It is hard to believe we are already at week eight!!
UNLV joined the upset brigade in their demolition of Vanderbilt.
Appalachian State joins a strong list of G5 ranked teams!
This week’s list may miss a game or two that rivals in importance, as this season has become more wide open in most conferences than anticipated. Not to mention that one time slot in particular has several incredible games simultaneously!
Without further ado, five games to watch this week:
1. Temple at #19 SMU (Saturday, 3:30 p.m., ESPN 2)
It is one thing to be ranked for the first time in 30+ years. It is another thing entirely to defend it. The Mustangs needed a 21 point Buchele fourth quarter and unfortunate kicking mishaps by Tulsa to survive in extra time last week. They will not have those circumstances this time around.
These Temple Owls have already unseated one ranked team in their house this year, and have the defense to withstand the air attack of the Mustangs. They also have recovered nicely from their lone loss, and could really make a statement in Dallas.
It is a pivotal game in the wide open AAC race, and a must win for both teams!
2. Louisiana-Monroe at #24 Appalachian State (Saturday, 3:30 p.m., ESPN+)
The highest ranking by a Sun Belt school, much less the fact that it beats their brief #25 appearance last year, the target of the entire Sun Belt rests heavily on the backs of the Mountaineers.
They could get distracted, and treat this as a trap game. Louisiana-Monroe is a formidable opponent, and this season has proven that anything really is possible.
However, their coach’s one week at a time philosophy has been working well so far, and though I expect this to be competitive, it should be a home victory in Boone.
3. Southern Miss at Louisiana Tech (Saturday, 3:30 p.m., NFL Network)
These teams have only lost to Mississippi State, Texas, and Alabama.
The Golden Eagles outscored a strong C-USA West Division rival North Texas last week, while Tech got almost 70 in nonconference play.
In a very competitive West Division, these two teams have a real shot for the crown. Louisiana Tech still has to play UNT, and both teams have to face UAB yet. But this is a must win, for the winner will be in the driver’s seat going forward!
4. Tulane at #23 Memphis (Saturday, 7:00 p.m., ESPN 2)
Okay, so first things first, Tulane should be ranked. This is an incredible showdown regardless, but what are the chances of a ranked team AAC showdown the rest of the year now? #RankTulane
Anyways, Memphis will be home, with a giant chip on their shoulders from a game that was debatably taken from them, or at the very least anger and passion on the field to prove that the loss was a fluke. A win here would strengthen their hand in the AAC West, where they still have SMU on their schedule, and a stronger chance at returning to the conference championship game again. Losing could force a win-out scenario just for that same possibility.
Tulane, having repeatedly proven their mettle in upsets of Houston and Army, were left just outside the top 25. That will be the chip on their shoulder heading into the Liberty Bowl. Losing would push them back, with games in Annapolis and Dallas still left to face, making their shot at the crown partially dependent on a win here.
5. Air Force at Hawaii (Saturday, 11:00 p.m., CBSSN)
#MWCAFTERDARK returns with two incredible showdowns. This has more interest, and a closer spread, so this makes the cut this week.
The loss to Boise State is really sticking out in the MWC East, as Air Force continues to play keep up with the leaders. That makes every conference game a must-win for the Falcons, and so they won a tough home game against Fresno State last week. A loss here would likely remove USAF from title talk, so they cannot afford to lose here!
Hawai’i continues to prove that the loss to Washington was a fluke. Yes they too lost to the Broncos last week, but they have the luxury of not sharing a division with Boise. An unexpected challenger in San Diego State is keeping the Rainbow Warriors in second in the West, but winning here will restore title talk in the land of Cole.
Honorable Mention: Nevada at Utah State (Saturday, 10:15 p.m., ESPNU)
In the other main MWCAFTERDARK game, we have the feel-good story of Nevada’s strong kicker and recovery from the Oregon beatdown against the surprising strongest challenger to Boise State in the MWC East.
Nevada has now surprised Purdue and San Jose State with game-winning kicks. In fact that win over the Spartans showed that the Wolfpack are improving as the season progresses, having lost big in their two previous games against stronger opponents (Oregon and Hawai’i). While unlikely to make a title push this year, a win on the road here could build momentum for later games, especially against San Diego State.
Utah State are currently 21-point favorites, however. They have only lost to top teams, they are heading here off a bye, and they get to be home in this key matchup. Honestly, the only game they absolutely can’t afford to lose is Thanksgiving weekend against Boise State, but to keep the momentum going, they absolutely need the win here!
Toledo at Ball State (Saturday, 2:00 p.m., ESPN+)
The Toledo Rockets lost at home to Bowling Green, and the Cardinals came from behind to upset Eastern Michigan.
Those two events made it go from an expected blowout to a potential toss-up.
In fact, this week has Ball State as the only team in the MAC West undefeated. If Toledo falls in Muncie, they fall completely out of the driver’s seat. It is absolutely a must win for the Rockets to get back to the totle talk in the uncharacteristically wide open MAC.
The Ball State Cardinals would put themselves completely in the MAC East driver’s seat if they win here, having already beaten the defending winners, and it would give them a three game winning streak carrying into the heart of their schedule.
What a day to know the G5!