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Week 3 CUSA -Tulane vs. La Tech & More
Week 3 Fearless Predictions - Tulane at Louisiana Tech & More, Part 1
CUSA Week 3 - Florida Atlantic at USF & More, Part 2
Tulane (1-1) at Louisiana Tech (1-1) Sept. 12, 7:30, Fox Sports 1
Why You Should Give A Hoot: Tulane and Louisiana Tech, separated by 300 miles, will be meeting for the eighth time, but the first time as mutual members of Conference USA. The Bulldogs reached .500 with last weekend’s 27-14 victory over Lamar, the first with Skip Holtz at the helm. Tulane, though, is coming off a 41-39 loss to South Alabama, when its rally fell short. For the Green Wave program, it’ll be an emotional return to Ruston, where the team was forced to stay in 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Why Tulane Might Win: The Green Wave should be able to move the ball on the questionable Louisiana Tech defense. The potential exists for Tulane to capitalize on the Bulldogs on the ground with Orleans Darkwa and through the air when QB Nick Montana connects with WR Ryan Grant. Nearly half of Montana’s completions have gone to Grant, a future pro.
Why Louisiana Tech Might Win: There’s no reason to believe that the Bulldogs can’t match whatever Tulane puts on the board. The Green Wave just got done being paddled for 465 yards by South Alabama. Tech will answer with RB Tevin King and QB Scotty Young. King came off the bench to rush for 182 yards on 20 carries after Kenneth Dixon was injured.
Who To Watch Out For: Young has a live arm, but who’d know it after the first two games? He has only one completion of at least 35 yards, and he’s averaging only six yards an attempt.
- The Green Wave will count on DT Julius Warmsley to cause problems in the backfield. The most active of the linemen is going up against an overhauled Bulldog line.
- Holtz is becoming increasingly pleased with the play of his front seven. Ends Vontarrius Dora and IK Enemkpali get off the snap quickly, and LB Daniel Cobb already has six stops behind the line.
What Will Happen: While neither team is playing very well after two weeks, Louisiana Tech has the home field edge and just a bit more pop in the running game. It’ll be the difference in a matchup that could flip sides on a turnover or a big special teams play. Tulane has dropped 12 straight outside the Superdome.
Prediction: Louisiana Tech 34 … Tulane 24
Line: Louisiana Tech -7.5 o/u: 56
Must See Rating: (5 Boardwalk Empire – 1 Teen Beach Movie) … 1.5
Virginia Tech (1-1) at East Carolina (2-0) Sept. 14, 12:00, Fox Sports 1
Why You Should Give A Hoot: Having lost nine of the last 10 meetings with Virginia Tech, East Carolina is looking at this week’s visitor the way a hungry man eyes a Thanksgiving bird. The Pirates have a legitimate shot of knocking off the Gobblers in front of the Dowdy-Ficklen faithful, which might even put the school on the outskirts of the BCS-buster map. ECU has used a high-powered offense to jet past Old Dominion and Florida Atlantic in the first two games. Virginia Tech rebounded from its Week 1 loss to Alabama with a win to even its record. Unfortunately, the victim was Western Carolina, so there’s no way of knowing just how competitive the Hokies will be in the ACC Coastal. This is a team that could go in either direction this fall, with Saturday afternoon looming as a possible crossroad.
Why Virginia Tech Might Win: The D is exceptional, and certainly a few rungs above East Carolina on the defensive ladder. Forget Western Carolina. The Hokies set the tone with their performance against the Crimson Tide, taking it to the defending national champs at the point of attack. Tech is fast and physical, boasting a slew of playmakers, from DE James Gayle and LB Jack Tyler to CB Kyle Fuller. This is by far the toughest defense the Pirates will face all season.
Why East Carolina Might Win: Okay, so the Pirates won’t turn the game into a track meet, but it won’t take an eruption to outscore the Hokies. While Tech lacks consistency and execution, especially in the passing game, East Carolina sports diversity with the passing of Shane Carden and the running of Vintavious Cooper. Sure-handed Justin Hardy will be the most reliable receiver on either team this weekend. In a tough spot late in the game, Carden might actually be the safer bet than his counterpart from Blacksburg, Logan Thomas.
Who To Watch Out For: As is often the case with the Hokies, pass-fail depends on the play of Thomas. If he’s good, Tech rolls. If he’s sailing throws, Tech is eminently vulnerable.
- Do not sleep on the ECU D. Yeah, it’s not the school’s calling card, but the unit already has eight sacks, three from DE Lee Pegues, four picks and three forced fumbles. The Pirates are feisty.
- One of Thomas’ issues, besides mechanics, is that his targets are really, really young and raw. The East Carolina secondary may not be ACC-caliber, but it is comprised of three seniors who’ve played a lot of football in Greenville.
- The fact that the Pirates have allowed five sacks so far qualifies as a bad omen. Virginia Tech is so much quicker off the snap than ECU’s first two opponents, Old Dominion and Florida Atlantic.
