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WHAT TO WATCH FOR THIS WEEK: The Mountain West starts off Week 5 with a nationally-televised non-conference game as the Utah State Aggies host former MW member, BYU. The Aggies are 1-0 at home inside Maverik Stadium this season and 27-6 in their last 33 home games, which includes a 19-6 record under head coach Matt Wells. These in-state rivals spent 37 years as conference foes as members of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference from 1922-37 and the Mountain States/Skyline Conference from 1938-61.
Saturday we see 13 games on tap for the Mountain West and Conference USA members, including four MW league games and three for C-USA. All three C-USA league match-ups kick off at 5 p.m. MT as FIU hosts Charlotte, Florida Atlantic welcomes Middle Tennessee, and North Texas travels to Southern Miss. It’s the first conference game of the season for Charlotte, FAU, Middle Tennessee and Southern Miss while FIU and North Texas are both 1-0, sitting atop their respective divisions. In MW conference play, the night kicks off with two 0-1 teams in the Mountain Division as New Mexico hosts Air Force. San Jose State and Hawai`i are also looking to rebound from 0-1 MW starts, taking on UNLV and Colorado State, respectively. Fresno State and Nevada are also on the grid iron for a league game.
In non-conference play, Rice starts off the day with a game at Heinz Field against the ACC’s Pittsburgh Panthers. The Owls lead the series, 2-0, but haven’t met since the Truman Administration. Marshall heads to Cincinnati’s recently renovated and expanded Nippert Stadium, aiming to improve to 3-0 against teams from Ohio this season. Louisiana Tech and UTEP are also in action as the Bulldogs host South Alabama for the first time while the Miners go for their first win of 2017 at West Point versus Army. In the MW, Wyoming hosts Texas State while No. 19/21 San Diego State hosts Northern Illinois. The Aztecs and Huskies are arguably two of the top teams from Autonomous 5 Conferences and have had success against Power 5 members. As a whole, the Group of 5 owns a 15-71 record against the power leagues this season. However, the Aztecs are 2-0 (wins vs. No. 19/19 Stanford and at Arizona State) this year, while the Huskies are 1-1 (with a win at Nebraska). Please check out the complete schedule with series notes and viewing information on page 1.
COACH TO CURE MD: This Saturday is the annual Coach To Cure MD, when AFCA coaches nationwide agree to promote Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. By wearing armbands, mentioning Coach To Cure MD during on and off-field interviews, and in some instances doing even more extensive media relations around the date, coaches are rolling up their sleeves and proudly getting involved. Coach To Cure MD is a partnership between the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), a professional organization for over 10,000 college football coaches and staff, and Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy (PPMD), the largest national charity devoted exclusively to Duchenne muscular dystrophy. In 2008 the AFCA adopted PPMD’s Coach To Cure MD program as one of their charity efforts. One reason the AFCA was drawn to Coach To Cure MD was because of the unique parallels between Duchenne, a disorder which robs young men of precious muscle strength and college football, a game where young men are at the peak of their muscle strength.
GILDAN NEW MEXICO BOWL CONNECTIONS: As of September 27, there are currently 49 former collegiate athletes who played in at least one of the previous New Mexico Bowls and is listed as active, practice squad or injured reserve among 23 of the 32 NFL teams. The Denver Broncos boast the most alums with five. On the collegiate side, Colorado State has produced the most pros with seven. UTSA’s Jarveon Williams is the lone participant from last year’s game. All-time, the Gildan New Mexico Bowl has had 169 alumni listed on an NFL roster. For a complete list of the active athletes, click on the PDF link above.