Week 2 C-USA - Col St at Tulsa & More

Posted Sep 5, 2013

Week 2 Pac-12 Fearless Predictions - Colorado State at Tulsa & More

South Alabama (0-1) at Tulane (1-0) Sept. 7, 3:30

Why You Should Give A Hoot: South Alabama is licking its wounds after losing to an FCS opponent in Southern Utah and most have to think they will be ready for Tulane, especially being on the road. Tulane comes in as slight favorites, but it barely beat up on a putrid Jackson State squad. In case you forgot, these are both FBS squads that are fighting to earn an inch of respect from the national media.

Why South Alabama Might Win: The Jaguars are hungry for a victory in the month of September because there may not be a better opportunity other than this one. Western Kentucky and Tennessee are coming up after this matchup, and those teams are legit squads that can knock off a bunch of teams.

Why Tulane Might Win: Can the Green Wave bring back Matt Forte to help carry it to victory? This team fortunately is coming off a season opening win and starting off 2-0 would be a pleasant surprise. The biggest stunning stat is how Tulane has lost five in a row to non-BCS schools by an average of 37 points per game. Just look at last season for example, where it lost to Louisiana-Monroe by a score of 63-10. The Green Wave is beyond overdue knocking off a team like South Alabama, though it may be a tad more difficult than first envisioned.

Who To Watch Out For: Tulane RB Orleans Darkwa. Only toting the rock 13 times for 50 yards goes to show how they put their first game on cruise control, but the star back will be needed in this one. Darkwa did score twice in the opener and he should have reservations for six on more than one occurrence. If he does, this game should be put out of reach by about the midway point of the fourth quarter.
What Will Happen: The Green Wave will put its atrocious losing streak to non-BCS teams at a halt in this one, and it will be the balance of an offense with QB Nick Montana (son of Joe) showing some growth. Coming off a two-touchdown opening performance against Jackson State, head coach Curtis Johnson may finally begin to take the training wheels off as the offense will have to be more than just vanilla in this one.
Prediction: Tulane 27 … South Alabama 17
Line: Tulane -6 o/u: 57.5
Must See Rating: (5 Olbermann – 1 Total Divas) … 1

Gardner-Webb (1-0) at Marshall (0-1) Sept. 7, 6:30

Why You Should Give A Hoot: The Thundering Herd is an exciting and electric offense to watch thanks to QB Rakeem Cato. He can thread the needle at will and the pieces around him are relentless at getting open. The bevy of options they have is special for a non-BCS team, and do not be shocked to see them potentially run the table and get into the BCS.
Why Gardner-Webb Might Win: The Runnin' Bulldogs need to do just that in order to keep pace with this unstoppable offense. Keeping Cato and the rest of the offense on the bench is indeed mission impossible. However, they did escape Furman in the opener, 28-21, and are capable hanging tough for a few possessions. Even that may sound slim to none because there is no chance that this defense can hang with the big boys. The only positive news to share is that the ball has bounced in a crazy way towards the FCS thus far in the season. Maybe the second weekend of the season will bring back stunning upsets.
Why Marshall Might Win: Marshall is as good as any team among the non-BCS pools and do not be shocked if they score 40 by halftime. Cato is a baller under center, but so are the weapons at his disposal. The defense gets zero love, but they can hold their own. The job that Doc Holliday has done better not go unnoticed this season if they pick up double-digit victories. This team is darn near good enough to beat some BCS teams, and it will get its chance on the road in Blacksburg in a month. For the time being, enjoy the beatdowns they will be putting on teams from the non-conference.
Who To Watch Out For: Marshall WR Tommy Shuler. The three stars for the Herd are all from the state of Florida: Cato, TE Gator Hoskins and Shuler. These studs can do it all, but the dynamic wide receivers on this team are the ones who stretch the field for the running game. Standing at just 5-7 may sound like an easy task, but this dude is an albatross to defend for any defense.
What Will Happen: This isn't rocket science. The Thundering Herd is the far superior team and they will continue to gouge opponents thanks to its seemingly unstoppable offense. This is one of the top teams to keep an eye out this year in terms of stealing a bid to the BCS. Marshall is fully capable of beating every team on the schedule, including Ohio and Virginia Tech. The passing attack is tremendous to watch and the running game has been a constant work in progress that is improving by the day.
Prediction: Marshall 66 … Gardner-Webb 10
Line: Marshall -42 o/u: 66
Must See Rating: (5 Olbermann – 1 Total Divas) … 1

