C-USA Fearless Predictions, Week 5, Part 2

Posted Sep 22, 2006

Preview and predictions for the week five Conference USA games ... Part 2

Conference USA

East  UAB | UCF | East Carolina | Marshall | Memphis | Southern Miss
West  Houston | Rice | SMU | Tulane | Tulsa | UTEP
Past C-USA Picks:
Week One | Week Two | Week Three | Week Four

How'd we do so far? 32-7 straight up, 17-14-1 ATS

Week Five C-USA Fearless Predictions | Get Tickets for These Games

Troy (1-3) at UAB (1-3)  7:00 PM EST  Saturday September 30th
Why to watch: Troy and UAB enter this week’s game in very similar situations.  Both are 1-3, battle-tested and talented enough to nearly pull off seismic, early-season upsets with Troy almost beating Florida State and UAB pushing Oklahoma.  Both are also gassed, banged up, and in dire need of momentum-changing wins.  The Blazers dropped a heart-breaker in overtime to Mississippi State last weekend, getting minimal production from quarterbacks Chris Williams and Sam Hunt.  As many as nine starters may be out this week, so their depth will be tested.  The Trojans hung tough with the Noles and Georgia Tech in consecutive weeks, but completely collapsed in a 56-0 loss to Nebraska last Saturday. 
Why Troy might win: The mess that’s become the UAB offense is being exacerbated by injuries to the receivers, Williams and Julius Wilson, the team’s best offensive lineman.  The Blazers are averaging just 11 points a game and are 107th in the country in total offense, which puts too much pressure on the defense to pitch shutouts.
Why UAB might win: That Blazer defense has been holding up very nicely so far this month, keeping the program close in games against Oklahoma and Georgia.  Troy’s only scored 37 points the past three games and lacks the offensive balance to do much damage against a solid UAB front seven.
Why to watch: Haugabook can make plays, but he’s also sporadic, throwing six interceptions over the last three games.  He’ll have to pay special attention to Blazer Larry McSwain, a small but very quick end who leads UAB in sacks and will force Haugabook to put his inconsistency on display Saturday night. 
What will happen: It won’t be pretty on either side, but UAB will make enough plays on offense and stops on defense to escape with a much-needed victory.

CFN Prediction
: UAB 23 ... Troy 14 ... Line: UAB -9.5
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip) ... 2

SMU (2-2) at Tulane (1-2)  7:30 PM EST  CSTV Saturday September 30th
Why to watch: When SMU visits Tulane Saturday, it’ll be more than just a football game, as college football returns to the Crescent City 13 months after Hurricane Katrina made the Superdome uninhabitable.  The never-ending road trip finally ends for the Green Wave, who’ll forever be linked to a Mustang team that hosted them after last August’s catastrophe.  When Tulane’s been good this year, it’s been good.  When it’s been bad, it’s been real bad.  Sandwiched between six-touchdown losses to Houston and LSU was an upset of Mississippi State that displayed the potential of the Green Wave offense.  In two weeks, SMU has done a complete 180, scoring 100 points in routs of Sam Houston State and Arkansas State.  A third straight win would shift the Mustangs back on course for what was supposed to be a breakthrough season.
Why SMU might win: Okay, the competition has certainly been a factor; however, it’s hard not to be impressed by the progress the offense has made after scoring just nine points in weeks one and two.  Justin Willis is playing out of his mind over the last two games, throwing nine touchdown passes and only ten incompletions, while fellow freshman James Mapps bolstered the running game with 132 yards on 14 carries last Saturday.  Considering Tulane’s inability to stop the run or the pass, there’s reason to believe Willis & Co. will remain warm.
Why Tulane might win: Did you see the Saints game Monday night? Tulane won’t generate the same electricity, however, it will get an uncommonly generous lift from a jacked up home crowd.  The Mustang secondary is beatable, something Lester Ricard, or Scott Elliott if Ricard’s still woozy from his LSU beating, will recognize and exploit early and often Saturday night.
Who to watch: Where in the world has Tulane’s Preston Brown been?  Last year’s leading receiver and long-ball threat has just seven catches for 41 yards, or less than six yards a grab.  The Green Wave needs Brown to stretch the Mustang secondary in order for big back Matt Forte to have a little more running room.
What will happen
: In a game with this much meaning and emotion, records and conventional wisdom are helpless.  Tulane is not a very good football team, but it’ll portray one for at least one evening.  For the second time in a week, New Orleans won’t let one of its own fail.

CFN Prediction
: Tulane 31 ... SMU 29 ... Line: SMU -2.5
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip) ...

New Mexico State (2-1) at UTEP (1-20)  9:00 PM EST  Saturday September 30th
Why to watch: Open up the lawn chairs and put the burgers on the grill.  There’s going to be fireworks in El Paso Saturday night.  Both New Mexico State and UTEP favor the pass, yet can’t stop it, a recipe for an old-fashioned Wild West shootout.  The Miners, looking hung over from their overtime loss to Texas Tech two weeks ago, got dumped by New Mexico Saturday, making this week a must-win game.  Season-ending injuries to LB Jeremy Jones and G Cameron Raschke haven’t helped, but are no excuse for UTEP’s sloppy play and slow starts.  True to form, New Mexico State has morphed into an aerial circus under second-year coach Hal Mumme.  The Aggies have made considerable strides in 2006, snapping a 13-game losing streak and nearly beating the same New Mexico team that doubled up UTEP last weekend.
Why New Mexico State might win: It took a patient year with Tony Samuel’s recruits, but Mumme has found his gunslinger in Chase Holbrook, the distributor in the Aggies’ top-ranked passing attack.  Holbrook will carve up a Miner defense that’s 105th nationally against the pass and still adapting to life after Jones, its most productive defensive player.
Why UTEP might win
: UTEP will fight fire with fire at the Sun Bowl.  Against the only I-A opponent it’s faced, New Mexico State allowed a backup New Mexico quarterback to throw for 317 yards and four touchdowns on just 12 completions.  Against that secondary, Jordan Palmer will have a field day, hooking up with Johnnie Lee Higgins for at least eight catches and a couple of scores.
Who to watch: Both teams would like to establish some semblance of a running game.  For UTEP it’s a priority.  The Miners are much more dangerous when they can mix in the run with the pass, meaning it’s time for the O-line to create some holes for Marcus Thomas.  Despite his three-game numbers, Thomas is still a potential 1,000-yard back when he’s not taking his first hit in the backfield.
What will happen: New Mexico State is going to land a few haymakers before recognizing that UTEP is a little bigger and a little faster than the two I-AA schools it’s trounced.  Playing from behind, Holbrook will chuck 60 passes and set a couple of Aggie single-game marks.

CFN Prediction
: UTEP 44 ... New Mexico State 27 ... Line: UTEP -17.5
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip) ... 2.5

Week Five C-USA Fearless Predictions | Get Tickets for These Games