Good morning, everyone. Zach here filling in for Kevin on this week’s Group of Five update.
It was a great weekend for the American, and it became that way before Saturday even started. Boise State’s slopfest loss to Utah State on Friday night all but eliminated the Broncos and, thus, the entire Mountain West from Group of Five contention. The entire conference now has at least two losses (in fact, Utah State and Boise State are the only MW teams without at least three losses) and not a quality non-conference win to share among its 12 members. The league at one point had a 21-game non-conference losing streak, lowlighting what will likely shape up to be a forgettable season for the perennially strong conference.
The Mountain West’s loss, it appears, will be the American’s gain. Memphis’s historic 37-24 win over No. 13 Ole Miss will likely give the conference two top-25 teams when the polls come out later today and kept the conference steady at three undefeated teams. Fellow unbeatens Houston (42-7 over Tulane) and Temple (30-16 over Central Florida) took care of business against AAC also-rans, setting up what should be a dandy of a conference championship race. Temple (6-0) is alone in first place in the American East and has a great resume boost opportunity coming later this month when Notre Dame visits Lincoln Financial Field. The West, meanwhile, has three viable contenders in Memphis, Houston and 4-1 Navy. That troika has still yet to play each other. Memphis hosts Navy Nov. 7, Houston hosts Memphis Nov. 14, and Houston hosts Navy on Nov. 27. Whoever emerges will likely face Temple for the AAC crown and a Peach or Fiesta bowl berth on the line.
If all four of those teams were to collapse in on themselves, however, Toledo is more than ready to pick up the slack. The 6-0 Rockets thumped Eastern Michigan 63-20 on Saturday, but the rest of their slate will not be so easy. Preseason MAC contenders Northern Illinois, Bowling Green and Western Michigan still lay ahead over the Rockets’ final six games.
In Conference USA, everything is building toward a de facto championship game between Western Kentucky (6-1, 4-0 C-USA) and Marshall (6-1, 3-0 C-USA). The winner of that one, Nov. 27 in Bowling Green, will be heavily favored to beat the West champion in the C-USA title game the following week.
Finally, the Sun Belt title will likely be decided on Thursday when Georgia Southern visits Appalachian State on Thursday night. If either of those two were to drop the ball, Arkansas State and Louisiana-Lafayette remain the top contenders to claim the Sun Belt crown.