Around the Group of 5: Week Three

Story posted September 24, 2021 in Sports, CommRadio by Grant Sheets

We witnessed a wild weekend for the Group of Five and Independents, headlined by several major upsets over Power 5 teams.

Let’s focus our attention on college football Week 3 highlights from the Group of 5 and Independents.

The AAC’s biggest storyline came from east Memphis, as the Tigers defeated Mississippi State 31-29 after questionable officiating gave Memphis an 11-point lead in the late stages of the game.

In the fourth quarter, A Mississippi State punt was downed deep into Memphis territory, which should have caused the play to be blown dead. Memphis wide receiver Calvin Harris proceeded to scoop the ball up and took it the distance for his third touchdown of the day. The call on the field was upheld, sending the Tigers off with a controversial win and a 3-0 start to the season.

The No. 8 Cincinnati Bearcats moved to 3-0 on the year after fighting back from an early 14-0 deficit to escape an upset against Indiana. Quarterback Spencer Rattler struggled throughout the game, but his defense stepped up in a big way, intercepting Michael Penix Jr. on three occasions.

While UCF surely was not pleased with their 42-35 defeat to Louisville, their biggest loss of the day occurred after quarterback Dillon Gabriel broke his clavicle. Gabriel will be a hard piece to replace in the Knights offense, after throwing for nine scores to open the year.

The UTSA Roadrunners stayed hot this weekend, defeating Middle Tennessee 27-13, and retaining first place in Conference USA. The Roadrunners’ defense was an immovable force in this one, holding Middle Tennessee to 191 yards in the air and only 8 rushing yards.

Despite a 42-38 loss to ECU, Marshall’s offense continues to roll. The Thundering Herd have put up 40 points in three consecutive contests and will look to rebound against Appalachian State.

This week in the MAC featured two high-scoring affairs from both Western and Eastern Michigan, who are neck and neck in the West at 2-1.

In a back-and-forth affair, Western Michigan stunned Pitt 44-41 on Saturday, just a week after the Panthers took down Tennessee.

Quarterback Kaleb Eleby continued his efficient season, leading the way with 357 yards, 3 scores, and no turnovers.

Behind running back Jawon Hamilton’s 122 yards on the ground, Eastern Michigan was able to hold off a UMass comeback in a 42-28 victory.

Fresno State’s massive 40-37 upset over No. 13 UCLA was the talk of the Mountain West this week, as the Bulldogs continued their impressive play and moved to 3-1.

Despite a 20-point fourth quarter from the Bruins, Fresno State was able to hold on after a last-minute touchdown from Jake Haener to Jaelen Cropper. The Bulldogs will have their first conference game against the UNLV Rebels.

San Diego State grabbed their second straight win against a Pac-12 opponent, taking down Utah 33-31 in triple overtime.

It was another dominant game for running back Greg Bell, who ran the pigskin 33 times for 119 yards and a pair of scores. Bell now has 405 rushing yards in the first three games of the season, the fourth-most in the country.

In the Sun Belt, No. 16 Coastal Carolina avoided a near-collapse against Buffalo, moving to 3-0 on the year at the top of the conference.

However, the Louisiana Rajon Cajons trail right behind them after improving to 2-1 following a 49-14 massacre of Ohio. Louisiana was dominant on the ground all night, rushing for over 300 total yards.

The Independents had another great week, suffering only one loss over the weekend.

No. 23 BYU continued their winning ways, forcing four Arizona State turnovers in a 27-17 win. Meanwhile, Liberty quarterback Malik Willis had another outstanding week, tossing four touchdowns in a 45-17 thrashing of ODU.

Notre Dame had another unimpressive win this weekend, defeating Purdue 27-13. The No. 12 Fighting Irish have played against three unranked teams this season, winning each game by a total margin of just 20 points.

Grant Sheets is a first-year student majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email gcs5231@psu.edu