College Football Conference Championship Preview: Group of Five

ncaa football

I’ve already written about the Power Five conference championship matchups that are happening. This time, the Group of Five games will be previewed. Same format as before.

  • AAC: #21 Houston Vs. #4 Cincinnati; 12/4, 4 pm EST, ABC; 23-1, that’s the combined record of the two teams facing off in the AAC championship. At 12-0 and with a win over Notre Dame, Cincinnati could find themselves in the playoffs with a victory on Saturday. Houston will look to make sure that it does not happen. Both starting quarterbacks, Desmond Ridder and Clayton Tune have thrown for at least 3000 yards and more than 25 touchdowns. Both starting running backs, Jerome Ford and Alton McCaskill have rushed for over 15 touchdowns. The difference in the game could be Houston’s pass rush, which has produced 41 sacks on the year. One thing is certain. If Cincinnati does make it to the playoff, it will be well earned after this game. Prediction: Cincinnati.
  • C-USA: Western Kentucky vs. UTSA; 12/3, 7 pm EST, CBSSN; UTSA has quietly had one of the best seasons in college football this year. The team didn’t lose their first game until the final week of the season against North Texas. Quarterback Frank Harris had almost 2700 yards and 23 touchdowns passing while adding almost 500 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. Running back Sincere McCormick has rushed for almost 1300 yards and 12 touchdowns. Western Kentucky’s quarterback Bailey Zappe led the nation this year in passing with over 4900 and touchdowns with 52 and wide receiver Jerreth Sterns led the nation in catches with 127. If UTSA can slow down Western Kentucky’s game the game could be theirs. Prediction: UTSA.
  • MAC: Kent State Vs. Northern Illinois; 12/4, 12 pm EST, ESPN; A conference championship matchup between an 8-4 and 7-5 teams. Seems like something that would never happen, yet here it is. This is a rematch from earlier this year that ended in Kent State winning a shoot out 52-47. During the season, both teams rushed for more yards than passing and had over twice as many touchdowns on the ground than through the air. A big play or two from the passing game could be the difference. Northern Illinois’ Trayvon Rudolph and Kent State’s Dante Cephas are players to watch for. Prediction: Northern Illinois.
  • MWC: Utah State Vs. #19 San Diego State; 12/4, 3 pm EST, Fox; San Diego State‘s season was another one that didn’t get a lot of attention. The team lost one game all year and finished 11th in the nation in total defense and ninth in points allowed. Defensive lineman Cameron Thomas had 10.5 sacks on the year. They will be tested though by Utah State’s offense as quarterback Logan Bonner passed for over 3200 yards and 32 touchdowns. Wide receiver Deven Thompkins led the nation in receiving yards with 1543. Utah State was able to overcome a two-game losing streak in the middle of the season and finish with a 9-3 record. Prediction: San Diego State.
  • Sun-Belt: Appalachian State Vs. #24 Louisiana; 12/4, 3:30 pm EST, ESPN; Another game with an 11-1 team? Louisiana lost their first game against Texas and then rallied off 11 straight victories. One of those wins was a 41-13 blowout against Appalachian State. That was one of two losses that Appalachian State had during the season, the other being a close game against Miami 25-23. Both teams have running back duos that will be counted on during this game. Louisiana’s Chris Smith and Montrell Johnson have combined to rush for over 1600 yards and 19 touchdowns. Appalachian State’s Nate Noel and Camerun Peoples rushed for a combined 1800 yards and 17 touchdowns. There will also be pass rushers to look out for, with Chauncey Manac for Louisiana and Nick Hampton for Appalachian State. Prediction: Louisiana.