Around the Group of 5: Week 4 (Football)
While most of the focus on this season has been on the uncertainty surrounding the five major conferences kicking off their seasons, the Group of Five conferences that are playing seem to be showing no fear against some of the nation’s best programs. So, let’s take a look at how the AAC, C-USA, and Sun Belt conferences fared in Week 3.
In the American Athletic Conference, Cincinnati locked up its Top 25 status for the week by dropping a whopping 55 points on Austin-Peay. Cincinnati’s senior running back Gerrid Doaks powered the Bearcats to a win with 20 yards rushing, 64 yards receiving, and four total touchdowns on the game.
Tulsa nearly unseated No. 11 Oklahoma State University, but ultimately lost 16-7 due to a poor performance from quarterback Zach Smith, who threw for 166 yards with an interception. Although they got lucky this time, Mike Gundy and his Oklahoma State squad do have some questions marks defensively that need to be addressed going forward the rest of the year.
Navy erased a 24-point deficit against Tulane to come back and win by three points thanks to a great performance from sophomore fullback Jamale Carothers, who ran for 127 yards on 25 carries.
Switching gears to the Conference USA, Marshall got a huge win over No. 23 Appalachian State to earn their spot at No. 25 in the new AP Poll. Although freshman quarterback Grant Wells struggled in this game, Marshall’s running game powered the Thundering Herd with 216 total yards and two touchdowns.
The rest of these games were either blowouts or expected wins, except for a last-minute victory by Louisiana Tech over Southern Missouri. In a dramatic finish, an overturned call from the officials gave Louisiana Tech an opportunity to score with less than 20 seconds on the clock.
Louisiana Tech took advantage and scored a four-yard touchdown to steal the win from Southern Missouri in one of the most exciting games of the week.
Wrapping up with the Sun Belt Conference, the No. 19 Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns picked up another big win with an overtime victory over the Georgia State Panthers. The Ragin’ Cajuns were fueled by senior running back Elijah Mitchell’s explosive performance.
Mitchell finished with 164 yards on the ground and a pair of touchdowns on 16 rushing attempts. The senior could very well propel the Ragin’ Cajuns to a possible bowl game by the end of the season.
A player to keep an eye on after this week is the freshman quarterback of Coastal Carolina, Grayson McCall. Although Coastal Carolina beat down an unknown team in the Campbell Fighting Camels, McCall was about as efficient as a quarterback can be, ending the game with 273 yards and two touchdowns, while averaging about 17 yards per attempt and completing almost 70 percent of his passes.
Although the Mid-American Conference and Mountain West Conference won’t be joining their fellow conferences this fall, the Group of Five has made it clear they’re not bowing down anytime soon.
Matthew McLaughlin is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.