C-USA Football: Games for Week of 10-31-15
The two teams that met on the final day of the regular season to determine the West Division title last season meet again on Friday when Louisiana Tech visits Rice. The Bulldogs offense exploded to win last year’s contest, but Rice used a strong running game to take the 2013 matchup at Rice Stadium. That running game is still going strong for the Owls, as they lead Conference USA by averaging 195.0 yards per game and have had four different players reach the century mark in a game this season. Louisiana Tech comes in to the game with the league’s stingiest run defense, allowing just 98.0 yards per game, a figure that ranks 11th in the FBS.
WKU will make its first visit to Old Dominion. Last year, both teams topped 600 total yards in a 66-51 Hilltoppers win, with Brandon Doughty throwing five TD passes for WKU and Ray Lawry rushing for four scores for ODU. Both players both put up good numbers last Saturday, but their teams both fell on the road. Doughty leads the league in passing at 379.4 yards per outing with a league-best 27 touchdown passes, while Lawry has taken over as the conference’s leading rusher at 118.6 yards per contest and has run for eight scores.
The Halloween spirit will be in full force when UTEP, dressed in their all orange uniforms, travels to Southern Miss to face the Golden Eagles, donning their usual all-black home unis. Senior WR Mike Thomas has become of the top playmaking targets in C-USA, posting five consecutive 100-yard games, scoring touchdowns in four straight and totaling six receiving scores so far in the month of October. UTEP is hoping they have found a playmaking receiver of its own in sophomore WR Tyler Batson, who had a career-best 143 yards and his first two career touchdown grabs in last week’s win over Florida Atlantic.
Marshall will be traveling to sold-out Jerry Richardson Stadium in Charlotte. The Thundering Herd are hot, having won six straight games this year and 21-of-23, dating back to their 2013 Military Bowl victory. These teams are tied for second in the league in rushing offense at 179.0 yards per game. Marshall has received strong production from three different backs throughout the year, including sophomore RB Hyleck Foster who has topped the century mark in each of his first two starts, including 105 and a TD last week. The 49ers rely mostly on junior RB Kalif Phillips to lead the ground game and he is second in C-USA at 110.6 per game.
The Shula Bowl will be renewed in Boca Raton when FIU makes the 45-mile trek north to face Florida Atlantic. The Owls have taken 9-of-12 all-time meetings between the south Florida rivals and FIU’s next win will allow them to surpass their 2014 win total. Junior TE Jonnu Smith is coming off the best day by a C-USA tight end this year, having caught 10 passes for an FIU TE record 183 yards and two touchdowns. Owls freshman RB Trey Rodriguez flashed signs of his tremendous promise last week at UTEP, gaining 114 yards on only seven carries, along with a touchdown.
West Division rivals UTSA and North Texas meet Saturday night in Denton. The Roadrunners, coming off a bye, have won the first two meetings in the series. Each team has a talented sophomore running back that can deliver big production to their offenses. UTSA’s Jarveon Williams has already set the school’s single-season rushing record at 618 yards with five games remaining on the regular season schedule. Mean Green RB Jeffrey Wilson ran for 138 at Marshall last week and is the team’s leading rusher despite missing two games earlier in the season.
Marshall (7-1) and WKU (6-2) are the first two Conference USA teams to reach bowl-eligibility, while West Division members Louisiana Tech (5-3) and Southern Miss (5-3) can each become bowl-eligible with wins this weekend. C-USA has seven guaranteed bowl spots for the 2015 season.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 30
Louisiana Tech at Rice (FS1) 7:00p
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 31
WKU at Old Dominion (FSN) 12:00p
UTEP at Southern Miss (FCS) 2:30p
FIU at Florida Atlantic (ASN) 3:30p
Marshall at Charlotte (FSN) 3:30p
UTSA at North Texas (ASN) 7:00p
FIU (sorry guys, I lost all hope with our team. FIU actually is looking good with 4 wins and I really don't think we can win another football game this year. I would love to be wrong with this pick). 35-13
Florida International National Intercontinental ITT Tech School of Design Miami Dade College University 38-20
FLORIDA ATLANTIC!!!!!!!!!!! 34-17
Good Guys 31-27
UNT (cause I'll be there!)
UNT (because Ralph will be there!)