Around the Group of 5: Week 11 (Football)
The Group of Five may be as deep as the conferences have ever been, and the play on the field has been outstanding. The conferences have five teams ranking in the AP Top 25 and two teams in the top 15.
The team that has separated itself from the rest is Cincinnati. The Bearcats are 6-0 and ranked seventh in the nation. They are scoring 39.3 points per game and are doing it with a great balanced attack. Desmond Ridder has been a great quarterback for the Bearcats, and the stats back it up. Ridder has 1,156 passing yards and 394 rushing yards. He has 19 total touchdowns and has the Bearcats off to a tremendous start.
The Bearcats have a great offense, but their defense is what has them in the playoff conversation. The Cincinnati defense has been great all year, allowing just 11.7 points per game. Their rush defense has been phenomenal, allowing just 96.3 rushing yards per game. If the Bearcats are going to continue their run for an American Conference championship and a possible College Football Playoff berth, then the defense will have to continue its stellar play.
Arguably the most surprising team in the Group of Five has been the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers. The Chanticleers are 7-0 and rolling in the Sun Belt. They are a complete team and can win in different ways. They have the 37th-best offense and the 15th-best defense in the nation. Their defense has been especially good against the pass, ranking 10th. The Chanticleers are on the rise, and a potential New Year’s Six Bowl could be in the mix for Coastal Carolina.
A huge game will take place in the Mountain West this week. Boise State takes on Colorado State on Thursday, Nov. 12. Boise State is coming off an embarrassing 51-17 loss to BYU and is looking to bounce back against the Rams. Colorado State has been able to play only two games this season and is 1-1 as a result. This game could have huge implications in the Mountain West.
Another interesting game on the slate takes place when Georgia State goes on the road to play the Mountaineers of Appalachian State. App State is 5-1 and seems like a viable challenger in the Sun Belt to Coastal Carolina. Georgia State has been up and down all year. Outside of their 51-0 defeat to Coastal Carolina, the Panthers have been competitive in all of their games. If App State can win this game, then it will set up a huge matchup with Coastal Carolina with conference title implications.
A final intriguing matchup for the weekend is when Marshall takes on Middle Tennessee at noon on Saturday, Nov. 14. Marshall enters the game undefeated and ranked 16th in the polls. The Thundering Herd are trying to challenge Cincinnati and Coastal Carolina as the best of the bunch, and that makes every game a must-win. Marshall had not been ranked since 2014, so the buzz around football in Huntington, West Virginia is massive.
The MAC, of course, is giving the nation MACtion during the week as well. The MAC may be the most wide open conference, and entertaining football is always guaranteed when the MAC is on.
The MAC had some very entertaining Tuesday night games. Ohio defeated Akron 24-10 to get their first win of the season. Kent State dominated Bowling Green 62-24 to get to 2-0. Buffalo also moved to 2-0 after a 42-10 triumph over Miami of Ohio. The MAC season is still early, but Buffalo and Kent State seem like the frontrunners.
The Group of Five has a lot of viable contenders this season for a New Year’s Six Bowl, and the possibility of getting two teams into those bowl games is unbelievable. Only time will tell which teams get to represent the group on the national stage. But the teams in the conversation all are complete teams that have the ability to compete with anyone in the nation.
Adam Sheetz is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.