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Tea Time: Checking on the Group of Five bowl games after Week 2

It wasn’t a great week for the MAC, while the Mountain West sits pretty at the top after a trifecta in Week 2.

Illustration: James H. Jimenez | Screenshot: Nintendo | Mascot photographs: Big Red (Silas Grey/Getty Images) and Buster Bronco (screenshot: EA Sports) | Photograph of PJ Fleck (Screenshot: ESPN)

Week 2 of Bowl Season was full of some of the best action of the postseason thus far. The start of the Playoff and New Year’s Six games certianly helped with that, but a lot of the lower bowls also saw plenty of dramatics.

The Group of Five especially had a pretty good go at it, combining for a 6-5 record in bowl games they appeared in, including two wins vs. Power Five programs and a win against a Power Five-equivalent independent.

There’s still time left for a few more good wins as well, with a handful of G5 vs. P5 matchups to go, and the G5 table could see significant movement in Week 3 as well.

Let’s check in on how things are going with our friends around the league:


The Table

Conference Week 1 Week 2 Total record Record vs. P5 (or equivalent)
Mid-American 2-1 0-2 2-3 0-1
Sun Belt 2-1 0-1 2-2 n/a
Mountain West 1-2 3-0 4-2 2-1
Conference USA 1-3 1-1 2-4 1-0
American 0-1 2-2 2-3 1-1

The MAC took a couple lumps in Week 2, most notable in the Quick Lane and First Responers Bowl, which were both lost in the last minute. But that hasn’t really impacted their positioning in the table for the most part.

The Mountain West was easily the most successful of the G5 conferences in Week 2, scoring wins in all three matchups, including two over Power Five teams (BYU, an independent, counts as a P5 for our purposes.)

After going winless in the first week, the American went 2-2 in Week 2, which is surely a bit of relief for the conference, which faces the touhest bowl schedule of the Group of Five.

With just a handful of games left, the title for Best G5 Conference of the 2019 Bowl Season is still up for grabs.


The Games

Bad Boys Mowers Gasparilla Bowl: UCF 48, Marshall 25

NCAA Football: Gasparilla Bowl-Central Florida vs Marshall Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

It was a sloppy and strange game in Tampa Bay’s Raymond James Stadium, as UCF cruised to a win against Marshall. Bad conditions and start-and-stop play resulted in several turnovers and a lot of chippiness as the game slipped out of control for the Thundering Herd. UCF took advantage of the turnovers and made the game all but academic by the second quarter, (recap by Underdog Dynasty’s Jake Auten)


Hawai’i Bowl: Hawai’i 38, BYU 34

NCAA Football: Hawaii Bowl-Brigham Young vs Hawaii Marco Garcia-USA TODAY Sports

Old WAC rivals met again for the first time since 2009 when they came together for this Christmas Eve bash on the island, with the “visiting” Rainbow Warriors having to mount a comeback rally in the final minutes to take home a trophy. Cole McDonald tore the BYU defense apart with 495 yards and four touchdowns (with three TDs in the first half) to force BYU into keeping pace. (recap by Associated Press)


Walk-On’s Bistro Independence Bowl: Louisiana Tech 14, Miami (FL) 0

NCAA Football: Independence Bowl-Louisiana Tech vs Miami Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Louisiana Tech pulled off a Power Five “upset” over a Miami Hurricanes team which looked consistently outmatched in every aspect. LA Tech reached 10 wins on the season and continued to add onto their bowl game win streak, collecting their sixth in a row. Miami was held to a shutout in the postseason for just the third time in program history; they fired their offernsive coordinator, fomer CMU head coach Dan Enos, two days later. (recap by Underdog Dynasty’s Tanner Spearman)


