The Group of Five (G5) bowl season kicks off on Friday December 17 at noon in the Bahamas Bowl and continues until the Cotton Bowl on December 31 at 7:30pm. In total, there are 23 bowl games with G5 teams.
Fifteen of the bowls will be G5 vs G5. Eights bowls will G5 vs. P5. The table below provides the matchups by G5 conference.
|Conference||AAC||ACC (P5)||CUSA||G5IND||MAC||MWC||PAC12 (P5)||SBC||SEC (P5)||TOTALS|
|American Athletic (AAC)||2||1||2||3||8|
|Conference USA (CUSA)||1||1||2||2||2||8|
|G5 Independent (G5IND)||1||1||1||3|
|Mountain West (MWC)||2||2||3||1||8|
|Power 5 (ACC, PAC12, SEC)||5||1||1||7|
There are a host of compelling games on tap this bowl season. The G5 Gurus will provide a full preview of all the games as part of our predictions, including our picks against the spread. Look for this in the Prediction Menu this weekend. Until then, here are a few of the games that have our immediate attention.
Ten-win Coastal Carolina taking on the MAC Champion Northern Illinois in the Cure Bowl. This game features two offenses that average a combined 73 points a game. The Chanticleers were the darling of the 2020 FBS season. The Huskies remarkable turnaround from zero wins in 2020 to conference champions in 2021 is equally compelling stuff.
The Boca Raton bowl brings us a matchup of conference championship runner-ups when App State takes on high-scoring Western Kentucky. Speaking of scoring, these two offenses average a combined 77 points a game. Bailey Zappe is chasing the single season record for passing touchdowns and averages 443 yards passing a game. He will face a Mountaineer defense that has yielded only 240 yards a game passing and no more than 347 in any single game this season.
In the inaugural Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl, the surprising Utah State Aggies face Oregon State from the PAC-12. The Beavers finished 7-5 and had an impressive win over PAC-12 Champ Utah. The Beavers average 33 points a game and allow 26. The Aggies average 33 a game and allow 25. The Beavers possess a balanced and efficient offensive attack. The Aggies counter with a pass-oriented attack led by Logan Bonner.
In the New Orleans Bowl, Louisiana will try to cap an outstanding with a record 13th straight win. To do so they will have to get by a tough Marshall team, looking for a win to build on for next season. Marshall has a potent, but somewhat turnover prone offense and a stingy defense. The Cajuns are one of the best in the country at protecting the ball and feature a superbly balanced attack led by QB Levi Lewis.
In one of the marquee matchups of the G5 bowl season, 11-2 MWC runner-up San Diego State clashes with 12-1 CUSA champion UT San Antonio. This game will feature a strong Aztec defense looking to control Frank Harris, Sincere McCormick and the high-powered Roadrunner attack. The Aztecs will be looking to rebound from a miserable MWC Championship game, while the Roadrunners come in on a high note after capturing their first CUSA championship.
In their first meeting in over 15 years, Florida and Central Florida will battle in the Gasparilla Bowl. Florida had a rollercoaster season and will be playing with an interim coach as Louisiana coach Bill Napier will take the helm of the Gator program in 2022. UCF had a difficult transition after losing QB Dillon Gabriel, but were buoyed by a surprisingly strong season by their defense. These two teams will meet again as part of a three game series beginning in 2024. This game may provide some early glimpses of players that will play a big role in the future matchup.
In what we hope to be a matchup of two sterling quarterbacks, Nevada and Carson Strong battle Western Michigan and Kaleb Eleby in the Quick Lane bowl. Strong’s participation is uncertain as of this writing. Strong has passed for 4186 yards, 36 touchdowns against 8 interceptions. Eleby, the Bronco’s sophomore QB, has passed for 3155 yards with 21 touchdowns against only 5 interceptions. The game also features two game-breaking receivers in Nevada’s Romeo Doubs (1109 yards, 11 TDs) and Western Michigan’s Skyy Moore (1247 yards and 10 TDs).
In the Birmingham bowl, Houston looks to rebound from their loss to Cincinnati against an unpredictable Auburn team. Auburn lost their last game of the season in 4 overtimes to Alabama, who has staked their annual claim to the top slot in the College Football Playoff. Houston played Cincinnati on even terms until the third quarter when the Bearcats pulled away for a 15 point win. Might this give us a glimpse at the later Cotton Bowl matchup?
Speaking of the Cotton Bowl, the entire G5 nation will be watching with interest as the Cincinnati Bearcats battle the Alabama Crimson Tide. The Bearcats have put together a special season and we hope they can continue their winning ways against the CFP juggernaut in Alabama. Since the announcement of the pairings the airwaves have been awash pundits stating how vastly superior Alabama’s talent is to the Bearcats. We don’t think Cincy will be intimidated. What the pundits still haven’t realized, it is a team sport. Individual talent is important, but a team that plays together can overcome a group of individuals. Let’s hope Cincinnati shows that on December 31.
The full list of the G5 Bowl games is provided in the table below. For a full preview of every game and predictions go to https://www.g5gurus.com/2021-g5-bowl-predictions/.