What Will Happen: Virginia Tech is vulnerable. East Carolina is geeked. It’s a formula for a Week 3 upset. The Pirates won’t beat the Hokies’ defense the traditional way, with long drives or explosive plays. Tech is too stingy for that to happen. No, ECU will use turnovers and special teams to put points on the board, wreaking havoc on Thomas to send the locals into a tizzy. Unless Thomas can become the leader of his program, the Hokies are going to be ripe for the picking, especially outside Blacksburg.
Prediction: East Carolina 27 … Virginia Tech 24
Line: Virginia Tech -7.5 o/u: 51
Must See Rating: (5 Hard Knocks – 1 ‘N Sync on the VMAs) … 3.5
Tulsa (1-1) at Oklahoma (2-0) Sept. 14, 12:00, ESPN2
Why You Should Give A Hoot: In-state foes Tulsa and Oklahoma renew acquaintances in a series that the Sooners have dominated of late. No. 14 OU has won its first two games of the year, but last week’s 16-7 escape of West Virginia generated far more questions than answers. This week marks the starting debut for popular QB Blake Bell, who’s stepping in for the injured Trevor Knight. This is not the same Golden Hurricane team that stood near the top of the mid-majors the past few seasons. Tulsa was blown out in Week 1 before narrowly getting by Colorado State in a game it was heavily favored to coast.
Why Tulsa Might Win: It used to take a lot of points to hang with the Sooners, but that might not be the case in 2013. Oklahoma is one-dimensional right now, unable to balance the running of Brennan Clay, Damien Williams and the quarterbacks with any kind of a passing attack. In fact, the Sooners have completed just 44.4% of their throws. If the Hurricane can unleash its own backfield duo of Trey Watts and Ja’Terian Douglas, it has a shot to pull out a low-scoring scrum.
Why Oklahoma Might Win: Yeah, both offenses are misfiring, but the Sooners have the much tougher D. They also don’t have to contend with Tulsa’s best target in the passing game, injured WR Keyarris Garrett. Coordinator Mike Stoops has done a terrific job so far with the OU defense, which has allowed seven points in eight quarters. It’s been especially tough against the pass, clamping down with an air-tight secondary led by CB Aaron Colvin.
Who To Watch Out For: You’ve got your shot, Belldozer. Now, what are you going to do with it? Everyone knows what Bell can do as a glorified fullback, but he also needs to show the staff that he can get receivers Jalen Saunders and Sterling Shepard more involved with the attack.
- As well as the OU defense has played so far, where’s the pressure? The Sooners have just two sacks, none from one of the defensive linemen.
- Tulsa QB Cody Green was already struggling to complete passes downfield, a familiar problem for the former Nebraska Husker. Without Garrett on the outside, the Hurricane will be doubly impotent on third-and-long.
What Will Happen: There’s no reason for Oklahoma to get exotic this weekend in order to dispose of Tulsa. Ground-and-pound will work just fine. The Sooners will bludgeon the Hurricane with a mix of Clay, Williams and Bell to end any threat of an upset from an opponent that does not thrive when forced into comeback mode.
Prediction: Oklahoma 31 … Tulsa 10
Line: Oklahoma -24.5 o/u: 47.5
Must See Rating: (5 Boardwalk Empire – 1 Teen Beach Movie) … 2.5
Southern Miss (0-2) at Arkansas (2-0) Sept. 14, 12:21, ESPN3
Why You Should Give A Hoot: One more game left on the homestand before things start getting very interesting for Arkansas. The Razorbacks defeated Louisiana and Samford in the first two games of the Bret Bielema era in Fayetteville, but up next is a trip to Rutgers, followed by a visit from Texas A&M. If the Hogs are going to tweak on both sides of the ball, now is the time to do it. Southern Miss, to the contrary, is in the midst of a three-game road swing, losers of its first two games with Texas State and Nebraska. The Golden Eagles are going to take their lumps in Todd Monken’s first season in Hattiesburg, attempting to lay a foundation on which it can really start building in 2014.
Why Southern Miss Might Win: Arkansas did not play especially well last Saturday, needing to rally in the final stanza to escape the clutches of an FCS opponent. Samford had success on the ground against the Hogs, getting 105 yards from RB Fabian Truss. The Golden Eagles will strive for similar production out of Tyre Bracken and Kendrick Hardy, while mixing in throws from Cal transfer Allan Bridgford.
Why Arkansas Might Win: After seeing Southern Miss get stampeded by the Huskers last week, similar results are expected this weekend at Reynolds Razorback Stadium. The Hogs are looking an awful lot Bielema’s old Wisconsin teams, producing two 100-yard rushers, sophomore Jonathan Williams and touted rookie Alex Collins, in each of the first two wins. A Travis Swanson-led O-line averaging close to 320 pounds will have few problems powering the Eagles off the line of scrimmage.
Who To Watch Out For: How will Arkansas QB Brandon Allen perform in crunch time? No one knows for sure since the offense has leaned so heavily on the backs. Allen, though, has formed a connection with WR Javontee Herndon, who’s already caught three touchdown passes in his first year as a starter.
