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Group of Five Rundown: BYU Looks to Feast on Notre Dame

The schedule of the teams outside the Power-5 conference got an added bonus when the key American Athletic Conference matchup between Southern Methodist and Central Florida was moved from Week 5 to Week 6 due to the weather issues created by Hurricane Ian in Florida.

The most compelling matchup of the week figures to be a showdown between Brigham Young and Notre Dame. There will be multiple players in the game who are being touted as potential first-round picks in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Quarterback Jaren Hall #3 of the Brigham Young Cougars walks out of the tunnel before their game against the Oregon Ducks
Tom Hauck - Getty Images - AFP

According to the college football odds, both BYU and Notre Dame are priced at +50000 in the odds to win the national title.

BYU has moved up four spots in the American Football Coaches Association poll and three positions in the Associated Press poll. The Cougars are now 16th in both rankings and the only team outside of the Power-5 conferences to be ranked in the top 25 in both polls.

James Madison will look to keep on rolling after going from FCS title contender to the best defensive team at the FBS level.

Here is a look at some of the top games to watch. The Army-Wake Forest matchup did not make the cut. However, those who bet online should be a little curious on what transpires in that one after last season’s 70-56 offensive showcase won by the Demon Deacons.

Game of the Week

BYU Cougars vs Notre Dame Fighting Irish

  • Date, time, TV: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET (NBC)
  • Line: Notre Dame -3½

This has the makings of a defensive showcase with a 4-1 BYU team allowing just 335 yards per game and 2-2 Notre Dame allowing 355.5.

Ben Bywater leads BYU with 37 tackles and two interceptions while Isaiah Foskey tops Notre Dame with three sacks.

There should be plenty of NFL scouts checking out this game, with BYU quarterback Jaren Hall joining Foskey and Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer are potential first-round picks. Hall is priced at +3300 to be the No. 1 overall selection in the 2023 NFL Draft.

— BYU FOOTBALL (@BYUfootball) October 3, 2022

The defenses will have something to say about this, but based on how things have gone so far this season, don’t expect to see too many passes hitting the ground. Hall is completing 70.2% of his passes while Notre Dame’s Drew Pyne has completed 69.8% of his attempts.

This is the first meeting between the teams since 2013 when Notre Dame won 23-13 as a one-point underdog according to the sportsbook.

Other Games to Watch

SMU Mustangs vs UCF Knights

  • Date, Time (TV): Wednesday, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
  • Line: UCF -3

This key American Athletic Conference was supposed to be played in Week 5, but Hurricane Ian had other ideas so now the AAC title contenders will be meeting in a midweek contest.

SMU’s Tanner Mordecai is the conference leader with an average of 346.3 passing yards per game. UCF quarterback John Rhys Plumlee is the only player in the conference averaging more than 100 rushing yards per game.

The teams have combined for eight offensive plays of at least 50 yards, so perhaps there will be some offensive fireworks on Wednesday night.

UCF (3-1) has won four of the last five meetings with Southern Methodist (2-2). SMU can put up some points, but four of the last five road games for the Mustangs have finished under the college football betting lines total. It will be the conference opener for both teams.

Houston Cougars vs Memphis Tigers

  • Date, Time (TV): Friday, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
  • Line: Memphis -3

Memphis and Houston are still working through some defensive issues as the Tigers are ninth and the Cougars 10th in the AAC in total defense. They have combined to allow 24 plays of at least 30 yards.

Memphis (4-1, 2-0 American Athletic Conference) leads the AAC with 14 plays of 30 yards or longer, while big plays have been harder to come by for the Cougars (2-3, 0-1).

Quarterbacks Seth Henigan of Memphis and Clayton Tune of Houston struggled in the 2021 matchup between the teams with four interceptions and two touchdown passes.

Houston has lost five of its last six games against Memphis and failed to cover against the college football picks in four of the last five. The total has gone over in four of the last six meetings between the Cougars and Tigers.

East Carolina Pirates vs Tulane Green Wave

  • Date, Time (TV): Saturday, 3:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
  • Line: Tulane -3

Another interesting matchup in the AAC.

East Carolina (3-2, 1-1) leads the conference with 97 plays from scrimmage of at least 10 yards and 33 plays of at least 20 yards. Tulane’s defense leads the way with just 35 double-digit yardage plays allowed. Tulane (4-1, 2-1) has given up only six plays of 20 yards or more and the next closest mark in the American is Temple’s 13.

East Carolina sophomore Keaton Mitchell is third in the American Athletic Conference with 386 rushing yards while Tulane’s Tyjae Spears is fifth with 259 yards to go with six rushing TDs.

The Pirates have covered in five of their last six road games while Tulane is 6-1 against the spread over its last seven contests.

Keaton Mitchell #25 of the East Carolina Pirates celebrates his touchdown against the Navy Midshipmen
Patrick Smith – Getty Images – AFP

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers vs UTSA Roadrunners

  • Date, Time (TV): Saturday, 6 p.m. ET (ESPN+)
  • Line: UTSA -7

Passes should be flying through the air when two of the Conference USA teams averaging more than 40 passing attempts per game square off.

UTSA’s Frank Harris is completing 69% of his passes for 1,724 yards with 12 touchdowns and five interceptions while Western Kentucky’s Austin Reed has 1,663 yards with a 72.2 completion percentage to go with 17 touchdowns and four interceptions.

Four of the Conference USA players with more than 450 receiving yards are set to play in this contest. The UTSA trio of De’Corian Clark, Joshua Cephus and Zahkari Franklin have combined for 108 catches for 1,550 yards and 14 touchdowns while Western Kentucky’s Daewood Davis has 476 yards on 34 catches.

Buckle up for this one considering that Texas-San Antonio’s last six games have finished over the total and eight of Western Kentucky’s last 11 games also went over the total. The number is currently at 72½ and that is the highest of the Week 6 games. Both teams are 3-2 and 1-0 in Conference USA.

James Madison Dukes vs Arkansas State Red Wolves

  • Date, Time (TV): Saturday, 7 p.m. ET (NFL Network)
  • Line: James Madison -11½

James Madison (4-0, 2-0 in the Sun Belt) has made quite the transition from the Football Championship Subdivision level to playing against Football Bowl Subdivision competition.

The Dukes are allowing the fewest yards (218.8) of any FBS team and only Alabama is surrendering fewer yards per play than the 3.79 being given up by James Madison.

Arkansas State (2-3, 1-1) will counter with an offense led by former Florida State quarterback James Blackman, who has thrown for 1,212 yards. Freshman Mikail Kamara leads James Madison with three sacks.

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