’t have to pay for flights, some of these games can be attended relatively cheaply. Last year, we went to SMU vs. Navy and sat in the lower level for about $40 a ticket. Compare that to tickets for Ohio St. vs. Notre Dame. While I have a decent job, DC is expensive and your boy has bills to pay.

Despite these real life issues, I am going to create this list on the assumption that my fall was wide open. Basically if I was College Gameday for Group of 5 specific games, only without the terrible theme song.

Week Zero (Aug. 27): North Texas at UTEP – I went back and forth on whether to even include a game from this week given that it is a limited schedule. But there are actually two C-USA conference games taking place in warm weather climates. This one and Charlotte at Florida Atlantic. *Double checks to make sure all 4 teams are still in Conference USA.* Both games are equally interesting to be honest, as all four teams have a chance to make some noise in the conference, but my birthday happens to be August 26, so it came down to would I rather spend my birthday weekend in El Paso, Texas or Boca Raton, Florida. I’ll avoid Florida during hurricane season thank you very much.

Week One (September 3): Houston at UTSA – Back to back weekends flying to Texas sounds daunting. (Remember when I said I live in Washington DC?) But look at that game. If you read my last column where I gave a few hot takes (which you can read here), I am very, very high on Houston this year. And if you read pretty much anything I wrote during the 2021 season, I love UTSA. I hate that this game is happening, but I also think it’s my favorite game of the year.

Week Two (September 10): Memphis at Navy – Honestly, pickings are slim this week, as a lot of Group of 5 teams play Power 5 teams or FCS schools. In fact, I thought about putting UTSA at Army as my pick. (Because how intriguing does that game sound?) But as I learned last year, going to Annapolis is pretty awesome. So while I am going to Mississippi St. at Arizona, consider this a recommendation.

Week Three (September 17): Air Force at Wyoming – I know a little something about geography, so I’m pretty sure that if I were to go to Laramie, Wyoming, I would want to do so in September and not anytime during Q4. It’s hard to tell how good Wyoming is going to be, but Air Force should be really good, and so should the view. (Again, I’ll be at Death Valley so…)

Week Four (September 24): Southern Miss at Tulane – While they may not be the sexiest team around, my spouse has ties to Southern Miss, so watching Frank Gore Jr. live may be a prerequisite. But if I am going to do so, I may as well do it in New Orleans against the Green Wave in what is likely to be one of the most visually appealing uniform contrasts in all of college football.

Week Five (October 1): SMU at UCF – While UTSA was my G5 Crush last year, I Ponied Up pretty hard as well. This year’s Mustang squad doesn’t give me the warm feelings last year’s did, but I do like what I see with UCF. The Golden Knights have a fun offense behind former Ole Miss quarterback John Rhys Plumlee (assuming he wins the starting job) and the Bounce House sounds fun. Plus, October in Florida doesn’t sound terrible.

Week Six (October 8): Georgia Southern at Georgia State – It may not seem like it, but there is a lot to like about this game.

First off, Georgia Southern is coached by former USC head man Clay Helton. While it may have felt like he was in over his head with the Trojans job, this absolutely feels like a place where he can make some noise. I really see Georgia Southern being much improved. I also see the Georgia State Panthers as a darkhorse Sun Belt title contender. Winners of 7 of their last 8 games last season and nearly knocking off Auburn last September, coach Shawn Elliott has the team that can challenge in a conference that saw it’s champion Louisiana and primary challenger Coastal Carolina both lose a lot of key pieces. And on a personal note, I have friends and family in the Atlanta area, so depending on what time the game is, this shapes up to be a fun little weekend in the ATL.

Week Seven (October 15): Probably my bye week. Everybody gets one.

Week Eight (October 22): Boise St. at Air Force – Since, barring an unforeseen circumstance, seeing Air Force play at Wyoming Week Three is Plan B, I would like to see more games with mountains as a backdrop before snow becomes an issue. Colorado Springs is as good a place as any. And the fact that the Falcons are hosting a conference title contender in Boise St. is a nice bonus.

Week Nine (October 29): Coastal Carolina at Marshall – It’s weird to see this and think of it as a conference game, but it is. And it’s likely to be a very important one. Marshall is one of those teams I may be higher than most on, as I think they have one of the most underrated running backs in the country in Rasheen Ali. They need to find a quarterback, but this is May. There is time. Coastal Carolina definitely has their quarterback in Grayson McCall (he of the “I piss teal” tweet) but lost a lot of talent that helped make them the Chanticleers we either love or hate. This just feels like it will be a fun game.

Week Ten (November 5): UTSA at UAB – Since going to the Houston at UTSA game is not happening unless true love dies, the best hope of seeing my still beloved Roadrunners is this possible C-USA title preview against UAB. Birmingham is a sneaky underrated city (very good breweries there), and if the new stadium is good enough for the entire USFL, it’s good enough for me.

Week 11 (November 12): Fresno St. at UNLV – This is another one of those “may not happen”, as we are trying to get some friends from South Bend to come visit using the Notre Dame/Navy game in Baltimore as bait. If that falls through, I’m pretty sure Vegas is a suitable alternative. Fresno St. is looking like the class of the Mountain West with Jake Haener returning, and UNLV feels like one of those teams that can put it together much like San Jose St. did two years ago. But if not, at least they have a huge slot machine near the end zone.

Week 12 (November 17): Houston at East Carolina East Carolina is considered by many to be a darkhorse AAC contender. While I do like the Pirates (and the very short flight this game would entail), I kinda have to see it to believe it. So, here is me seeing it against a team I think could run the table this year.

Week 13 (November 25): Toledo at Western Michigan – I had every intention of getting a MAC game in here. I promise.

My sister and brother-in-law live in lower Michigan, so going to Kalamazoo to see what should be a good game between two of the perennial upper echelon teams in the Mid-American on Thanksgiving weekend just made sense.

So that’s what, in a perfect scenario, my fall could look like. The idea is to hopefully see some great games in some great locations. Will I get to all those games? Maybe not. Life happens when you are busy making other plans. Did I get a game in every location I want to? Absolutely not. I wanted to find an Appalachian St. game to get to for example, as I’ve heard Boone, N.C. is beautiful. But it just didn’t work out. Same with the teal turf at Coastal Carolina. There’s always next year.

Assuming both are still Group of Five teams, that is.

Top Candidates: Houston
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