- Two games, one sack. Southern Miss will need to do a much better job of getting into the backfield in order to slow down the Arkansas attack.
- The Eagle O-line, on the other hand, will be in a 60-minute battle with an underrated Arkansas front spearheaded by DT Robert Thomas and ends Chris Smith and Trey Flowers. The trio has accounted for five sacks in two games.
What Will Happen: Arkansas will feed Southern Miss a steady diet of Collins and Williams, mixing in the occasional play-action passes from Allen. The Hogs will control the clock, wearing out an overmatched Eagle defense in the sweltering heat. Once Arkansas’ bulge reached two touchdowns, this one will be over.
Prediction: Arkansas 41 … Southern Miss 13
Line: Arkansas -22 o/u: 50.5
Must See Rating: (5 Boardwalk Empire – 1 Teen Beach Movie) … 2
Ball State (2-0) at North Texas (1-1) Sept. 14, 4:00, FSN
Why You Should Give A Hoot: The underrated matchup between the two signal-callers in this one should be an intriguing one to pay close attention to. Ball State’s Keith Wenning has been threading it, and so has North Texas’ Derek Thompson. Most have no idea who these two are, but they have had a large say thus far in the season for their programs.
Why Ball State Might Win: The Cardinals are poised under Pete Lembo to get back into the postseason, but they need their defense to be able to get a few more stops. Luckily, their offense is strong enough to help pick up some of the slack. Spreading the ball out wide with wide receivers Jamill Smith and Willie Snead has been great so far, as both are over 100 yards on the season. Their ability to stretch the field will allow their running game to develop, which certainly gives them an excellent chance of building a lead into the fourth quarter.
Why North Texas Might Win: Army absolutely gashed Ball State and it cannot slow anybody down with its small defensive front. If Army can run roughshod, there is no telling what North Texas can do with a fairly balanced offense. Talented WR Darnell Smith had a nice game in Week 2, and we could see an even better performance going up against a questionable secondary.
Who To Watch Out For: Wenning. The Muncie star quarterback is coming off his eighth game in which he threw for 300-plus yards, and there is no telling how many more of those games he can put together this season. In a game that should feature plenty of points, Wenning is the player a coach wants leading his team when it’s crunch time.
What Will Happen: Ball State may not be the sexiest squad out there, let alone even in the MAC, but it has had two consecutive non-losing seasons. Coming off a tremendous 9-4 year where they lost in the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl, the Cardinals have built a foundation for continued success under Lembo. They will go through some growing pains throughout the season, but this won’t be one of them.
Prediction: Ball State 34 … North Texas 28
Line: Ball State -3 o/u: 63
Must See Rating: (5 Boardwalk Empire – 1 Teen Beach Movie) … 1
Bethune-Cookman (2-0) at Florida International (0-2) Sept. 14, 4:00, FSN
Why You Should Give A Hoot: Florida International has a tough non-conference schedule, including this week’s visit from Bethune-Cookman. The Panthers have been steamrolled by both Maryland and UCF. Bethune-Cookman has the mighty Seminoles in Tallahassee in its next game, so both would love to stay healthy. To make matters worse, the Panthers have Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater coming up. What does this mean? The depth will be tested and the starters may not last very long with these premier programs waiting on deck. Catch the first teamers while you still can.
Why Bethune-Cookman Might Win: Coming off their 66-3 obliteration of Virginia Union, the Wildcats will be pumped for this in-state matchup. Accustomed to playing in Daytona Beach, their little road trip to Miami will give them a challenge for a program that is waiting for something great to happen. Plus, the Panthers are 0-2 all-time against Bethune-Cookman so history could repeat itself.
Florida International Might Win: Florida International has learned a lot in the last two weeks against Maryland and UCF, and it is way overdue to put some points on the board. Its offense is dead last in scoring offense at five points per game, and it ranks 112th nationally in scoring defense. This team stinks right now, but it will win at least one game this season. QB Jake Medlock is experienced enough to find a few of the playmakers, and the program is truly desperate to earn a victory.
Who To Watch Out For: Medlock. Most fans across the country have a huge fascination about quarterbacks since they get all the love or hate after every weekend. Medlock might be the only signal-caller you know nothing about because of the team he plays for. However, he threw just two picks last season, and he does not have one yet on the season despite his team’s two beatdowns. Taking care of the ball will be vital for the junior.
What Will Happen: Out of the 22 main categories that the NCAA keeps track of, FIU is not in the top 50 in any of them. The Panthers are as bad as it gets right now in college football. They cannot let this game slip by. Playing at home is critical, and they will find T.J. Lowder at wide receiver early and often. It won’t be pretty, but the Panthers will knock off the Wildcats in a classic game that nobody will be talking about.
Prediction: Florida International 28 … Bethune-Cookman 24
Line: Bethune-Cookman -3 o/u: 47
Must See Rating: (5 Boardwalk Empire – 1 Teen Beach Movie) … 1
CUSA Week 3 - Florida Atlantic at USF & More, Part 2