The realignment news has caused some reevaluation of my own. We had just settled into something of a cadence when chaos was unleashed upon us. It is simply prudent to consider all of the factors. Having built up some relationships over the last two or three years, we want to continue to cover the 14 teams in their various destinations, but not necessarily all of the G5. That “beat” is too big and unwieldy. That might mean taking on new writers but it also means considering if this media outlet is the best form for it.
In any case that is something like an excuse as we figure it out.
UTSA Ranked and the West Division
UTSA and UAB are destined for a showdown game in San Antonio that should be for the west division. Of course, that can all change and the winner doesn’t necessarily get in directly but do you really think that UTSA is capable of dropping a game vs Southern Miss? They opened as a 29-point favorite at home vs the absolutely wretched Southern Miss squad. That is being generous to the Golden Eagles.
After that is the big game vs UAB. The Blazers have won every matchup betwixt the two programs including last year’s 21-13 win in Birmingham. The Roadrunners are very much like the Blazers in many respects with their determination to run the ball combined with a solid pass game. The difference is Frank Harris is a baller, while UAB has rolled out some passers with a penchant for big moments but not big stats. That is semantics, and what it means is that the team of the season (UTSA) will be taking on the team of the last two years in UAB. It is what we want to see.
After that UTSA plays in Denton. There is a storyline there where North Texas maybe upsets UTSA and gets a little mirrored revenge for the 2013 season in which a solid UTSA team went up to Denton and ended NT’s chance at a CUSA title+the home win streak. That is very unlikely and if UTSA wins at home vs UAB it would not matter except for ruining some CFP ranking.
UAB takes on Marshall this week, and that is *could* ruin things for UAB if they were to lose. However, again, given the possibility that UTSA could drop a game in the final week at least gives UAB hope. That means they could theoretically lose vs Marshall, win vs UTSA, and do some hoping and praying in the final week (and beat UTEP).
So UTSA vs UAB is the division decider.
The Runners took care of BIDNESS vs UTEP, and while the Miner fans were taking care of business in various beds of trucks and whatnot, the team was dominated on the field. This was not unexpected, considering any chance of the Runners being happy with their accomplishments and resting were nixed when they were snubbed. So we had an angry team on a bye ready for any UTEP tricks and a packed stadium. It was a great environment and awesome to see ESPN and real HD cameras bringing a quality broadcast. UTSA got to shine real brightly and UTEP could lose while saying “that’s fine we are still having a good season”.
WKU vs Marshall Decides The East
Marshall and WKU are both 4-1 but Western has lost to west-division opponent UTSA. They are good and solid and gave the Runners the best challenge before literally throwing the game away. The defense is the big worry but Bailey Zappe and the Stern brothers are the most exciting team in this conference.
WKU has a trip to Rice (blow out, picked -17 faves) followed by a home game vs FAU, then the big trip to Marshall that likely will decide the division. I liked FAU a ton, but they dropped big games at UAB and home against Marshall. They have an iffy defense and poor decision making at the QB position.
So we have a Marshall team that likes to turn the ball over and pads stats by throwing it late when up against a WKU team that has eaten up the weaker opponents but can light up anyone anywhere but maybe not stop anyone.
Here is what I like: WKU got the stop they needed vs UTSA and threw a bad pick on the way to tie. It was the opposite of what we thought would happen but it at least tells me that WKU could get a stop if they needed. Zappe and group put up 46 points on that solid UTSA defense (with a weak pass defense). Take all that into consideration when you think of FAU (turnover prone) traveling to Kentucky and when WKU travels to West Virginia.
I really like WKU — my dark horse pick in preseason — and I see a rematch vs UTSA in San Antonio on Friday, December 3rd, folks.
Note on Everyone Else
Charlotte is 3-2 and lost to both Marshall and WKU. I don’t see them winning out AND those other two losing twice more. One more win gets them bowl-eligible and that probably is this week vs a down Tech. Home vs Marshall and then followed by the finale at a hyped up ODU is tougher than normal.
FAU is pretty much done, as well but they will need WKU to win out except when they play FAU on November 20, obviously. You should also root for UAB this weekend, as Marshall is not likely dropping game vs Charlotte. But root against Marshall the rest of the way is the plan.
Middle, ODU, FIU — done in the conference, but are playing spoiler, playing for pride, and maybe a bowl game (Middle).
UTEP is pretty much done in the division after losing to UTSA, as (again) the Runners would need to drop three straight. Not happening. The Miners are bowl-eligible but getting some bonus wins will boost their value when it comes to choosing-time.
North Texas is done in the conference, but has an outside chance of getting to bowl eligibility with two relatively winnable games followed by the most tough game at the end (UTEP, at FIU, UTSA). It is enough to care about, if you are a Mean Green fan.
Rice is done in the division but also can get to Bowl Eligibility and also play spoiler. Home vs WKU, at UTEP, and then home vs Tech. Doable, but not likely. Disappointing season for Bloomgren.
Tech and USM — disappointing and now it is about pride and building for next year.