Top G5 Non-Conference Matchups of 2017

With the putrid garbage fire the NBA calls a “playoff” nearing its end, it’s finally time to talk a little football.  This year’s schedule features several intriguing non-conference group of five games, no power five teams involved, and we’ll hit four of those with this list today.

 

Oregon State at Colorado State

August 26

Wait, we aren’t doing power five schools remember? Yes, but the Beavers are trash and should honestly switch spots with Colorado State. Therefore, I’m giving myself a pass here.

The Rams are loaded on offense and have two quarterbacks with starting experience returning. Senior Nick Stevens will start game one this season after taking over midway through last year after then-freshmen Collin Hill went down with an ACL injury. Stevens ended up throwing 19 touchdowns in ten games while completing 64.2% of his passes. Colorado State also returns 2,686 rushing yards along with Michael Gallup, the team’s top receiver who hauled in 76 receptions for 1,272 yards in 2016. The defense will be a little shaky coming into the season but will benefit from the return of linebacker Deonte Clyburn who sat out 2016 with a blod clot. The three other linebackers in the Rams 3-4 scheme combined for 24.5 tackles for loss a year ago and make up Colorado State’s top defensive unit.

As for the Beavers, see line one.

 

Troy at Boise State

September 2

The 2017 season starts with a bang with this rare nationally televised Saturday group of five game. Boise State has long been regarded as one of the top G5 teams in the country while Troy burst onto the scene with a 10 win 2016 season.

The Trojans return nearly 100 percent of its high scoring offense from last season, including senior 3,000 yard passer Brandon Silvers. On defense, Troy lost a lot of production at linebacker but is boosted by one of the top defensive lines in the Sun Belt and a ball-hawking secondary.

The Broncos return their first team all-conference quarterback in Brett Rypien and his 3,646 passing yards. While his top target Thomas Sperbeck has graduated, downfield threat Cedrick Wilson returns after averaging 20.16 yards per catch in 2016. Running back Jeremy McNichols chose to forgo his senior year and leaves the position for sophomore Alexander Mattison, who had 328 yards and four touchdowns last season, to fill in full time. Boise State loses a significant amount of its defense from a year ago and will lean on lineman David Mao to anchor the front seven.

No game on this list holds as much weight as this one. With Boise State favored early by five, I’m taking Troy in this contest.

 

Coastal Carolina at UAB

September 16

One is making a return to FBS football and the other is joining for the first time. The Return has built plenty of hype in Birmingham for the Blazers and the Chanticleers bring a pedigree of success from the FCS ranks.

As for Coastal, It loses its top two running backs and will lean on Osharmar Abercrombie to bolster the ground game. The Chanticleers used a bevy of quarterbacks last season due to injuries and threw for just 1,600 yards as a team. On an offense full of question marks, it remains to be seen who will be under center in game one. Coastal also loses 16 of its 21 interceptions from last season but will have the services of defensive lineman Marcus Williamson, who had 9 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks last year.

As if the Chanticleers early outlook wasn’t murky enough, let’s take a look at UAB. There is plenty of talent on the team but game-time experience is severely lacking. A healthy quarterback battle with AJ Erdely in the lead is a bright spot for Bill Clark’s offense that also features former Kansas State running back Kalin Heath. The defense is going to be a work in progress though, primarily because the depth just isn’t there. The Blazers will rely on its linebacker group to be its defensive strength while the secondary will be stretched thin in a pass first CUSA.

This contest will do a great job of showing its 37 viewers which program is further along in its FBS quest. Give me the Chanticleers in this one.

 

Georgia State at Charlotte

September 23

I like this game because I think Georgia State is going to begin its push to the top tier of the Sun Belt this year and a road game at Charlotte will provide a good measuring stick as to how good first year coach Shawn Elliot’s team is.

Gone is elite wide receiver Robert Davis, but the Panthers offense will continue to be led by a growing Conner Manning at quarterback. Behind Manning is a pair of running backs, each with his own strength. Count on Kyler Neal being a more prominent part of the offense after leading the team with 314 rushing yards in 2016 and Glenn Smith, who had 150 yards rushing and 547 yards receiving, continuing to be a two-way threat.

While Charlotte improved to four wins in 2016 over two in 2015, three of those came over either an FCS opponent or a CUSA bottom-feeder. The 49ers do return their starting quarterback but lose their top receiver and running back. Charlotte does have a star in the making though in sophomore Robert Washington who had 489 rushing yards as a true freshman last year.

A win for Charlotte could mean a 3-1 start while the Panthers could go up 2-1 early with a win. This gives this September game plenty of bowl implications before the two teams get into the meat of their respective conference schedules.

 

 

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