Jamey Chadwell, Coastal Carolina
The Chanticleers had a much needed bye this week. Next week they head to Marshall for an important game (we’ll get to the Herd in a second).
Tyson Helton, Western Kentucky
Western Kentucky 20-UAB 17. This was a big win for Western Kentucky as they are now the favorites to take on UTSA in the CUSA Championship Game. But this win is less impressive than it looks on paper. UAB was leading until their starting quarterback got hurt in the first quarter. The Hilltopper’s passing attack went completely missing (just 128 yards). They couldn’t stop UAB’s running back. DeWayne McBride gashed them for 197 yards on 24 carries although WKU forced two fumbles off him. Still, a win is a win. Next week they welcome North Texas to town. The winner of this game will probably go to the Championship Game so it’s a second must-win in a row. Hopefully they play better this time.
Shawn Clark, Appalachian State
The Mountaineers were down 14-0 to Georgia State in the first quarter of their home game this week. It looked like Clark was letting the team spiral. Then App State outscored Georgia State 42-3 the rest of they way. Like WKU, they couldn’t pass this week (Chase Brice was just 7/17 for 62 yards). But the team combined for 404 yards on 6.2 yards per carry. They were giving up rushing yards, but didn’t give up anything passing which was important with their lead for the second half. I’m glad to see they didn’t spiral and were able to turn things around. That’s tough to do as a coach. Next week they get a virtual bye when they host Robert Morris, a winless FCS team.
Sean Lewis, Kent State
Last week I said that the game against Akron was a must-win for Sean Lewis and Kent State. The Golden Flashes did win, but woof. A home game against 1-6 Akron should not have gone to the wire, but it did before Kent State finally pulled it out 33-27. Now the Golden Flashes are just playing for a bowl. They get a bye next week before hosting Ball State next Tuesday.
Mike Houston, East Carolina
East Carolina didn’t just beat UCF, they destroyed them. The game ended 34-13 and the Pirates controlled the entire game. Holton Ahlers threw 30-36 for 311 yards and a touchdown (he ran for one too). They forced four UCF turnovers (3 interceptions) while not giving up any. This was a complete performance by an improving team. With 2 conference losses the Pirates are probably not going to make the AAC Championship Game, but they are 5-3 and should be aiming for 8 wins. This week you can watch them on Friday night when they head to BYU (who really IS spiraling). The Pirates will probably be favored in that one.
Bill O’Brien, Alabama (OC)
Alabama had a bounce back game against Mississippi State 30-7. The offense in general did what they needed to do with no turnovers and only a single penalty (illegal formation). It’s a little worrying that they couldn’t get any sort of run game going when they were just trying to put the game away for the whole second half. Jahmyr Gibbs had just 37 yards on 10 carries. That’s something to keep an eye on.
Charles Huff, Marshall
Marshall continued the Sun Belt gauntlet this week with a trip to face James Madison. The Thundering Herd were losing after the first quarter 12-2 and I was on the verge of removing Huff from this article. But, Marshall turned it around and scored 24 unanswered points to finish the 26-12 win. This win was all about the defense. They forced four interceptions and 4.7 yards per passing attempt and the quarterback had 13 runs/sacks for -23 yards. They dominated the game. Marshall hosts Coastal Carolina next week as the gauntlet continues. Let’s see how the defense does against McCall and company.
Kane Wommack, South Alabama
South Alabama hosted Troy on Thursday in maybe their biggest game ever in FBS. They sold out their stadium and had a hyped crowd. Then the Jaguars let them down with a 10-6 stinker. This was a true defensive struggle. Troy had a 73-yard touchdown drive early in the game and that was pretty much it. South Alabama only made it to the red zone a single time and settled for a field goal. This was a disappointing loss for a promising team. This team could still make the Sun Belt Championship game and is virtually a lock for a bowl game. Next week they head to Arkansas State for what should be their sixth win. If they lose that one then it might be time to start panicking a little.
Deion Sanders, Jackson State
The Tigers didn’t dominate, but they did come away with the non-conference win against Campbell to get to 7-0. Next week they host Southern for a big SWAC matchup. With just 4 games left, the undefeated 11-0 season seems well within reach.