C-USA Football: Games for Week of 11-28-15
The final week of the regular season is upon us and it has turned into semifinal weekend in Conference USA. The winner of the East Division will be decided when Marshall plays at WKU Friday, while the West Division champion will be crowned when Southern Miss visits Louisiana Tech Saturday. The winners of the two divisions will square off Saturday, December 5 at the school with the highest winning percentage in conference play.
WKU and Marshall met on the Friday after Thanksgiving last season and delivered the highest scoring game in Conference USA history, won by the Hilltoppers in overtime, 67-66. It was the Thundering Herd’s only loss during a 13-1 season. WKU enters this week’s game unbeaten in league play and carrying a 10-game winning streak against conference opponents. Marshall has won 13 of its last 15 contests vs. C-USA foes. The Hilltoppers own the league‘s top scoring offense at 43.7 points per game (fifth in the FBS), while the Herd possess the conference’s number one-ranked scoring defense at 15.6 points a contest (eighth in the FBS). WKU has the veteran record-setting quarterback in senior Brandon Doughty, who leads the FBS in completion percentage (72.7), is third in touchdown passes (37), while ranking fourth in passing yards (3,814). Marshall freshman signal-caller Chase Litton is 8-1 since taking over as the Herd’s starting quarterback and is averaging 239.5 yards per game through the air with 20 touchdown passes and only four interceptions.
Louisiana Tech is looking to become the fourth Conference USA school to repeat as a division champion, one of which was a Skip Holtz-coached East Carolina squad in 2008-09. Southern Miss is tied with Washington State as the most-improved program in the FBS, increasing its win total by five games from last year. The Bulldogs rank third in the conference in both total offense and total defense, but are even stingier against the run, allowing a league-low 109.5 yards on the ground. The Southern Miss offense has gone from scoring 19 points per game in 2014, to 40.2 points per game this season. That’s an increase of more than 21 points. The Golden Eagle defense is allowing nearly 14 fewer points per game on average this season than it did a year ago at 22.3 per game. Senior QB Jeff Driskel has been a productive leader of the LA Tech offense all season, throwing for 3,220 yards and 21 touchdowns with just five interceptions. Junior QB Nick Mullens has performed at an even higher level in his third season as the starter, setting school single season records for touchdown passes (32) and passing yards for a season (3,578).
Old Dominion hosts Florida Atlantic needing a victory to become bowl-eligible in the first season that the former FCS power is able to play in the FBS postseason. The Monarchs will go back to freshman Shuler Bentley at quarterback after David Washington suffered a season-ending knee injury last week. Junior Zach Pascal (61 catches for 812 yards) and sophomore Jonathan Duhart (577 yards and eight TDs) provide solid targets for Bentley. ODU will need to find a way to move the ball against Trey Hendrickson (tied as FAU’s all-time sack leader) and an Owls defense that shut out Florida into the third quarter in Gainesville last Saturday.
Middle Tennessee reached bowl-eligibility last week with its third straight win and the Blue Raiders will look to remain hot when they travel to San Antonio to play UTSA, which is seeking to end the season on a three-game winning streak. Middle Tennessee has the most productive rookie pitch and catch duo in conference history in QB Brent Stockstill and WR Richie James. With 3,421 passing yards, Stockstill has broken the freshman record of 3,128, set by former Southern Miss and current Cleveland Browns QB Austin Davis in 2008. Stockstill leads the nation’s freshmen in yards and touchdown passes (26), ranking 13th in yards and 11th in TD tosses among all FBS players. James leads all of the nation’s freshmen in receptions (93) and receiving yards (1,135), ranking third among all players in catches and 10th among all players in yards. His receptions and receiving total are each the most by any freshman in Conference USA history. UTSA junior RB Jarveon Williams is the school’s first 1,000-yard rusher (344 in the last two weeks), along with a school-best eight rushing touchdowns.
Rounding out the schedule on the final day of the season is Charlotte’s first meeting with Rice in Houston and in-state rivals UTEP and North Texas squaring off in Denton.
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 27
Marshall at WKU (FS1) 12:00p
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 28
Florida Atlantic at Old Dominion (ASN) 12:00p
Southern Miss at LA Tech (FSN) 12:00p
Middle Tennessee at UTSA (FCS) 2:30p
Charlotte at Rice (ASN) 3:30p
UTEP at North Texas (FSN) 3:30p
WKU 56 - 24
FAU 34 - 14
LA Tech 37 -17
Middle 28 - 7
Rice 34 - 3
UTEP 17 - 6
Side note: I think it's funny we complain about noon games. Don't get me wrong, they are horrible. But if a game like Michigan Ohio state is a noon eastern start tomorrow (so 11am their time), then we are never getting rid of noon games. Just be greatful we are getting dollars and playing on tv.
Marshall 28 WKU 49
WKU’s 49-28 win over Marshall means that it is the East Division champion and that it will host the 2015 Conference USA Football Championship Game on Saturday, December 5. The Hilltoppers (8-0 in C-USA play, 10-2 overall) are in the game in just their second year in the league after becoming the first C-USA team to finish undefeated in league play since Houston in 2011. WKU is the seventh team to go unbeaten in league play in C-USA’s 20 football seasons.
The Hilltoppers will face the winner of Saturday’s Southern Miss at Louisiana Tech game. WKU defeated Louisiana Tech, 41-38, on Sept. 11, while the Hilltoppers and Southern Miss did not play each other this season.
The 2015 C-USA Championship Game will be televised live on ESPN 2.