North Texas (1-0) at Ohio (0-1) Sept. 7, 7:00, ESPN3

Why You Should Give A Hoot: Things couldn't have gone much better for North Texas in its opener, destroying a bad Idaho team 40-6 after cranking out 40 unanswered points. The defense got down 6-0 early, but didn't allow a thing after. Meanwhile, things couldn't have gone much worse for Ohio to kick things off, getting picked clean by Teddy Bridgewater and Louisville in a blowout loss. It was a bad day against a great team, and now Ohio has to show that it was just an aberration.

Why North Texas Might Win: Bridgewater took target practice on the Ohio secondary, and now Derek Thompson might do the same. The North Texas passer completed 23-of-27 throws for 349 yards and two touchdowns, firing at will. Can Ohio generate any pressure? It couldn't against the Cardinals.

Why Ohio Might Win: North Texas isn't Louisville. Lost in the blowout was how Idaho was able to move the ball without a problem. 11 penalties and three turnovers turned out to be a big deal, but the offense came up with 369 yards of total offense. The Mean Green secondary can be thrown on, and Ohio has to try.

Who To Watch Out For: The stars didn't show up for Ohio. Tyler Tettleton completed just 11-of-23 passes for 140 yards, while Beau Blankenship ran 12 times for 22 yards and never, ever got loose. The Mean Green will focus on stuffing Blankenship first, and Tettleton has to make the secondary pay. He has to prove again that he can do that.
What Will Happen: Ohio will rebound nicely. North Texas isn't bad, but this is a good, strong, smart team that will show that last week was a disaster because of the competition. Things will be slightly different against the Mean Green.
Prediction: Ohio 37 … North Texas 21
Line: Ohio -4.5 o/u: 58.5
Must See Rating: (5 Olbermann – 1 Total Divas) … 1.5

Lamar (1-0) at Louisiana Tech (0-1) Sept. 7, 8:00 ET, ESPN3.com

Why You Should Give A Hoot: The Lamar Cardinals won handily in their opener over OK Panhandle State, whereas Louisiana Tech was housed 40-14 by NC State. The loss of Bulldogs QB Colby Cameron will be one to watch, as he has since graduated, and finding a consistent replacement will not be easy. Scotty Young was not asked much in the opener, and falling behind 24-0 before halftime certainly had to hurt. Will they be able to have a bounce back game?

Why Lamar Might Win: Forget repetition, the FCS squads have had the number of the FBS and this could be another game to keep an eye on. Lamar had no issues scoring points in its opener, but the major step up in competition could be daunting. The hope is Lamar will slow down RB Kenneth Dixon, which will put a ton of pressure on the new, inexperienced signal-caller.

Why Louisiana Tech Might Win: The Bulldogs still have a workhorse in the backfield that they can feed the rock to whenever trouble a brews. It was difficult against a stingy NC State defense, but Lamar isn't nearly as legit. Look for Dixon to find plenty of running room, which will set up the passing game without any difficulty. Dixon likely will not even be needed for the second half, which will be good since the starters should get some rest with conference play coming up.

Who To Watch Out For: Thomas McDonald. One of the better defensive players for the Bulldogs would be their starting safety and was all over the field against NC State last weekend. Expect a few bone-jarring hits that should help propel them towards their first victory of the season. This team is fully capable of putting a shutout together, but it starts with doing the simple things. Winning the turnover battle is imperative and losing it four times compared to one takeaway is not going to get it done.
What Will Happen: Louisiana Tech is way too talented to have an abysmal season and while things looked tough on the road against NC State, better days will be there for them. It starts with the home opener against Lamar, which should produce a rather stellar offensive performance.
Prediction: Louisiana Tech 45 … Lamar 10
Line: Louisiana Tech -28 o/u: 45
Must See Rating: (5 Olbermann – 1 Total Divas) … 1

