Well, we’ve reached the end of the regular season and we’re on to conference championship games and speculation about the College Football Playoff. Unfortunately for the Group of Five, there’s no undefeated national darling competing for a potential spot. The best outcome for the non-Power Five is a good showing in the Cotton Bowl. And it appears that spot will go to one of three teams: Memphis, Boise State, or Cincinnati.
But since it’s the final weekly rundown of the year, let’s make the most of it with an extended version.
Clayton Tune, QB Houston
Following D’Eriq King’s announcement to redshirt the season, Houston lost some of their intrigue, but Tune did his best to fill the void. In seven games, he passed for 1,533 yards and 11 touchdowns with a 58.6% completion percentage. Including his limited work during 2018, he has a career adjusted yards per attempt of 7.4. His interceptions are somewhat concerning as he has nine for the season and a career 19-to-11 TD-to-INT ratio. However, he brought some excitement to Houston’s offense, last week, with 393 passing yards and four TDs. He ranked fourth in the FBS in passing yards. He only managed to lead his team to a 2-5 record during his time on the field, but his production is worth watching next season.
With their 4-8 record, Houston’s season finished last week.
Jaret Patterson, RB Buffalo
I discussed Patterson after Week 10, but I can’t ignore him following this performance. During Buffalo’s 49 to 7 win over Bowling Green, Patterson rushed for an eye-popping 298 yards and six TDs on 26 carries. He led the FBS in rushing yards for the week. For the year, this brings him to 1,626 yards and 17 TDs. His 5.8 yard-per-carry average is adequate, albeit somewhat unimpressive, but as a sophomore, he has time to improve. Pairing his rushing production with 13 receptions for 209 yards and Patterson appears to be an under-the-radar prospect to watch for the future.
Buffalo failed to reached the MAC championship game, but are bowl eligible and will find out their matchup this weekend.
Damonte Coxie, WR, Memphis
In a crucial American Athletic Conference matchup, Coxie showed up for his team. He tallied 145 yards and a TD on six receptions in Memphis’s win over Cincinnati. Coxie leads his team with a 28% market share of yards and a 0.28 dominator rating. He’ll look to eclipse 1,000 yards for the second straight year and he only needs 21 yards to reach the threshold. Back-to-back seasons with over 16 yards per reception have demonstrated Coxie’s ability to create big plays. While he’s unlikely to have a high draft capital, Coxie appears to be a decent flier prospect when he eventually enters the NFL draft.
Is this deja vu? Nope, Memphis plays a rematch against Cincinnati, this week, once again at home. Coxie found success against Cincinnati’s secondary last week. There’s no reason to expect him to be held in check this week.
Other Notable Players
Mike Glass had the fifth-most passing yards in Eastern Michigan’s loss to Kent State. He has over 2,800 passing yards with a 67.8 percent completion percentage, this year.
Carson Strong finished his freshman season with 351 yards and a TD against UNLV.
Shamari Brooks notched his fourth outing of the year with more than 100 yards. His 202 yards ranked fifth in the FBS.
Western Michigan may have come up short against Northern Illinois, but LeVante Bellamy put on a performance with 128 yards and two TDs.
Skyy Moore wrapped up the regular season of his freshman campaign with 125 yards on 9 receptions. His 25 percent market share of yards makes him an intriguing prospect moving forward.
Khalil Shakir recorded his second 100-yard receiving performance of the year. He remains an interesting prospect with a 23 percent market share of yards as a sophomore.
Week 5 Group of Five Conference Championship Games
Since it’s conference championship game week, it seems only fair to extend this section to give short previews of all of the Group of Five games this weekend.1 If you’ve been listening to the RotoViz CFB Show this season, you know that these games have been my favorite bets. So to spice up the featured matchups, I’ll throw in my pick on the current line.
Cincinnati at Memphis
I know, I know. I did this game as the featured matchup last week and it’s a rematch on the same field again this week, but this time, the American Athletic Conference Championship is on the line. In last week’s game, Michael Warren and Coxie were the standouts. In this game, I’m watching TE Josiah Deguara of Cincinnati. He’s accounted for a 21% market share of yards and a 0.30 dominator rating, this year. From Memphis, Coxie is the primary receiving target, accounting for 28% of yards, and Kenneth Gainwell is the primary RB to watch.
My Pick: Cincinnati (+9)
Louisiana at Appalachian State
As with many of these matchups, these two teams met earlier in the year and in that matchup, Appalachian State walked away with a 17-to-7 road win. Louisiana mostly held RB Darrynton Evans in check as he only accounted for 69 yards on 22 carries, but QB Zac Thomas scored twice which proved to be the difference. For Appalachian State to win again, I think they’ll need a better performance from Evans so I’ll be watching him. On the Louisiana side, keep an eye on the backfield as Elijah Mitchell, Trey Ragas, and Raymond Calais each have more than 700 rushing yards.
My Pick: Appalachian State (-6)
Miami (OH) at Central Michigan
The two MAC teams didn’t meet during the regular season so we get a fresh matchup in the championship game. In year 1, coach Jim McElwain completed turned around a Central Michigan team that went 1-11 in 2018. From a prospect perspective, Kobe Lewis is my primary focus. His 953 yards ranks second on CMU and he added on 11 TDs. With leader, Jonathan Ward wrapping up his final season, Lewis should get a heavy workload during his junior year.
My Pick: Central Michigan (-7)
UAB at Florida Atlantic
The Conference USA Championship will be decided between two somewhat contrasting teams. UAB averaged nine points less per game than FAU during the regular season, but also held their opponents under 20 points per game. FAU mostly leaned on a strong offensive attack to get wins. From a prospect perspective, I’m watching two FAU players: QB Chris Robison and TE Harrison Bryant. Robison has over 3,000 passing yards and a better than 4-to-1 TD-to-INT ratio. As a sophomore starter, he’s a potential NFL prospect if he can put together two more productive years. Bryant has been the top receiving option for FAU. His 965 yards and six TDs lead the team. He could be a Day 3 sleeper in the NFL draft.
My Pick: Florida Atlantic (-7.5)
Hawaii at Boise State
Not only does Hawaii have to travel to the mainland for the conference championship, but they have to play against one of the better home-field advantages in college football. The previous matchup resulted in a 59-to-39 Boise State victory. Cedric Byrd was held under 100 yards and without a score in that game. He’s the primary Hawaii prospect to watch here. For Boise State, both Khalil Shakir and RB George Holani are legitimate prospects to keep an eye on.
My Pick: Hawaii (+14)
Image Credit: Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: George Holani.
- I’m skipping Army at Navy because it’s not a conference championship game. Also, Navy is gonna win. (back)