Around the Group of Five: Week 12

Story posted November 17, 2021 in Sports, CommRadio by Sam Woloson

As the regular season winds down, the Group of Five teams all have something to fight for.

Some are battling to the top of their conference, others are looking for bowl eligibility and even the lowliest teams are playing for their own pride.

Here’s the latest from each conference.

American: Does Cincinnati truly have a Playoff chance?

The Cincinnati Bearcats (10-0, 7-0 AAC) were ranked No. 5 in the latest edition of the College Football Playoff rankings, but they may be further from the top 4 than people think.

Even if the Bearcats can win their conference championship and remain unbeaten, there is no guarantee they will get into the tournament over a one-loss, or even a two-loss, team.

The committee already favors one-loss teams in Alabama, Oregon and Ohio State. Even if one of those teams collapse, No. 6 Michigan and No. 7 Michigan State are right there to leapfrog Cincinnati with their harder schedules and more prestigious programs.

An unbeaten Cincinnati missing the playoffs would highlight a fundamental flaw in the system — but it’s a reality that is looking all the more likely as the weeks go on.

C-USA: UAB at UTSA is the de facto conference championship

Although in the same division, No. 15 UTSA (10-0, 6-0 C-USA) versus UAB (7-3, 5-1 C-USA) looks to be the best matchup of the year for the conference.

The Blazers have won two straight games and will be vying for an upset over a ranked opponent, while the Roadrunners hope to keep their dream season alive.

Not to mention, a UAB victory would put them squarely in first place of the division. There’s plenty on the line this week for the C-USA.

MAC: Division races are tight

The MAC finds a way to avoid national media attention, despite being the only conference to play Tuesday and Wednesday night games. Either way, games are being played and the division races are very close.

Northern Illinois leads the West division with a 5-1 conference record, but it has a trio of four-win teams nipping at its heels in Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan and Toledo.

In the East, Miami of Ohio leads at 5-2 in conference, with its only competition being Kent State at 4-2.

Mountain West: Utah State has the nation’s leading receiver and nobody knows about it

Utah State wide receiver Deven Thompkins leads the nation in receiving yards with 1,441 and 100-yard receiving games with 8.

At just 5-foot-8 in and 155 pounds, the senior is making his case for an NFL career while inspiring undersized receivers everywhere.

Thompkins was announced as a Biletnikoff Award semifinalist — the award given to the nation’s top receiver.

Sun Belt: Group of 5 Game of the Week: Louisiana at Liberty

It’s a non-conference game for the Ragin’ Cajuns of Louisiana as they will take on Liberty.

Louisiana (9-1, 7-0 Sun Belt) has won every game since a season-opening loss, but the Flames will be their toughest test on the schedule.

Liberty (7-3) has only been a full-fledged member of the FBS since 2019, yet has had near-immediate success. It has won two straight bowl games and is likely headed to another one.

Coming off a loss and a bye, the Flames will be ready to take out Louisiana.

 

Sam Woloson is a first-year majoring in journalism. To contact him, email skw5753@psu.edu.

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