We enter week 12 of the Conference USA football season and while the West division is locked up, the East is still technically up for grabs and a few teams need wins this week if they want to make a bowl game. Let’s see what’s on the table this week.
Game of the Week
Louisiana Tech at Southern Miss (Tech -1.5, 3:30 PM ET on Stadium)
This game is intriguing mainly because in order to go to a bowl game, they need to win their last two games: this one and the next week against UTEP. If not, it’s hard to imagine they won’t finalize something in terms of a twelfth regular season game.
The Golden Eagles’ last three games have been edge of your seat type affairs with each being decided by three points or less. USM only won one of those games though: an upset over Marshall two weeks ago. Freshman quarterback Tate Whatley has filled in admirably for Jack Abraham with five touchdowns in the last three games (four passing, one rushing). The dual-threat has been running for his life though getting sacked nine times this year. It will take another big day from the Lakeland, Florida native to keep USM in it.
For Tech, they’re wrapping up another solid campaign in C-USA west with a 7-3 record so far. Jaylon Ferguson is arguably the frontrunner for league defensive player of the year with 12.5 sacks on the season. He’ll likely keep Whatley running for most of this game. The offense has some big play capability as well and have a knack for capitalizing in big ways on opponent’s defensive mistakes. The possibility is there for them to do so again this week.
J'Mar Smith goes 43 yards untouched! pic.twitter.com/qhTfyWPUfW— Conference USA (@ConferenceUSA) October 20, 2018
Tech 24, Southern Miss 20
The Rest of C-USA...
FAU at North Texas (UNT -4.5, 9:30 PM PT on CBS Sports Network on Thursday)
Lane Kiffin’s Owls can lock up bowl eligibility with an upset win here. Something tells me Mason Fine and the Mean Green will have something of a chip on their shoulder after being upset by ODU last week.
UNT 31, FAU 21
MTSU at #17 Kentucky (UK -16, Noon ET on SEC Network)
The Blue Raiders will need to keep Benny Snell in check if they want any shot at keeping this game close. If they can’t, then at least this will be a nice pay day for them.
Kentucky 31, MTSU 14
FIU at Charlotte (FIU -5.5, 2 PM ET on ESPN3)
FIU can’t afford any mistakes if they want their shot at the league title game. James Morgan has been rising to the occasion lately. There’s some entertainment value here, but the Panthers should hand Charlotte their seventh loss.
FIU 27, Charlotte 21
Virginia Military Institute at Old Dominion (ODU -31, 2 PM ET on ESPN+)
The VMI Keydets have one win this season and that was against a DII team. Monarch fans need not worry here.
ODU 35, VMI 0
UTSA at Marshall (Marshall -26, 2:30 PM ET on Stadium’s Facebook Page)
Marshall have had their issues this season, but it’s nothing compared to UTSA. The runners have scored just 16 touchdowns this season with little to no progression offensively. The Herd have this one.
Marshall 34, UTSA 10
UAB at Texas A&M (TAMU -17, 7 PM ET on ESPN2)
The Blazers have been playing fantastic as of late, but this might be a small stumble for them. If UAB can stop TAMU’s QB-RB duo of Kellen Mond and Trayveon Williams, it will be something the whole country will be talking about...but that’s a long shot.
TAMU 28, UAB 17
Rice at #7 LSU (LSU -42, 7:30 PM ET on ESPNU)
There’s not too much to say about this one. Rice is still trying to find some kind of stride offensively. LSU have played very well on both sides of the ball against teams not named Alabama this season. This has blowout written all over it
LSU 45, Rice 3
UTEP at Western Kentucky (WKU -7, 7:30 PM ET on BeIN Sports)
To round out the night, we’ve got a battle of two 1-9 teams...the stuff primetime match-ups are made of. Regardless, UTEP are running the ball fairly well this year despite their record with 136 yards on the ground per game. WKU is not defending the run well at all giving up the second-most rush yards per game at 196. For that reason, UTEP has a real shot to pick up another upset win.
UTEP 31, WKU 27