I hate to beat a dead horse everyone, but Conference USA could be in store for another rough week. C-USA plays three games against the SEC this week and one other against the Big 12. The only C-USA team who plays a non-conference game against a FBS team that’s listed as a favorite is FIU, as the Panthers host UMass.
Two of the better teams in the conference however, gets a shot at the SEC and I think there would have been a decent shot for both pull to off the upset. North Texas has looked dynamite to start the season and head to Arkansas to play the Razorbacks. The other C-USA team, Marshall, is a bit of an unknown and was supposed to play South Carolina before Hurricane Florence ruined the fun. As a result, all eyes are on North Texas to have a good showing this week.
Game of the Week
North Texas at Arkansas (North Texas +7, 4:00 PM ET, SEC Network)
The Mean Green head to Fayetteville with a lot of firsts on the line: A chance to go 3-0 for the first time since 1989, first win over a Power Five team since 2011 when they beat Indiana 24-21, and Seth Littrell’s first win over Chad Morris, as Morris is undefeated against Littrell dating back to Morris’ time at SMU.
Given Arkansas is coming off of a road loss to Colorado State in which they allowed the Rams to score 25 straight points in the second half and is currently undergoing a rebuild, I’m surprised they’re a favorite here.
According to S&P+, the Razorbacks are projected to go 4-8. Meanwhile North Texas is projected to go 10-2 after putting up prolific numbers against SMU and Incarnate Word. Due to Arkansas allowing 389 passing yards to Colorado State’s K.J. Carta-Samuels, it’s easy to assume Mason Fine and co. will have a field day with this secondary.
Arkansas defensive end Randy Ramsey is expected to make his first appearance of the 2018 season. Ramsey has 4.5 sacks and four forced fumbles in his career. Linebacker Dre Greenlaw is also expected to make his first appearance of the season for the hogs. For a defense that doesn’t have a lot of depth, having these seniors return to the lineup is huge.
Another bonus for Arkansas is the advantage they will have in the trenches as Rakeem Boyd and Devwah Whaley are averaging over five yards per carry this season. If Morris wishes to play keep-away from UNT’s explosive offense, he certainly has the running backs to do so.
Given the familiarity between the two staffs, we may see a trick play or two. While I think Arkansas has the better athletes and could see the Razorbacks pounding UNT on the ground for a 14-point win, I like the continuity on UNT’s staff and feel like its their time to get over the Chad Morris hump.
North Texas 38 Arkansas 35
The rest of C-USA...
UTEP at Tennessee (UTEP +30, 12:00 PM ET, SEC Network)
The Vols play Florida next week so they could come out really vanilla. Unfortunately, their third-team could probably be UTEP by 14 points anyway.
Tennessee 45 UTEP 3
Tulane at UAB (UAB +4, 1:00 PM ET, Stadium)
I really loved UAB in this game two weeks ago but after getting gauged on the ground by Coastal Carolina I just don’t see it. Tulane’s defense has looked pretty good this year too. AJ Erderly must have a better game if the Blazers are to keep it close.
Tulane 38 UAB 24
UTSA at Kansas State (UTSA +21.5, 4:00 PM ET, Fox Sports Net)
Put me in the camp that thinks the spread is a bit high here. K-State hasn’t looked all that impressive this season as they barely beat FCS team South Dakota and got thumped at home by Mississippi State. The Roadrunners have had their troubles with P5 teams this year but made some major strides last week at home against Baylor. Translating that effort on the road might be tough though.
Kansas State 28 UTSA 17
Old Dominion at Charlotte (ODU -1.5, Thursday 4:00 PM ET, ESPN3)
The game has been moved up due to Hurricane Florence. Last year ODU won 6-0. I don’t trust either offense but I think ODU has just enough to get the win.
ODU 17 Charlotte 10
Middle Tennessee at Georgia (MTSU +32.5, 7:15 PM ET, ESPN2)
The Blue Raiders struggled against Vanderbilt. No way they’re in at the half.
Georgia 45 Middle Tennessee 10
WKU at Louisville (WKU +22.5, 7:30 PM ET, ACC Network)
A really rare in-sate matchup that I wish had a little bit more juice. After last week’s debacle I wonder where the leadership is for WKU. Louisville isn’t exactly a world beater, but they have a lot more going for themselves than WKU.
Louisville 45 WKU 17
UMass at FIU (FIU -4, 7:30 PM ET, beIn)
FIU won last year’s game 63-35 and after watching UMass play defense against Boston College and Georgia Southern, FIU could very well score over 50 again. The Minutemen allowed 303 rushing yards on average in their losses to BC and GS. As long as FIU keeps it on the ground they’ll be in good shape.
FIU 48 UMass 30