Around the Group of 5: Week 7 (Football)

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There were a lot of good games in the Power 5 this week, but we can’t forget about the Group of 5. Let’s dive into the action this past weekend in the AAC, C-USA, Sun Belt and the Independent schools.

In the American Athletic Conference, it was a quiet week as there were only three games. A lot of teams including Cincinnati and SMU were on a bye.

East Carolina beat South Florida 44-24 to pick up its first win of the season. The Pirates got a big performance from junior quarterback Holton Ahlers. Ahlers threw for 222 yards and three touchdowns.

Navy improved to 2-2 after escaping with a 31-29 win against Temple. An unsuccessful Temple two-point conversion in the last minute sealed the game. Senior fullback Nelson Smith fueled the Midshipmen with 120 yards and two touchdowns.

In its long-awaited season opener, Houston topped Tulane 49-31, despite having five turnovers. Quarterback Clayton Tune’s 319 yards and 2 touchdowns anchored the Cougars offense. The Green Wave offense struggled as they dropped to 2-2 on the season.

This week, No. 17 SMU returns to action. The Mustangs head to New Orleans to face Tulane on Friday night. The game between No. 8 Cincinnati and Tulsa has been postponed due to positive COVID-19 cases on the Cincinnati team.

In the Conference USA, Marshall beat Western Kentucky 38-14 in their first game since Sept. 19.

The Thundering Herd were led by junior running back Brenden Knox as he ran 107 yards and three touchdowns. Senior linebacker Tavante Beckett also returned a fumble for a touchdown. Marshall improves to 3-0, as Western Kentucky drops to 1-3.

Middle Tennessee picked up its first win of the season in a 31-28 win over FIU. The Blue Raiders got a big performance from quarterback Asher O’Hara. O’Hara had 374 total yards with two passing and one rushing touchdowns.

The rest of the games saw Louisiana Tech top UTEP, 21-17. The Bulldogs’ three rushing touchdowns helped them improve to 3-1. The Miners fall to 3-2 on the season.

Charlotte got its first win of the season in a 49-21 stomping of North Texas. Quarterback Chris Reynolds threw for 290 yards and two touchdowns.

Over in the Sun Belt Conference, Arkansas State cruised by Central Arkansas 50-27.

Arkansas State improved to 2-2 on the year after the win. The Red Wolves were fueled by their passing game with six touchdowns. Quarterbacks Logan Bonner and Layne Hatcher threw for 3 touchdowns apiece.

Troy rebounded from its loss to BYU with a 37-17 win over Texas State. The Trojans were fueled by an impressive performance in the passing game. Sophomore quarterback Gunnar Watson threw for 338 yards and four touchdowns.

It was the battle of the unbeaten in the Sun Belt as Coastal Carolina visited No. 21 Louisiana on Wednesday night.

Coastal Carolina came out with a 30-27 upset after kicker Massimo Biscardi connected on a 40-yard field goal with four seconds left. Quarterback Grayson McCall led the way for the Chanticleers. McCall tossed two touchdowns and had a rushing touchdown.

Finally, the Independent schools, BYU, Army and Liberty continue to build off of their hot starts.

No. 15 BYU stayed undefeated as they topped a tough UTSA team, 27-20. The Cougars were led by Heisman contender Zach Wilson. Wilson threw for 292 yards and two touchdowns, he also had a rushing touchdown.

The Army Black Knights improved to 4-1 as they defeated The Citadel, 14-9. The Black Knights were carried by quarterback Jemel Jones. Jones had 124 total yards, one passing and one rushing touchdown. The defense also snagged two interceptions.

Liberty stayed undefeated as it cruised past Louisiana Monroe, 40-7. The Flames dominated in every aspect of the game. The special teams play was phenomenal, as the Flames two blocked punts for touchdowns and also had a 73-yard punt return for a touchdown.

This week the No. 14 BYU Cougars travel to face Houston. Army heads to the Alamodome to take on UTSA. Liberty is on the road as they face off against Syracuse. Finally, UMass will open its season against Georgia Southern.

 

Matt Scalzo is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email mms7477@psu.edu.