Conference play got started with a bang last week as we were rewarded with two games that featured comebacks. Not only that but both games were decided on the final play.
In C-USA West North Texas came back from being down 17 in the first half to defeat Rice on the road in double overtime for Seth Littrell’s first road win as head coach. In C-USA East Middle Tennessee was down 27-7 but won 38-34 as the defense made a goal line stand to win the game.
This week we could be in store for some duds as we have three teams who are double-digit favorites in their conference matchups.
Choosing C-USA Record: 37-9
Game of the Week
UTEP at Louisiana Tech (La Tech -19.5)
I was tempted to go with Marshall and Pittsburgh but I opted for the conference game instead as both are 1-3 and are coming off of a loss in the conference opener and are in need of a win. There should be major desperation on both sides as a loss here would be tough to overcome in order to reach a bowl game.
Louisiana Tech is 1-3 but their three losses have come against Texas Tech, Arkansas, and Middle Tennessee. All three were on the road and competitive. Whereas UTEP has lost to Army, Texas, and Southern Miss in non-competitive games.
On paper the Bulldogs should win this easily as UTEP is still a one-dimensional offense and even though that dimension is a handoff to the best running back in the conference in Aaron Jones, it’s not a winning formula. The Miners have the most explosive rushing attack in FBS as they are ranked number one in Rushing IsoPP but their passing offense is horrible, as they come in at 116th in Passing Success Rate and 111th in Passing IsoPP.
Whether it’s been Zack Greenlee or Ryan Metz, neither have been good enough to keep defenses from putting eight in the box to slow down Jones. Tech’s defense has struggled, but they’ve done so against elite offenses. UTEP isn’t that.
La Tech boasts a great offense coming in at 17th S&P+ overall and should have their way against the 115th ranked defense according to S&P+. Bulldogs win big.
Louisiana Tech 34 UTEP 13
The Rest of C-USA
Old Dominion at Charlotte
Charlotte played ODU really close last year and they are trying to use that as confidence this week but I think Bob Wilder will have the Monarchs focused and ready to start conference play 2-0 with a huge home game against Western Kentucky up next.
Old Dominion 38 Charlotte 10
Middle Tennessee at North Texas
MTSU just came off of a huge home win against Louisiana Tech and needs to be careful as North Texas will be playing with confidence after a road win over Rice. MTSU lets them hang in there for a quarter but then puts the burners on.
Middle Tennessee 45 North Texas 20
FAU at FIU
I expect FIU to come out with a ton of energy now that Ron Turner has been fired. I’m just not sure what to expect from FAU. I have a feeling the Owls put a ton into last week’s game against Ball State and since they lost we could see a deflated FAU team. The Owls are the more superior team but FIU keeps this close.
FAU 28 FIU 21
Rice at Southern Miss
Southern Miss wins easily as Nick Mullens throws over 400 yards for multiple touchdowns in the first half.
Southern Miss 48 Rice 17
Houston Baptist at Western Kentucky
WKU gets back on track and wins easily.
WKU 48 Houston Baptist 17
Marshall at Pittsburgh
I think Marshall will get it turned around but not this week against the Panthers. Marshall’s defense will still have trouble and allow over 450 yards.
Pittsburgh 41 Marshall 23