C-USA Football: Games for Week of 10-24-15
Five league games and a pair of interesting non-conference games make up the week eight schedule in Conference USA, with all games being played on Saturday.
Charlotte and Southern Miss, original members of Conference USA in 1995, meet in the sport of football for the first time. 49ers junior RB Kalif Phillips posted his third-straight 100-yard rushing game with a school-record 204-yard performance at Old Dominion last week. He scored a pair of touchdowns for his first multiple-score game of the year and is now C-USAís leading rusher with 703 yards in six games (117.2 per game). The Golden Eagles are among 15 FBS teams that are averaging more than 500 yards of total offense, ranking second in C-USA at 509.4 yards per outing. Led by junior QB Nick Mullens, the balanced Southern Miss attack is second in passing offense (335.4 ypg) and third in rushing offense (174.0 ypg).
Cross-division action continues when Middle Tennessee plays at Louisiana Tech in the first meeting between the teams since 2000. The Blue Raiders will look to even their overall record after an important win over FIU last Saturday, while the Bulldogs try and bounce back from a tough loss at Mississippi State. Both teams are led by quarterbacks in their first season starting with the program, with Middle Tennessee ranking third in C-USA in passing offense and Louisiana Tech fourth. Individually, Louisiana Tech senior QB Jeff Driskel is ninth in the FBS in passing yards (2,115), while Middle Tennessee freshman QB Brent Stockstill in 11th (2,064).
North Texas and Marshall will be meeting for the first time since the 1988 I-AA Playoffs when the Mean Green head to Huntington to face the Herd. North Texas junior QB DaMarcus Smith made his first career start last week against WKU, throwing for 228 yards and four touchdowns, while rushing 16 times for 122 yards, the most by a Mean Green quarterback since Scott Davis rushed for 203 yards in 1990 against SMU. Smith is the first NT QB to throw for four touchdowns in a game since Riley Dodge in 2009. Marshall comes in to the matchup with three different players that have rushed for 100 yards in a game this season as it faces the leagueís last-ranked rushing defense. Sophomore RB Hyleck Foster, a converted wide receiver, ran for 122 yards and a touchdown in Marshallís 33-17 win at Florida Atlantic last Saturday in his first action running the ball. He joined senior Devon Johnson and sophomore Tony Pittman, who each have a pair of 100-yard outings in 2015.
Florida Atlantic and UTEP will meet for the first time in El Paso Saturday night, where the Miners have won seven of their last nine outings. The Owls defense enters this week second in Conference USA in sacks with 15. Junior Trey Hendrickson is tied for second in the league with 5.0 sacks, while senior Trevon Coley is fifth with 4.5. An unfortunate storyline to the Miners season has been injuries. A total of 10 players are done for 2015 due to season-ending injuries, while nine other players have missed contests due to being hurt. With all of the injuries plaguing UTEP, 27 players have seen action for the first time as Miners.
Old Dominion and FIU will face off in Miami. Monarchs senior WR Zach Pascal is coming off the most productive day by a C-USA receiver this season, as he registered career-highs with 11 receptions for 231 yards and three touchdowns in Old Dominionís come-from-behind 37-34 victory over Charlotte. All 11 of his catches went for first downs. The Panthers will try to keep their perfect home record intact, led by versatile sophomore RB Alex Gardner. He leads the team in rushing (454 yards) and has 37 receptions for 33 yards, with six total touchdowns after scoring twice last week.
WKU is off to its best start since moving to the FBS level in 2009 and the Hilltoppers will face their toughest test of the season when they face No. 5 LSU in Baton Rouge. WKU has an FBS-best 10 plays from scrimmage of 50 yards or longer (all through the air), with five of better than 60 yards. Hilltoppers junior WR Taywan Taylor currently ranks fourth in the FBS in receiving yards (825) and third in receiving touchdowns (10). He has scored a touchdown in each game except for the season opener at Vanderbilt, notching five scores in the past two weeks. Taylor has posted 120 yards or more in four of his last five outings. WKUís defense will have to face Leonard Fournette, the nationís leading rusher who is averaging 200.3 yards per game.
Rice will look for its fourth consecutive victory over Army when the Black Knights come to Houston. The Owls won last yearís meeting in West Point, 41-21. Rice had last week off following a thrilling come-from-behind win at Florida Atlantic. In the victory, senior QB Driphus Jackson turned in his best performance of the season (284 yards, three touchdown passes) and he will look to continue that play down the stretch in order for the Owls to compete for the West Division title and a fourth consecutive bowl appearance..
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 24
Southern Miss at Charlotte (ASN) 12:00p
Army at Rice (FSN) 12:00p
Middle Tennessee at LA Tech (ASN) 3:30p
North Texas at Marshall (FSN) 3:30p
Old Dominion at FIU 6:00p
Florida Atlantic at UTEP (ASN) 7:00p
WKU at LSU (ESPNU) 7:00p
Florida Atlantic (assuming that's the tie breaker, FAU 24-13)
Honestly think we will lose by one with a stupid fumble and of course some kind of hour and a half delay. But hey, it's more fun to have hope.†
Florida Atlantic (PLEASE LET US WIN)