Well folks, that was bad and I’m not talking about FAU’s performance against Oklahoma. In Weeks 1 and 0 Conference USA went 7-8 to start the season. Four of those wins came against the FCS.
The average margin of victory over FBS teams (Miami OH, SMU and South Alabama) was 11 points. For added context, Miami was picked to finished third in the MAC East division, SMU was picked to finish fourth in the AAC West and South Alabama was picked to finish third in the Sun Belt West. Not a great opening week for the conference.
This week C-USA could have a much better go of it as five teams will play FCS teams. Out of the five games against FBS opponents, three teams are considered the favorite.
Game of the Week
FIU vs Old Dominion (FIU -1, 7:30 PM ET, beIn Sports)
Due to the influx of FCS games it was tough to pick a contest worthy to be featured. The Panthers and Monarchs get the call because both teams enter conference play up against the wall after losing in Week 1.
Though both teams are coming off a loss, FIU and Old Dominion will enter the game at different spectrums. FIU showed some promise in their 38-28 defeat to Indiana. Their running backs performed really well.
Anthony Jones and Shawndarrius Phillips each scored on the ground, and D’Vonte Price averaged 10.5 yards per carry. The Panthers only rushed for a team total of 170 yards on 39 carries but if the passing offense had been a lot more reliable (James Morgan and Christian Alexander both failed to pass for over 100 yards) the rushing offense could have been a lot more potent.
After seeing what Liberty was able to accomplish the FIU offense must feel confident they can put up similar numbers. ODU’s 52-10 loss to Liberty is a bit misleading though. The Monarchs only trailed 14-10 at the half and if not for two missed field goals by Nick Rice, ODU could have potentially entered the locker room ahead with momentum. The defense kept ODU in the game for three quarters before the dam broke lose and allowed 28 fourth quarter points.
What’s not misleading about the result is ODU’s lack of offense. The offensive line played bad, Steven Williams struggled with accuracy and the receivers couldn’t get open down the field. FIU really struggled to stop the pass against IU, allowing a 75 percent completion percentage and four touchdowns with only one sack.
The biggest matchup of the game is obvious. Can ODU’s passing offense find a rhythm against a young FIU defense who struggles to sack the quarterback.
Expect a contest very similar to FIU’s conference opener against Rice last season in Houston. A low scoring game with offenses trying to stay away from mistakes. While Foreman Field is a lot more intimidating than Rice Stadium, I really liked the way FIU’s offense looked under second year offensive coordinator Rick Skrosky and feel more confident in their ability to sustain drives and finish them with points.
FIU 23 Old Dominion 14
The rest of C-USA…
Southern at Louisiana Tech (6:00 PM ET, ESPN+)
In two weeks the Bulldogs will head to Baton Rouge to take on LSU. Look for Tech to keep things as vanilla as possible.’
Louisiana Tech 38 Southern 14
Appalachian State at Charlotte (Charlotte +14, 6:00 PM ET, ESPN+)
App State nearly pulled off the biggest upset of Week 1 before falling to a Top 10 Penn State team on the road in overtime. Brad Lambert would be in the good graces of a lot of Charlotte fans if he’s able to pull off the upset. App fans have been all over social media bragging about taking over Jerry Richardson Stadium. The game is sold out so it should be a lively environment. A road environment at home is what Charlotte should expect though. Considering how tough App looked last week, I don’t see any way how Charlotte comes out with the win.
App State 35 Charlotte 7
Eastern Kentucky at Marshall (6:30 PM ET, ESPN+)
The defense should look a lot more fierce in this one as the Herd will receive a tune up before taking on No. 24 South Carolina next week.
Marshall 45 Eastern Kentucky 3
UT Martin at Middle Tennessee State (7:00 PM ET, ESPN+)
Leave the game with a win and have Brent Stockstill free from injury is the main goal here.
Middle Tennessee 41 UT Martin 17
Louisiana-Monroe at Southern Miss (Southern Miss -5, 7:00 PM ET, ESPN3)
After scoring all they could against Jackson State, Southern Miss might want to try that again as ULM comes to town with an offense capable of lighting up the scoreboard too. ULM avoided an upset bid against Southeastern Louisiana last week to open the season and enters the game with a few more days to prepare since they played on Thursday. I’m expecting a lot of points and a Southern Miss win, as the Golden Eagles will face one of the worst defenses in the FBS.
Southern Miss 45 ULM 31
UAB at Coastal Carolina (UAB -10, 7:00 PM ET, ESPN+)
Coastal looked scrappy against South Carolina last week but should still be no match against the Blazers. This one will give us a better idea of whether UAB’s passing offense has turned the corner.
UAB 38 Coastal Carolina 21
Baylor at UTSA (UTSA -15.5, 7:00 PM ET, CBSSN)
Last year UTSA pulled off the upset and scored their first ever win over a Power Five school. Due to UTSA’s poor performance last week I can’t really see them pulling off the upset. But the game being at home does make me believe that they could provide a better fight and possibly cover.
Baylor 41 UTSA 20
Maine at WKU (7.30 PM ET, ESPN+)
The Tops should be able to run the ball well against an FCS team like Maine right?
WKU 45 Maine 17
Incarnate Word at North Texas (7:30 PM ET, ESPN+)
The Mean Green have a huge game against Arkansas following their tune up against Incarnate Word.
North Texas 58 Incarnate Word 14
UTEP at UNLV (UTEP +23.5, 9:00 PM ET, Mountain West Network)
Poor Miners. A 23.5 point underdog against a subpar UNLV team.
UNLV 42 UTEP 7
Rice at Hawaii (Rice +17.5, 11:59 PM ET, Stadium)
Hawaii is the G5 darling of the year so far as the Warriors are 2-0 after beating Colorado St. on the road and a blowout win over Navy at home. The Run-and-Shoot offense has been super effective. Considering Rice really struggled in space in the second half against Houston, Hawaii should move the ball pretty effectively.
Hawaii 55 Rice 24