Right after Army’s dominant win on Saturday over Louisiana-Monroe, the news of the postponement of the BYU game put a huge damper on an otherwise stellar weekend for the program. The BYU-Army game, originally slotted for 3:30 on CBS, left the network with a hole to fill.
Enter App State-Marshall. The game between two of the contenders for the Group of Five’s New Year’s Six spot now takes the spot. This is a huge boon for both conferences as network TV slots are incredibly hard to come by for both conferences. Since 2005, these are the following appearances for C-USA on ABC, CBS, or Fox:
- 2011- Southern Miss 49 @ Houston 28 (Conference USA Title Game), ABC
- 2012- Southern Miss 20 @ Nebraska 49, ABC
- 2017- UTEP 7 @ Oklahoma 56, FOX
- 2018- FAU 14 @ Oklahoma 63, FOX
- 2019 Boca Raton Bowl FAU 52 SMU 28, ABC
Below is the Sun Belt’s appearances on ABC, CBS, or Fox in the same time span:
- 2020 Arkansas State 35 @ Kansas State 31
That’s right. Arkansas State was the first team in the conference’s history to appear on one of the Big Three networks. The common thread between these two conferences is their appearances on network TV come as cannon fodder to Power Five teams.
This week’s App State-Marshall game is different as not only is it an all-Group of Five affair, but the two teams have some of the strongest pedigrees among the G5.
App State is fresh off nearly making the Cotton Bowl and their consistent success combined with their program defining win over Michigan make them one of the Group of Five’s biggest brands.
This game could very well be a showcase for the AP voters to help the Mountaineers gain ground on Cincinnati, UCF, and Memphis.
On the other hand, Marshall brings appeal to this matchup as well. Most know about their past NFL alumni like Byron Leftwich, Chad Pennington, and Randy Moss, but the Thundering Herd are just as consistent as the Mountaineers, having made bowls in six of the past seven years.
They too also came off a strong year with an 8-5 finish including a 6-2 mark in C-USA play. They also had a strong showing, albeit against a weak Eastern Kentucky team during Labor Day weekend with a 59-0 win, where Grant Wells threw for 307 and four scores to compliment a defense that allowed only 166 total yards.
The big stage and the programs on the playing on this stage make it not too much of a stretch to say this might be the biggest game for both conferences in recent memory. Both teams will have to deliver not only for the implications of their season, but the perceptions of their conferences.
At the start of this crazy year, who would have had App State and Marshall playing on CBS on their list of occurrences? This just shows the landscape of college football that the COVID-19 pandemic has created.
***Huge thanks to mattsarzsports.com for the TV rights info on this piece. His site is always a fun place to either reminisce or plan your watching activities for the weekend.