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Conference USA Predictions, Week 6, Part 2
Posted Oct 4, 2006

Preview and predictions for the week six Conference USA, 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 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5

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

Week 6 C-USA Fearless Predictions | Get Tickets for These Games

Memphis (1-3) at UAB (2-3)  7 PM EST Saturday October 7th
Why to watch: In what figures to be a tightly-packed, competitive Eastern division, every league game is going to be particularly important this fall, especially for Memphis, which already has a conference loss.  Sporting their new 4-3 defense for the first time last Saturday, the Tigers gave up 566 yards of offense and were no match in a 41-7 loss to Tennessee.  Even with a spate of injuries on both sides of the ball has had UAB treading water the past few weeks, it found a way to get past Troy on Saturday, but lost QB Sam Hunt, who was replacing injured Chris Williams, to a badly sprained ankle.  Even when Memphis was the better team, the Blazers have found a way to take the newly-named “Battle for the Bones”, winning the last six in this series.
Why Memphis might win: Tommy West’s new defense was designed specifically for a team like UAB, who’ll try to pound the ball between the tackles since the 100th-ranked passing game has been dormant all year.  The Blazers average just 13 points a game, which isn’t going to be enough versus a Memphis offense that was scoring 26 points per Saturday before running into the Volunteers.
Why UAB might win: From the opener with Oklahoma, the Blazer D has been outstanding, getting pressure up front from Larry McSwain and Clarence Respress, while the young secondary has far exceeded expectations.  Over the last three games, UAB has allowed just 389 yards and no touchdowns through the air, a bad omen for erratic Memphis QB Martin Hankins.
Who to watch: With Nick Coon and Norris Drinkard out with injuries, WR Sylvester Mencer has stepped forward to be one of the playmakers UAB is desperately seeking.  The sophomore has had ten catches the last two weeks, including the first touchdown of his brief career in last week’s win over Troy.
What will happen
: UAB will force Hankins into untimely mistakes and get just enough from the offense for its seventh consecutive win over Memphis.

CFN Prediction: UAB 24 ... Memphis 17 ... Line: UAB -6
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Rachael Ray) ...

UL Lafayette (2-2) at Houston (4-1)  7 PM EST Saturday October 7th
Why to watch: Houston came within two points of pulling off an upset of Miami that would have propelled the Cougars to the Top 25 and into the BCS bowl discussion.  Head coach Art Briles will be the first to suggest there are no moral victories in any loss, but Houston has to feel good about taking Miami to the wire, even in a down year for the Canes.  With a rugged, second-half league schedule still to come, the Cougars have to move on and refocus on a UL Lafayette that’s good enough to pull off the upset.  The Ragin’ Cajuns are a veteran Sun Belt team that’s been bad against the good teams and good against the bad teams.  In wins over the North Carolina A&T and Eastern Michigan the last two weeks, the offense finally woke up, scoring 81 points. 
Why UL-Lafayette might win: UL Lafayette is catching Houston at an opportune time, right in between a 14-13 loss to Miami and a trip to Hattiesburg for the resumption of the Conference USA schedule.  The revived Cajuns’ offense can keep up in a likely track meet with the combination of former 1,000-yard rusher Tyrell Fenroy and versatile QB Jerry Babb.
Houston might win
: In games against Texas A&M and LSU, ULL was shredded for 96 points and almost 1,000 yards of total offense.  It simply doesn’t have the players on defense to slow down a fast and finely-tuned Cougar offense that features Kevin Kolb at the controls and a bevy of exciting playmakers flanked around him.  Before Miami, Houston had not been held under 31 points in a game, a testament to its propensity for points.
Who to watch: This is a perfect time for Cougar WR Vincent Marshall to break out of his mini-slump.  He’s been uncharacteristically quiet the last two weeks, catching just seven balls for 90 yards and a score, but will have no trouble getting behind the Ragin’ Cajun secondary for a couple of big plays.
What will happen: Houston is certainly capable of going through the motions for the first 15 or 20 minutes, however, once it realizes it’s in a game, the Cougars will rev up the offense and pull away for a comfortable victory.
CFN Prediction: Houston 41 ... UL Lafayette 20 ... Line: Houston -17.5
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Rachael Ray) ...

SMU (3-2) at UTEP (2-2)  9 PM EST Saturday October 7th
Why to watch: UTEP, Tulsa and Houston are the favorites to win Conference USA’s Western division and SMU would like to toss its sombrero into the ring with a win in El Paso Saturday night.  The Mustangs have rebounded extremely well from an 0-2 start, winning three straight and locating a relatively impressive passing game in the process.  Beating Tulane in last week’s return of college football to the Superdome was another sign the program is maturing and headed in the right direction.  UTEP is suffering from a severe case of schizophrenia, nearly knocking off Texas Tech, while coming just as close to losing to New Mexico State a week ago.  The Miners have been maddeningly inconsistent in 2006, something that needs to be addressed if they’re to remain a division favorite.     
Why SMU might win: SMU blew up UTEP ten months ago in Dallas, so forget about there being any intimidation factor.  The Mustangs know they belong in this game.  QB Justin Willis has grown exponentially over the last month, igniting a moribund offense with 13 touchdowns over the last three games.  The Miners, which have the lowest-rated pass defense in college football, will not be able to stifle the freshman’s progression.
 Why UTEP might win: The Miners’ pitch-and-catch combo of Jordan Palmer to Johnnie Lee Higgins must’ve been salivating as they watched the film of the SMU corners trying to cover Tulane’s receivers last Saturday.  The Mustangs got toasted by Lester Ricard for 398 yards and three touchdowns, failing to intercept any of his 50 passes.  Palmer, who’s coming off a 414-yard effort of his own, is going to have a field day against the SMU defensive backs.
Who to watch: The Mustangs’ best chance to control UTEP’s prolific passing game is to get pressure up front with future NFL players, Adrian Haywood and Justin Rogers.  The inside-outside D-line duo with 13 tackles for loss and six sacks is very capable of pressuring Palmer into the type of misfires that tip the scales in SMU’s favor.
What will happen: UTEP is too flaky these days to blow anyone out, let alone an SMU squad that’s confident and playing well.  However, after feasting on the likes of Sam Houston State and Arkansas State, it’s asking too much of Willis to go into the Sun Bowl and upset a program playing with a sense of desperation.

CFN Prediction
: UTEP 34 ... SMU 28 ... Line: UTEP -10
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Rachael Ray) ... 2.5

Week 6 C-USA Fearless Predictions | Get Tickets for These Games