Quick Lane Bowl: Pitt 34, Eastern Michigan 30

Kenneth Bailey

It was a game the Eagles dominated from the start, taking the lead early and never looking back... until the final minute, when Kenny Pickett hit Taysir Mack for a Randy Moss-esque one-handed touchdown to put Pitt up by four with less than a minute to go. It was yet another one-score bowl game loss for EMU, who’s still looking for their first postseason win since 1987. Mike Glass III’s punching fit putting an exclamation mark on the meltdown (recap by Hustle Belt’s Kenneth Bailey)


Military Bowl: UNC 55, Temple 13

NCAA Football: Military Bowl-North Carolina vs Temple Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Rod Carey’s first outing as head coach of the Temple Owls didn’t quite go to plan, as UNC scored 31-straight points to lock the game down by the third quarter after Temple put the game at 10-6 in the second quarter. It’s Temple’s second-straight loss to an ACC team—and their second bowl game giving up 50+ points. (recap by Underdog Dynasty’s Joe Serpico)


Cheez-It Bowl: Air Force 31, Washington State 21

NCAA Football: Cheez-It Bowl-Air Force vs Washington State Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

There’s an old adage that it’s hard to score if you don’t have the ball, and that’s what Washington State learned the hard way. Air Force’s triple option befuddled the Wazzu defense, as the Falcons would hold onto the ball for nearly 45 minutes en route to a double-digit victory. Kadin Remsburg (178 yards, one touchdown) and Taven Birdow (108 yards, one touchdown) combined for nearly 300 yards on the ground from the tailback position. (recap by NBC Sports’ Bryan Fischer)


Cotton Bowl Classic: #10 Penn State 53, #17 Memphis 39

NCAA Football: Cotton Bowl Classic-Memphis vs Penn State Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Memphis Tigets punched first, quickly running away with a 13-7 lead over Penn State to start the game off in style. It all fell apart in the seconde quarter, however, as the Nittany Lions picked up 28 points before the half to take a 35-23 lead into the break. Memphis couldn’t get an offensive rhythm going in the second half, as the PSU defense ramped up intensely to secure the win. (recap by Hustle Belt’s Steve Helwick for Underdog Dynasty)


SERVPRO First Responders Bowl: WKU 23, Western Michigan 20

NCAA Football: First Responder Bowl-Western Kentucky vs Western Michigan Tim Flores-USA TODAY Sports

Western Michigan found themselves on the wrong end of a one-possession loss with stakes yet again to end the season in the First Responders Bowl, as they sat helplessly watching WKU win the game in walk-off fashion thanks to an untimed down. The penalty was a result of having 12 men on the field on a WKU Hail Mary attempt, which would have forced overtime otherwise. WMU wouldn’t have been in this position in the first place if not for a series of bungled plays the possession before. It was another strange game which left WMU fans asking a lot of questions. (recap by Hustle Belt’s Steve Helwick)


Auto Zone Liberty Bowl: Navy 20, Kansas State 17

NCAA Football: Liberty Bowl-Navy vs Kansas State Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Navy pulled out all the stops against Kansas State, including a trick pass to set up the game-winning field goal, to take home the Liberty Bowl in dramatic fashion. The win was a feather in the cap for one of the better teams in college football this season, as the Midshipmen close the year with 11 wins and (likely) another ranking in the final polls. (recap by Against All Enemies’ Rocky Dobson)


NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl: Wyoming 38, Georgia State 17

NCAA Football: Arizona Bowl-Wyoming vs Georgia State Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Levi Williams and Xazavian Valladay combined for six touchdowns on the day as the Cowboys overwhelmed the Panthers early and often. It was a bang-up debut for Williams, who made his first start at QB after spending the entire regular season on the scout team. His 234 yards and four total touchdowns (three passing, one rushing) helped pace the offense, while Valladay added on 234 rushign yards (63 receiving) and two TDs as well. (recap by Arizona Daily Star reporter Michael Kev)


Looking Ahead

With no guest commentators this week, we’ll look ahead to the last games of the season instead, giving you a schedule of the games to come, as well as linking to any previews from our partner blogs, if available. All times are Eastern.