After the unbelievable outcome of the Hawai’i game (and let us be honest, the more sloppy but nearly as close Florida game too), my already annoyingly high excitement for the season is amped up to another level!
So much so that I dug through the upcoming week games involving Group of Five teams and have picked five to tab and keep up with, if not somehow watch myself.
(Given that these are games to watch, and not everyone has ESPN+ type availability, I am picking from games available on TV.)
Alright, here we go!
1. UCLA-Cincinnati (Thursday, 7 pm, ESPN)
While we wait until the much-hyped MACtion returns (which I am truly excited about for the first time in my life), we do get some interesting games on this Thursday. Many of the more integral ones are available on apps and extras (looking at you, FIU-Tulane), but this is an intriguing matchup for different reasons.
On one hand is a team in rebuilding, fresh off an uninspiring but eventful year which included a long-time-in-coming takedown of cross-town rival USC. With an increasingly more competitive division in it’s own right, they come to Cincy hoping for a tune up game to start their season
Awaiting them is a team itself in a general upswing, ready to make some noise in a conference overshadowed by the only (currently) ranked Gof5 team. If they had to pick a time to take on a middle-of-the-Pac team, this is a favorable year.
Look for a hard-fought matchup, with a very possible upset win by the Bearcats.
2. Colorado State-Colorado (Friday, 10 pm, ESPN)
I can see the Army and even some USF fans already wondering why their games (vs Rice and Wisconsin, respectively) are not going to be included here.
Well, I have a few reasons.
One is that this is an incredible way for two teams that most are uncertain about this season to introduce themselves: a heated in-state rivalry.
What better way to make some noise in the Big 12 than for the Buffaloes to extend their winning streak in the Rocky Mountain Showdown to five on national television.
Or what better way to strike out in a season where the Rams hope to get out from under the shadow of Boise State and Fresno State in the MWC than to pull off the upset in Denver.
Adding to that, this will be their last meeting in Denver after eighteen years in a row of facing off there, and you are in for quite a show!!
3. Ole Miss-Memphis (Saturday, Noon, ABC)
I mean think about this one. A non-cable television hosted game by an AAC team that is not UCF.
And here is the kicker…
THEY ARE THE FAVORITE TO WIN IT!!
There are a lot of Memphis fans that are sore from the comeback loss to said Knights in the championship game. There could be nothing better for them then to show, on widespread national television, that they are THE team to beat and a standard-bearer for the Group of Five than to trounce a team from the vaunted SEC.
It would add to any strength of schedule arguments later in the season, and it would heighten the much-needed conversation of the need for a place (or several) at the CFP-level table for more representation from the Group of Five.
It will also more than likely be a very compelling game, especially since its chief competitor is FAU-Ohio State. (Sorry Owls fans, maybe next week)
4. Boise State-FSU (Saturday, 7 pm, ESPN)
While many a Power Five fan (and basic television folks) will be watching Oregon-Auburn, many of you will (or if at all possible, should) be watching this absolutely wonderful showdown.
Unlike the previous game, the Broncos are the underdogs.
However, the defending MWC runner-up would love nothing more than to put themselves back in the general conversation by pulling the upset in Jacksonville.
FSU may be on it’s way to a bounceback season after a disappointing 2018.
But Boise State’s high level of talent, and historic ability to achieve in high-profile games, will probably outlast them in this showdown.
5. Houston-Oklahoma (Sunday, 7 pm, ABC)
Yes, you read that right.
A Sunday night college football primetime game including a Group of Five team.
Since NFL regular season is right around the corner, just on the unusual possibility of this happening would be reason enough to watch it.
It helps its own case that it is a wildly compelling matchup.
Two high-powered offenses facing off against their restructuring but still lacking defenses should make for a LOT of points.
Houston, much like Memphis, would love to dilute the AAC conversation, and surprising a top 5 ranked team at home on opening weekend would be quite the exclamation point!
Not to mention, there are plenty of fans of both who remember their last showdown three years ago, which ended in spectacular fashion.
(And a Houston win)
All of that makes for an incredible way to end Group of Five play in Week One!
Do you agree? What games will you be watching? Feel free to let me know at @PollsandMore on twitter, or in the comments where this is shared.