One of the most underrated storylines early in the college football season is the Group of Five race for a spot in a “New Year’s Six” bowl game. It’s a wide-open battle through a few weeks of the season, and this week’s G5 viewing guide features a few teams who figure to contend for the coveted New Year’s Six spot.
SMU may have the inside track to earn the spot, while Appalachian State is a legitimate threat from the Sun Belt. Each of those programs check in at the top of this week’s viewing guide. As a reminder, I use college football betting odds to help me select five G5 games to watch each week. Other factors, such as home atmosphere, conference races, and game times are also considered.
5. Coastal Carolina at Georgia State, Thursday, 7:30 p.m. ET
Coastal Carolina is a perfect 3-0 on the season, but the Chanticleers (-2.5) failed to cover the spread in consecutive games, and they’ve shown vulnerability against inferior foes. Georgia State followed up Power Five losses with a demoralizing loss to a bad Charlotte team, but there’s still talent on the roster. A desperate 0-3 team hosting a 3-0 team struggling to meet preseason hype? There’s upset potential, which makes this game a fun Thursday watch.
4. Southern Miss at Tulane, Saturday, 7 p.m. ET
I’m high on Southern Miss despite the team’s 1-2 record – that overtime loss to Liberty doesn’t look so bad after the Flames beat UAB and nearly defeated Wake Forest – and the Golden Eagles catch Tulane (-12.5) after its massive win over Kansas State. Tulane just battled what I think is a good Kansas State team, winning 17-10 and improving to a perfect 3-0. Could this game be a letdown spot for the Green Wave? If so, it could be more exciting than the experts think.
3. Toledo at SDSU, Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET
Few things can feel sweeter than going from facing Ohio State’s offense to facing San Diego State’s. OK, that’s a little harsh, but the Rockets (-1.5) have a tremendous opportunity to take down the Mountain West squad this weekend after giving up 77 to the Buckeyes. San Diego State is also coming off a blowout Power Five loss, falling to Utah 35-7. While the teams are coming off tough losses, this should be a competitive showdown between a pair of respectable Group of Five teams.
2. JMU at App State, Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET
Three games, three memorable outcomes for Appalachian State. The Mountaineers (-7.5) opened with a 63-61 loss to North Carolina, followed that up with a 17-14 win over Texas A&M, and beat Troy 32-28 last Saturday thanks to a Hail Mary. What a start to the season! JMU started its FBS tenure with two strong wins, albeit with one coming against a subpar FCS team. The Dukes look FBS ready, but Saturday’s tilt is by far their biggest test of the season.
1. TCU at SMU, Saturday, noon ET
SMU-Maryland delivered an entertaining game last week, and I’m bringing SMU back to the top of this weekly list. This game is basically a pick ‘em with TCU favored by a point. A total of 69.5 means we should expect plenty of scoring in this contest. SMU relinquished a fourth-quarter lead against Maryland last week. Can the Mustangs redeem themselves and defeat a Power Five team this week?
Wyoming-BYU, South Florida-Louisville, Indiana-Cincinnati, Marshall-Troy
Betting odds suggest Marshall at Troy could be the most competitive game of the list, but South Florida-Louisville has a chance to be a sneaky good game. South Florida nearly upset Florida last week, and Louisville hasn’t impressed through three games.