The (Not So) Little Guys: Playoff Party Crashers Among Us?

A big thanks goes out to Fudge for giving us a look at the big four atop the AAC last week.  Three of the four teams won last week, with Navy on a bye, the most impressive of which was Memphis’ upset over Ole Miss.  This week let’s take a look at some of the other “little guys” around the country and see which one’s might have an opportunity to crash the playoff with the right breaks.

10. Utah State Aggies (4-2)

Utah State QB Kent Myers (Photo Courtesy of Otto Kitsinger/AP Photo)
Utah State QB Kent Myers (Photo Courtesy of Otto Kitsinger/AP Photo)

What Utah State did to Boise State on Friday night is borderline illegal.  The Aggies have been hovering around the middle of the pack in the FBS ranks all season, but that win put the rest of the Mountain West Conference on notice.  Granted, the Aggies did take advantage of eight Boise State turnovers, but it was a pretty dominant performance nonetheless.  Utah State travels to San Diego to take on the Aztecs next Friday night.

9. Georgia Southern Eagles (5-1)

The Eagles opening day shutout loss to West Virginia doesn’t look as impressive today as it did a few weeks ago, but that remains they have reeled off five straight since then.  Southern is undefeated against non-Power Five teams and travels to Appalachian State this Thursday night in a game with major Sun Belt implications.  Also, the boys from Statesboro might just be the best triple option team in the state.

8. Navy Midshipmen (4-1)

A week off was probably just what the Surgeon General ordered after a tough loss to Notre Dame.  The Middies are back and raring to go though, and they’ll need to be with the way the other top teams in the AAC are playing.  Tulane comes to town this weekend as Navy will look to get to 3-0 in conference play.

7. Marshall Thundering Herd (6-1)

Rakeem Cato and the rest of the departed senior class were clearly awesome, because this year’s edition of the Thundering Herd is not in the same class as last year’s team.  All the same, Marshall still has only one loss and is very much in the hunt for the C-USA title.  Devon Johnson has been a beast this season and is currently sitting at 555 rushing yards on the season, while averaging 6.6 yards per carry.  The Herd will pick up a guaranteed win this weekend with North Texas, who is unquestionably the worst FBS team in the country, coming to town.

6. Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (6-1)

Sep 10, 2015; Bowling Green, KY, USA; Western Kentucky Hilltoppers wide receiver Taywan Taylor (2) runs the ball against Louisiana Tech Bulldogs cornerback Adairius Barnes (21) during the second half at Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium. Western Kentucky Hilltoppers won 41-38. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 10, 2015; Bowling Green, KY, USA; Western Kentucky Hilltoppers wide receiver Taywan Taylor (2) runs the ball against Louisiana Tech Bulldogs cornerback Adairius Barnes (21) during the second half at Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium. Western Kentucky Hilltoppers won 41-38. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports

Shall we call the Hilltoppers “Baylor Lite” at this point?  Western Kentucky has scored 40+ points in five of their seven games this season and have scored 49 or more in every game of their current four game winning streak.  Brandon Doughty continue shredding opponents with 2,709 passing yards, 24 touchdowns and four interceptions to date.  His top target Taywan Taylor is also putting up some gaudy numbers with 825 receiving yards and ten touchdown receptions.  The Hilltoppers will go through a real test this week when they go down to Death Valley to take on LSU.

5. Appalachian State Mountaineers (5-1)

Much like conference rival Georgia Southern, App State’s only loss was a blowout loss to a Power Five team (Clemson).  They have been dominant in every other game though scoring 37 or more points in all of their victories and never allowing more than 14 in any of those five games.  As mentioned earlier, they play Georgia Southern on Thursday night.

4. Memphis Tigers (6-0)

After passing their toughest test for the season last weekend, Memphis now looks like they have a legitimate shot to run the table.  The toughest remaining hurdle is a three-game stretch to open November against Navy, Houston, and Temple.  The latter two of those three are also road games.  The Tigers have the offensive firepower to keep up with Navy and Houston, and the showdown with the Owls will be a classic strength on strength battle.  However, the Tigers don’t want to get caught looking ahead as they travel to Tulsa this Friday night for a matchup that has “trap game” potential.

3. Houston Cougars (6-0)

Greg Ward, Jr. is one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the nation and has this offense firing on all cylinders.  The Cougars already have one Power Five win on their resume, and have a decent chance to add another when they host Vanderbilt on Halloween.  This week Houston goes down to Orlando to play arguably the most disappointing team in college football right now in UCF.

2. Toledo Rockets (6-0)

Toledo QB Phillip Ely (Photo Courtesy of Andrew Weber/Getty Images North America)
Toledo QB Phillip Ely (Photo Courtesy of Andrew Weber/Getty Images North America)

Sandwiched among the elite AAC teams is a Toledo team that already has wins over an SEC team (Arkansas) and a Big XII team (Iowa State).  The Rockets haven’t stopped there either rolling over Arkansas State, Ball State, Kent State and Eastern Michigan.  Former Alabama backup Phillip Ely has done a good job at the helm for this team and is pretty much just managing the offense and letting a good running game be the prime mover.  A trip to UMass is on the schedule for the Rockets this weekend.

1. Temple Owls (6-0)

This team should have been ranked way before now, but the old saying goes better late than never.  Matt Rhule’s team has been solid from day one after the surprising domination of Penn State.  The competition level has been much lower since then, and the Owls have survived a few tight ones against Cincinnati and UMass.  Temple travels to ECU this Thursday night before a Halloween showdown with Notre Dame.  If Temple can pull off yet another road upset over a “big boy” why shouldn’t they at least be in the playoff conversation?

 

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