I had one last week, but by the time it was remembered by all, half the games were done already.
This week should be released earlier, and you’ll see why shortly.
Also, FOUR ranked G5 teams! What a year!
Anyways, here is what to watch:
1. Appalachian State at Louisiana (Wednesday, 8 p.m., ESPN 2)
It is not quite time for MACtion, but this Sun Belt tilt is high on the list of important games this week regardless.
Both teams will come into it fresh off of a bye week, and both have a lot riding on this outcome
Appalachian State has seen a little love in the Top 25 poll votes since they beat UNC and remain undefeated. A win here would put them completely in the driver’s seat for a repeat appearance in the Sun Belt Championship Game. A loss would remove them from the top 25 conversations, and make the road to the top harder.
The Ragin’ Cajuns have quietly been churning four impressive victories in a row, and rising to the top of the wide-open Sun Belt West. A win could put them on the map, and would be a huge boost to making it to the Championship Game themselves!
The home team is favored, but on Appalachian State’s side is that they have won all six matchups to date. This should be must-watch TV!
2. #23 Memphis at Temple (Saturday, Noon, ESPN 2)
The Memphis Tigers are ranked, and their first challenge to retain it is a tough opponent on the road.
The Owls have already proved that they can beat ranked opponents this year, and getting to play spoiler here has even greater implications for them. As the AAC East gets ever more competitive, a win here would put the Owls one step closer to the top, with only Cincinnati ahead of them presently.
Memphis entered their bye week on fire, upsetting Ole Miss and dominating lesser foes. Since then, they trailed Navy at halftime and then struggled to put away Louisiana Monroe at home last week. A big win here could reassure those who have them as preseason favorites in the West, with SMU and Tulane still to come.
3. #25 Cincinnati at Houston (Saturday, 3:30 p.m., ESPN 2)
After watching that exciting showdown, stay there as this one soon follows!
Cincinnati’s only loss is to Ohio State, and they blew out Marshall and UCLA heading into last week. Then, they shocked many in pulling the upset against the then-ranked UCF favorites! Now ranked themselves, and with an extra day to prepare, they travel to NRG Stadium for a cross-division showdown that could further propel the Bearcats to the driver’s seat in the East.
The Houston team that got blown out by Oklahoma is not the same team that outscored the Mean Green, but fans hope the bye week allowed the team to refocus for the uphill climb to have a shot at the West title this year, starting with this big home game.
4. Navy at Tulsa (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., ESPNU)
This is important for different reasons than the previous two AAC matchups.
Both teams have brought more of a fight in each game than many expected coming into the season, and both have repeatedly shown they can score early, late, and often, which makes for good television!
Navy pushed late to sing second at Air Force last week, and even in the game it lost to Memphis it put up a fight to the end. They may not contend for the AAC West title this year, but neither can any team on their schedule overlook them, including the spoiler team they are facing.
Tulsa is really good in the first half, having led against both Oklahoma State and SMU at halftime. Many saw them lead by as many as 21 last week before the Fighting Buecheles roared back.
But even more than their woeful kicking situation, the Golden Hurricanes need to play at a high level for a full game against an evenly matched or superior opponent to have a fighting chance to be competitive with the rest of the schedule.
This should be a really good statement game either way, for both teams.
5. Hawai’i at #14 Boise State (Saturday, 10:15 p.m., ESPN 2)
Besides the fact that it is MWCAFTERDARK, this game has title implications.
Hawai’i has bounced back from the beating it took in Washington, and as an added bonus got an extra week to prepare for this pivotal showdown. A win here would seriously undermine the “Boise State and everyone else” narrative that those on the outside looking in think of the MWC, as well as put themselves in the driver’s seat for the West division crown in a wide-open field.
It should not be overlooked by Boise State, either. The same Marshall team Cincy annihilated was a challenge to the Broncos, as well as the Falcon team Navy just beat. They have room for improvement in protecting their quarterback and on defense if they want to put the Fighting Roloviches away early and remain the darling of NY6 Bowl picks for the G5.
Honorable mention: Army at Western Kentucky (Saturday, 7 p.m., watchstadium.com)
If this game was televised, it would have made the list no question.
Army, once flirting with the top 25, showed incredible flaws on defense and got beaten soundly at home against Tulane. A win here would be a good rebound for this weaker-than-expected team.
It could not come at a better time though for Western Kentucky to have a statement win. They have already surprised many within the C-USA by upsetting UAB and starting conference play 3-0. What better way to keep Big Red rolling than to upset Army at home this week!
Army will come in with a chip on their shoulders. WKU comes into it with momentum. Who will prevail?
North Texas at Southern Miss (Saturday, 7 p.m, Stadium Football’s Facebook Page)
In what has been an incredibly wide-open season, it is no better reflected than in C-USA. The West division is a competitive field at the top, with both teams here currently looking up at Louisiana Tech.
Southern Miss has proven they can win a shootout, and North Texas has proven it cannot keep up when falling behind. So look for the Golden Eagles to try and stymie Mason Fine and company early.
On the other hand, the Mean Green got an extra week to see what went wrong against Houston, and get better prepared for Hattiesburg and beyond.