C-USA Football: Games for Week of 11-07-15
The Friday night lights will be shining in west Texas when Rice plays its second-straight Friday night contest, visiting UTEP. The Owls have won four-straight games in the series, including a 31-13 decision last year in Houston. Rice senior QB Driphus Jackson continues to rise up the school’s all-time charts, now tied for second in TD passes (43), fourth in total offense (5,911) and fifth in passing yards (5,880). Sophomore LB Alvin Jones has been a dynamic playmaker on the Miners defense. He ranks fourth in Conference USA with 5.5 sacks and third with 11.0 tackles for loss.
FIU hosts Charlotte on Saturday looking to bounce back from a tough loss to Florida Atlantic in the Shula Bowl and keep its bowl hopes alive with a victory. In their third year under head coach Ron Turner, a long-respected offensive mind, the Panthers continue to show offensive improvement. FIU has increased its total offense average per game from 293.2 yards last season to 373.0 (+75.8) in 2015, while raising its scoring average from 23.0 ppg to 27.9 (+4.9). Charlotte’s defense has allowed the fewest first downs in Conference USA and ranks second in red zone defense.
Florida Atlantic has won five of the six all-time meetings with WKU, including a 45-38 decision last year in Boca Raton, as the teams meet again in Bowling Green Saturday. A victory will allow the Hilltoppers to match last season’s victory total of eight and would improve them to 6-0 in league play for the first time since the 2000 season (as members of the Ohio Valley Conference). WKU junior RB Anthony Wales ran for 185 yards with a career-high four rushing touchdowns in last week’s win at Old Dominion, becoming the third running back in C-USA to run for four TDs in a game this season. In the last three C-USA games, Wales has combined for 489 yards and six rushing touchdowns, topping the 100-yard mark in all three games. Owls junior DE Trey Hendrickson had 2.5 sacks in the Shula Bowl win over FIU last week and has tied the FAU single-season record with 7.5 sacks on the year.
Louisiana Tech will play host to North Texas in a series where the visiting team has won the last three meetings. The Bulldogs enter the game on an eight-game winning streak at home, scoring 43 points or more in six of those victories. LA Tech’s average margin of victory is 33.5 during the streak, with six of the eight victories by at least 29 points. The Bulldogs offense comes in to the game generating yards like it never has before, topping the 400-yard mark of total offense in nine straight outings, a first in school history. North Texas had two players rush for more than 100 yards in a game for the first time since 2012 in last week’s win over UTSA, as junior QB DaMarcus Smith rushed for a career-high 137 yards and sophomore RB Jeffrey Wilson added 127 yards. The 137 rushing yards by Smith were the most by a Conference USA quarterback this season and they were the first QB-RB duo in school history to both top 100 yards in a game.
Middle Tennessee returns from its bye week to host Marshall, a team that has won seven straight games. The last meeting in Murfreesboro (2013) was a classic, as Logan Kilgore’s TD pass on the final play of the game gave the Blue Raiders a wild 51-49 win over the Thundering Herd. Both teams utilize freshmen quarterbacks to lead their offenses. MT redshirt freshman Brent Stockstill has started all season and been very effective, averaging 305.6 yards per game with 18 touchdowns and just six interceptions on 317 pass attempts. The Thundering Herd’s defense leads C-USA and ranks No. 10 nationally by allowing only 16.1 points per game. Marshall leads the nation in pass defense efficiency, yards per pass attempt allowed (4.8) and passes defended (71). The Herd’s pass defense is allowing only 46.1% completions, which is No. 3 in the nation behind only Clemson and Ohio State.
Two of Conference USA’s newest football teams meet for the first time when Old Dominion, in its sixth season, travels to fifth-year program UTSA. Monarchs junior LB TJ Ricks has developed into a ball-stopping defender, ranking second in Conference USA and 13th in the FBS with 84 tackles on the season. Roadrunners QB Dalton Sturm is coming off a career-best showing at North Texas where he completed 27-of-41 passes for 245 yards and added a team-high 73 yards on the ground on 21 carries.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 6
Rice at UTEP (CBSSN) 8:00p
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 7
Charlotte at FIU (ASN) 12:00p
Florida Atlantic at WKU (FSN) 12:00p
North Texas at Louisiana Tech (FCS) 3:30p
Marshall at Middle Tennessee (FSN) 3:30p
Old Dominion at UTSA (ASN) 7:00p
Marshall 38 Middle 17
FAU (That's right we're finishing strong! 37-35)
Middle Tennessee 28-24
Marshall 34 Middle 17