Three additions to the upset party this week!
- SMU brought the Iron Skillet home in dominating fashion over a ranked TCU.
- Appalachian State took a field goal block to wrap up a strong victory over UNC.
- Lastly, San Jose State took down an SEC opponent for the first time ever in a win over Arkansas.
Now with that out of the way…let us just jump into it!
What to watch:
1. Navy at Memphis (Thursday, 8 p.m., ESPN)
I know, it looks like it will be lopsided to the Tigers. But here are three reasons why this game will be close.
- Navy has run and passed all over teams so far, including a conference opponent.
- They are also coming off a bye week, so they have had more time to prepare for this game
- Believe it or not, Navy leads the all-time record. Not only that, they hosted the Tigers last year, and came up victorious.
This has a lot riding on it in a wide-open AAC, and is an incredible way to start this college football weekend!
2. San Jose State at Air Force (Friday, 8 p.m., CBSSN)
With a lot of MWC games occurring this week, in an ever-deepening conference, every game counts. Both of these teams could make a run for the title, even with the Falcons’ opener loss.
San Jose State may be the heavy underdogs, but a win here would be a statement to the rest of the MWC West to not take them lightly, especially after their upset in nonconference play.
A Falcon win would right the ship, and reinvigorate the fan base going forward. Not to mention put pressure on the frontrunners in the conference and put themselves back in conversation for the title.
3. Central Michigan at Western Michigan (Saturday, Noon, CBSSN)
The oldest rivalry on this list, this will be a showdown to see if the preseason narratives ring true.
The Chippewas are perfect at home and winless on the road, but that as a barometer alone would be misleading. They are fresh off a conference win over Akron, followed by a closer-than-expected loss in Miami (FL). They have already bounced back from a beatdown before, and a win here would put them closer to being in the driver’s seat in the MAC West.
The Broncos, expected to be the class of the conference, have not been too impressive so far. They lost unconvincingly to a hot-and-cold Syracuse team in what was expected more of a toss-up, and have shown inconsistency this season so far. A loss here would have them playing catchup, as these two teams share a division.
4. Florida Atlantic at Charlotte (Saturday, 3:30 p.m., NFLN)
An early showdown in C-USA!
The Owls’ laughable loss to Ohio State doesn’t look so unusual now that the Redhawks faced the same fate, and their other games had expected outcomes. To start conference play 1-0, they will need to do just that in Charlotte.
I know what you are thinking. On paper, the 49ers do not look good at all. They got exposed last week by a large margin, and their wins to date are against the lowest independent and an FCS team.
But taking a step back, they got destroyed…by the defending national champion Clemson, on the road. Their other loss? An impressive showing in their opener in Boone against the upset party Mountaineers.
If FAU makes a few too many mistakes, like they did against UCF, this intra-divisional game can get away from them very quickly, and leave a preseason favorite for the C-USA title playing catch up from the beginning.
5. Colorado State at Utah State (Saturday, 8 p.m., ESPN 2)
Ag Day has arrived, and this day is full of expectations and excitement!
Colorado State may not have an impressive record, but it is absolutely misleading. They pushed Colorado and Arkansas both to the limits, and nearly won both games (especially in Fayetteville). Toledo is an underrated team, and that loss was competitive to the very end.
On the other side is a team many expected improvement from, but has somehow exceeded expectations already, in the Aggies. Not many expected that they would push a surprisingly strong Wake Forest to a close game, and they topped that last week by dominating an unbeaten Aztec team in their conference opener.
Colorado State could challenge this more than it looks on paper, and they won the last meeting that was in Logan. A win for either puts them early in the leader pack in their divisions.
Honorable mention: Arkansas State at Troy (Saturday, 6 p.m., ESPN+)
In what has been an emotionally impactful year for the Red Wolves, it continues with a bitter rivalry game in Troy.
In what is a theme this season, Arkansas State has consistently proved to be resilient. A tough home loss to SMU, bounced back with a beatdown in Las Vegas. A shellacking in Athens to Georgia, bounced back in a solid win at home last week.
Starting conference play with a win, especially in a winnable Sun Belt West, would bring the Red Wolves considerable momentum for the schedule ahead. However, that’s an even steeper hill now that Logan Bonner is done for the season.
Troy has been as many expected Troy to be up to now. They dominate in games they are expected to win and pushed Southern Miss in a shootout loss at home.
A loss here would really set them back in a division where everyone is going to be looking up at Appalachian State. A win in this contentious yearly showdown would put the Mountaineers and the rest of the Sun Belt on notice. It would also cleanse the palate of long-time fans, as their last two meetings in Troy were won by Arkansas State.
Louisiana at Georgia Southern (Saturday, 6 p.m., ESPN+)
The other major Sun Belt showdown is happening simultaneously in Georgia. This is not one to miss either!
The Ragin’ Cajuns have been rather impressive so far. They pushed Mississippi State to a fight in their opener, and have won the three games since in impressive fashion. They are poised to make a strong run to the title game this year, but they must he careful to not overlook this game.
Georgia Southern has been… less impressive. LSU blew past them in their opener, followed by a struggle to win over FCS Maine, and choking away an upset in Minnesota. With a tough schedule ahead, the Eagles can’t afford more of the same.
Winning this game, where they are the decided underdogs, could spark a change of narrative to their year.
Cincinnati at Marshall (Saturday, 5 p.m., Stadium Football’s Facebook)
Offense should be abundant in this game, which is in large part why it is even included.
The Bearcats need to be careful not to look past this game, as their conference opener against UCF looms large.
They have shown in strong wins over UCLA and Miami (OH) that they can score and play defense, but going into Huntington is no easy matter for any team.
Marshall has only lost to Boise State, and even that was close all the way through. They have the added bonus of having an extra week to prepare for this matchup, which definitely leans things back their way. The Thundering Herd also need to make sure they stay focused, with their opener in Murfreesboro next week.
Both teams have had strong offensive showings, and solid defensive help. So it should be a game to watch on Facebook.