Colorado State (0-1) at Tulsa (0-1) Sept. 7, 7:00, CBS Sports Network

Why You Should Give A Hoot: Having suffered through demoralizing losses in Week 1, Colorado State and Tulsa are both approaching this week with a greater sense of urgency. An 0-2 start could create a ditch that's difficult to escape over the final 10 games. The Golden Hurricane is coming off its worst outing in years, a 34-7 loss to Bowling Green in a game that was considered a toss-up in the preseason. The Rams on Sunday were a microcosm for the Mountain West's opening weekend woes, bowing to rival Colorado, 41-27, in the annual Rocky Mountain Showdown.
Why Colorado State Might Win: The Rams showed a little pop on offense in Denver, an indication that the offense may be ready to turn the corner in head coach Jim McElwain's second season. Garrett Grayson is an emerging quarterback, who'll be looking to exploit a rebuilding Tulsa defense. The Hurricane had particular problems slowing the Bowling Green ground game last Thursday.
Why Tulsa Might Win: Colorado State has its own defensive woes after getting torched through the air by Buffs QB Connor Wood and WR Paul Richardson. Can erratic Hurricane QB Cody Green match the aforementioned numbers? No, but he should be able to put WR Keyarris Garrett in a position to make a few big plays. Oh, and backs Trey Watts and Ja'Terian Douglas can't possibly be as ineffective as they were against Bowling Green.
Who To Watch Out For: Colorado State is likely to be without its best offensive player, RB Donnell Alexander, who injured his hand. The Rams really need you to step up this week, Chris Nwoke.

- Green is a leader and the undisputed starter for Tulsa. However, a couple more games like last week will get him benched at some point in favor of redshirt freshman Dane Evans.

- Each side houses a playmaking 250-pound linebacker who'll be looking to make a statement this week. Tulsa's Shawn Jackson and Colorado State Shaquil Barrett are both capable of imposing their will on this game.
What Will Happen: Tulsa, the defending Conference USA champ, isn't as sharp as last season, but it can't possibly be as bad as it looked a week ago. Two extra days of preparation and a return home will help get the Golden Hurricane back on track. Watts and Douglas will lead the way on the ground, combining to rush for 175 yards and a couple of scores.
Prediction: Tulsa 31 … Colorado State 20
strong> Line: Tulsa -10 o/u: 53.5
Must See Rating: (5 Olbermann – 1 Total Divas) … 2

New Mexico (0-1) at UTEP (0-0) Sept. 7, 8:00

Why You Should Give A Hoot: The Lobos and the Miners are set to meet for the 77th time, a regional rivalry between schools that once resided together in the WAC for three decades. UTEP was one of six FBS schools that had a bye last week, which means this Saturday marks the beginning of the Sean Kugler era in El Paso. The program is trying to reverse a trend of seven straight losing seasons that resulted in the ouster of former coach Mike Price. New Mexico stumbled out of the gates in Week 1 with a home loss to UTSA in a game that it initially led 13-0. The Lobos have dropped 15 straight games in the state of Texas.
Why New Mexico Might Win: UTEP will have problems stopping the Lobos' running game, especially as it begins life with a slew of new starters on the defensive side of the ball. New Mexico will pound incessantly on the Miners' front seven with a combination of athletic QB Cole Gautsche and RB Kasey Carrier. Carrier rushed for a school-record 1,469 yards in 2012, and will be running behind four of last season's five starting blockers.
Why UTEP Might Win: The Miners will have the offensive balance that New Mexico simply won't be able to match. UTEP has a pretty good running back of its own, Nathan Jeffery, but QB Jameill Showers is liable to be the difference-maker. The Texas A&M transfer, who lost his battle with Johnny Manziel last year, has an NFL arm, which is exciting news for well-sized receivers Jordan Leslie and Ian Hamilton.
Who To Watch Out For: Showers could get introduced once or twice to New Mexico NT Jacori Greer, a sudden pass rusher capable of busting through the line and into the backfield.

- What can UTEP expect from S Richard Spencer this week? Arguably the Miners' best defensive player is returning from a serious knee injury, and has yet to be cleared to the opener.

- It could be a long evening for Lobos CB Cranston Jones. The 5-9 sophomore will struggle to match the UTEP receivers, who go two-deep with pass-catchers no smaller than 6-1.
What Will Happen: New staff. New season. New quarterback. There'll be a little extra hint of excitement in the El Paso air when UTEP trots onto the field this weekend. That plus a more balanced all-around offense will help carry the Miners to a successful start for Kugler at his alma mater.
Prediction: UTEP 28 … New Mexico 20
strong> Line: UTEP -6.5 o/u: 48
Must See Rating: (5 Olbermann – 1 Total Divas) … 1.5