There is little drama at the top. With North Texas undefeated and looking so good, the voting pool (smaller this week with just 8 submissions at deadline) put the Mean Green number one unanimously. This makes sense as Seth Littrell’s team is receiving some Top 25 votes (including from Stadium’s own Brett McMurphy). Here is the tally this week.
- NT (8) – LW 1
- FAU – LW 2
- LT – LW 4
- Marshall – LW 3
- FIU – LW 5
- USM – LW 8
- UAB – LW 6
- MTSU – LW 7
- WKU – LW 12
- UTSA – LW 10
- ODU – LW 13
- Rice – LW 10
- Charlotte – LW 9
- UTEP – LW 14
Once again, my personal vote is in the comments section. Let us take stock of the league’s 14 teams.
- NT — No movement
North Texas is one with a bullet and that makes sense. While some folks in the offseason could have predicted an upset over Arkansas, whispers are that even Seth Littrell was telling fans at his coaching caravan stops that it was not in the cards. 4-0 is the ideal scenario — especially with that UnFair Catch call vs Arkansas. A big game looms this weekend hosting Louisiana Tech. The NT defense will have their hands full against a talented Bulldog squad with the first mobile QB faced thus far.
FAU — No movement
Lane Kiffin’s Owls do not look good right now, with talent prone to turnovers at QB and a defense that looks like a shell of its self from 2017. It is important to remember that Oklahoma and UCF are very good teams and have Heisman candidates at QB. Conference play begins this week with a relatively easy game against MTSU.
LT — ↑ 1 spot
Tech got some love from the committee for playing well in the near-comeback against LSU. It is hard to know exactly how good Skip Holtz’ crew are right now as the two wins were nice but left some room for questions. Adrian Hardy has drawn most of the J’Mar Smith passes, and has the talent to beat North Texas’ two corners for the kinds of jump balls that even Arkansas struggled with. This is the game of the week by far.
Marshall — ↓ 1 spot
The committee did not like Marshall’s loss to NC State by 17 after being only 6-point dogs going in. Isaiah Green struggled with just about 50% passing and two interceptions while the run game was bottled up. One of those INTs went for six when Marshall was trying to come back. One Herd score was a special teams TD. Still, only FAU is the the real competition in the East.
FIU — no movement
The voting committee did not mind the loss to Miami. It was ugly and the Golden Panthers did not impress against the ACC squad. The ACC is a lowly ranked as its been in a while … but so is C-USA.
USM — ↑ 2 spots
A nice win over Rice in what could have been a trap game. Rice showed some things early but a near-pick-six set up a 1-yard plunge that sparked an explosion for the Golden Eagles. Jay Hopson’s team is getting key guys back and the running back situation is a lot clearer with all the losses.
UAB — ↓ 1 spot
UAB does not play and drops? That is the way of things. One week and everyone forgets about you, I suppose. The Blazers are good and might be the second-best team in the west division. They get to beat up on Charlotte coming up this week.
MTSU — ↓ 1 spot
Rick Stockstill’s Blue Raiders do not look good and have to go up against the league’s defending champs this season. This should be the equivalent of the Tech-NT game for the east, but who believes the Blue Raiders are contenders in this division? Saturday is a great time to show everyone they are wrong.
WKU — ↑ 3 spots
The voters liked the win over Ball State. The run game looks like it has returned after nearly two seasons away. The sacks are still high 11 in four games — 2.75 per. Last year WKU allowed a league-worst 3.69 per game after only allowing ~1.5 in Brohm’s final season. Drew Eckels is not on the depth chart anymore, but it looks like the Hilltoppers have a QB they like in Duncan.
UTSA — No movement
The Roadrunners beat woeful Texas State thanks to a scoop-and-score and a safety late that sealed things 25-21. It is not something to be too excited about, but a win is a win and this doubled as a rivalry win to boot. Following up three (albeit not great) Power 5 road games with back-to-back home games against bottom-10 teams is a good way to right the ship. UTEP should be a win, but it could be a struggle.
ODU — ↑ 1 spot
The upset of the year, and perhaps of the decade. ODU gets some love but not too much. Blake LaRussa shined but there is concern that was a one-time thing. He did, after all, get some playing time last year and failed to show this kind of ability. Bobby Wilder probably saved his job (if it was truly under question) and gave this season a memory that is better than any CUSA-related Bowl win could possibly be.
Rice — ↓ 2 spots
Mike Bloomgren called out his team for not responding to the challenge in this game. The issue with the Owls is clear: the QB play has been mediocre. In wins, Shawn Stankavage looks great. In losses, he looks like a liability. It is a rebuilding year, but that run game still looks dangerous and will surprise some unsuspecting team.
Charlotte ↓ 4 spots
Just last week the 49ers beat ODU and it looked like things were going good for Brad Lambert. Then this week they get rocked by UMass — a team FIU handed easily — and we are left asking the same old questions.
UTEP — no movement
Losing to New Mexico State always hurts because it is a rivalry game. This used to be dominated by UTEP — eight straight wins from 2009 to 2016 — and now NMST has two-straight.
Players of the Week
Offense — Blake LaRussa QB, ODU
Defense — Oshane Ximines DE, ODU
Special — Jared Sackett K, UTSA
Week 5 Games
- Old Dominion at East Carolina (ESPN3) 2:30 pm
- Rice at Wake Forest (ACC RSN) 2:30 pm
- Southern Miss at (10) Auburn (SEC Net) 3:00 pm
- Charlotte at UAB (ESPN3) 6 pm
- FAU at Middle Tennessee (Stadium/FB) 6 pm
- UTEP at UTSA (ESPN+) 6 pm
- Arkansas-Pine Bluff at FIU (ESPN+) 6:30 pm
- LA Tech at North Texas (beIN) 6:30 pm
- Marshall at WKU (Stadium) 6:30 pm
Conference games in bold.