4. The Really Big Thing Was …
Can the Group of Five really play with the Power Five?
Short answer, not really. However, the big wins by the best Group of Five programs made a whole lot of noise.
Maryland bombed Syracuse two weeks ago with a breathtaking offensive display. One week later, Temple pulled off an upset win over the Terps with a terrific defensive performance, highlighted by two phenomenal goal line stands.
Eastern Michigan beating Illinois wasn’t a total stunner, but Air Force going to Colorado and coming away with a win over the team that beat Nebraska the week before was great. Maybe BYU isn’t technically a Group of Five program, but it’s not in the Power Five, and it beat USC.
And then there was the one that really mattered. UCF didn’t just beat Stanford, it totally dominated in a game much more lopsided than the 45-27 final score.
The Knights were up 28-7 after the first quarter and 38-10 at halftime – mission accomplished. They got a big, giant win over a brand-name Power Five team, and they get a chance to show off again next week at Pitt.
However, the same talking points are still valid. It’s one thing to get jacked up for one big game that you think will make your program a bigger deal, and it’s another to win that game, and then win another game over a team with Power Five talent, and then win another, and so on.
But UCF is the outlier.
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The Group of Five has had its moments. The Georgia State shocker over Tennessee, the Wyoming victory over Missouri, the Boise State win over Florida State, Hawaii’s wins over Arizona and Oregon State, Nevada’s upset over Purdue, and UCLA’s losses to Cincinnati and San Diego State were all interesting, but …
4-11. That’s what the Group of Five did – not counting BYU in that – against the Power Five this weekend.
Again, taking out BYU for now, but also not including anything with Notre Dame, and so far the Group of Five conferences – the American Athletic, Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West and Sun Belt – are a combined 14-51 against the Power Five programs. That’s around a 21% clip.
And that’s the giant hill of perception UCF has to still climb when it comes to respectability.