Group of 5 Conference Championship Previews 2022
After 12 grueling weeks of regular season play, it's time for conference championship weekend. The Group of Five has a ton of intriguing matchups to take in over the weekend, one of which will decide who plays in the Cotton Bowl.
The slate begins on Friday with Conference-USA's title game between North Texas (7-5) and No. 23 UTSA (10-2). The Roadrunners returned to the polls this week after receiving votes in the preseason.
UTSA began the campaign 1-2 and has rattled off nine consecutive victories, including a 31-27 triumph over the Mean Green in Week 8. The Roadrunners have back-to-back 10-win seasons for the first time in program history.
North Texas has been an exciting story. It has the oldest starting quarterback in Division 1 with 29-year-old Austin Aune and has had an up-and-down season. They backed their way into the conference championship and look to rain on UTSA's parade.
Aune's maturity shows in this game, and North Texas gets revenge.
Prediction: North Texas 35, UTSA 31
In the MAC, the Ohio Bobcats (9-3) and the Toledo Rockets (7-5) go to work at Ford Field. The Bobcats are searching for their first ten-win season since 2011 and their first conference title since 1968.
Running back Sieh Bangura has been a human highlight reel for Ohio averaging five yards per carry, and Toledo's defense has to prepare for him. Toledo hasn't had anyone ultimately breakout this season, but quarterback DeQuan Finn has been a top playmaker in the conference, compiling 29 total touchdowns.
Ohio is the better team. It has the star power on the ground and has a decent playmaker in quarterback Kurtis Rourke. The Bobcats should have no problem taking care of business.
Prediction: Ohio 27, Toledo 13
The Sun Belt Conference has been relatively strong over the past few years. The championship matchup is Coastal Carolina (9-2) versus Troy (10-2). If not for the heartbreaking events at the University of Virginia, this could’ve been a matchup of two 10-win teams.
Coastal Carolina has been a conference powerhouse since joining the FBS in 2017. Quarterback Grayson McCall became a household name and a solid NFL prospect with his insane efficiency numbers.
On the other side, Troy has had inconsistent quarterback play from Gunnar Watson, and even though the Trojans have won nine in a row, the quarterback mismatch will be too much.
Prediction: Coastal Carolina 31, Troy 24
Before the American started this incredible run, the Mountain West ran the Group of Five. The two competitors in this contest, Boise State (9-3) and Fresno State (8-4), are two of the best Group of Five programs.
This season, the Broncos went undefeated in conference play and had to do so with an inexperienced signal caller Taylor Green. The defense is the strength of this team, especially safeties JL Skinner and Rodney Robinson, who totaled seven combined interceptions.
Fresno State dropped the first meeting 40-20, but you can never count out the living legend that is quarterback Jake Haener. The second edition of The Battle of the Milk Can ends differently in the title game.
Prediction: Fresno State 27, Boise State 24
Now for the biggest game in the Group of Five. The American Athletic Conference championship between No. 22 UCF (9-3) and No. 18 Tulane (10-2).
Outside of Cincinnati, UCF is the other premier group of five team. Since 2017, the Knights have made two New Year's Six bowl games and are looking for their third. Quarterback John Rhys Plumlee looks primed for the job, but the Green Wave will not make it easy.
Before this season, Tulane hadn't been ranked since 1998. After going 2-10 last year, head coach Willie Fritz has completely revitalized this team.
Green Wave signal-caller Michael Pratt has 30 total touchdowns this season and has dragged this team from the depths to currently the highest ranked team in the Group of Five.
Tulane will dethrone UCF and play the biggest game in school history in the Cotton Bowl.
Prediction: Tulane 31, UCF 21
JC Colavita is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
About the Contributors
Second-year / Broadcast Journalism
JC Colavita is a second-year broadcast journalism student in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications. He is involved in CommRadio and hopes to hone his broadcasting skills calling Big Ten sports and enhancing his knowledge of sports and entertainment through his production of talk shows and podcasts. He has worked in college summer baseball as he worked for the 2021 Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League Champion Trenton Generals as the lead play-by-play man for their Youtube stream. At Hopewell Valley Central High School in Pennington, New Jersey, JC was a TV video and production class member where he wrote, filmed, edited and produced weekly segments, focusing on both professional and high school. As a driven and passionate broadcast journalism student who dreams of one day calling sports on the biggest stage, he intends to utilize his talents in front of and behind the camera to reach his goals. In the future, he hopes to be immortalized as the voice behind one of the most impactful moments in sports history.