C-USA Fearless Predictions, Nov. 3

Posted Jun 11, 2007

Previews and Predictions for the Week 10 C-USA Games.

Conference USA

East  UAB | UCF | East Carolina | Marshall | Memphis | Southern Miss
West  Houston | Rice | SMU | Tulane | Tulsa | UTEP

CUSA Fearless Predictions Sept. 1Sept. 8 | Sept. 15Sept. 22 | Sept. 29 
Oct. 6Oct. 13 | Oct. 20Oct. 27 | Nov. 10 | Nov. 17Nov. 24Dec. 1   

How are the picks so far? SU: 53-19 ... ATS: 34-30-1

C-USA Fearless Predictions, Week 10, Part 2

Conference USA Game of the Week

East Carolina (5-4) at Memphis (4-4)  2:00 EST
Why to watch: The game of the week in Conference USA pits two of the remaining three teams in the East with just a single loss in league play.  A divisional elimination game of sorts, the winner will be no worse than tied with UCF by Sunday morning, while the loser will be forced to play catch up in November.  In a month of wild games and frenzied finishes, East Carolina enjoyed a rare rocking chair game, pounding UAB behind its best defensive effort of the year.  By virtue of their defeat of UCF, the Pirates are three wins away from taking the division.  Having already doubled last year’s win total, Memphis has been one of the league’s pleasant surprises in 2007.  That the Tigers are even contending for a 13th game this late is a testament to the job Tommy West has done, overcoming key injuries on offense and finding ways to win close games.  With three of its final four games at the Liberty Bowl, Memphis has a legitimate shot of winning seven games and landing a bowl berth, even if the league title bid falls short.
Why East Carolina might win: A weak Memphis defensive unit is not going to hold up well against a Pirate offense that’s averaged 44 points over its last four conference games.  The biggest concern for the home team will be a 96th-ranked run defense that’s going to have its hands full with versatile speedster Chris Johnson, who can get to the outside in a hurry, and is second in the league in all-purpose running.  Although the ECU defense will give up real estate, it also leads Conference USA in takeaways, which will be the difference in an evenly-matched game.
Why Memphis might win: The Tigers like to get vertical on offense.  East Carolina can’t stop the pass.  The Pirates are 112th in the country in pass defense, which can’t be hidden versus a Memphis team that has a veteran quarterback and a deep set of receivers that can create mismatches with ECU secondary.  The Tiger defense, on the other hand, has picked off a pass in each of the last four games, so the erratic quarterback combination of Rob Kass and Patrick Pinkney better not telegraph its passes Saturday afternoon.
Who to watch: East Carolina WR Jamar Bryant has begun to percolate in his sophomore season, catching a touchdown pass in each of the last four games, while giving Pirate quarterbacks a genuine threat to stretch opposing defenses.  Well-sized and physical when the ball is in the air, he’s the successor to Aundrae Allison at the position in Greenville.
What will happen: Behind the big-play potential of Johnson and Bryant, East Carolina’s offensive success in league games will continue, fueling a springboard victory at the expense of Memphis.
CFN Prediction: East Carolina 38 … Memphis 27 ... Line: East Carolina -5
Must See Rating: (5 Heidi Klum on Victoria's Secret Fashion Show - 1 Heidi Klum on Oprah) ... 2

Conference USA Saturday, November 3rd

UTEP (4-4) at Rice (1-7) 3:00 EST
Why to watch: UTEP has dropped some tough games, but none that stung more than last week’s three-point loss to Houston that would catapulted the team into the West Division lead.  While the division isn’t completely out of reach for the Miners, they’re more likely to be playing for a bowl berth than a conference title over the next month.  UTEP’s offense is diverse and explosive, and its games have been enormously entertaining, four weeks running.  After a flicker of hope in the Oct. 3 upset of Southern Miss, Rice has reverted back to its early season form, losing close games and failing to overcome a profoundly bad defense.  The Owls can, however, puts points on the board, so Saturday’s game has the potential to be rife with fireworks and gaudy offensive numbers.
Why UTEP might win: After the opener with Nicholls State, the Rice defense has been beaten like a drum, allowing 522 yards and 41 points a game.  The Owls have been scorched by far less explosive offenses than the one that’ll be heading to Houston this week.  The Miners are second in the league in scoring, getting consistent production from the Trevor Vittatoe to Jeff Moturi connection, and the running of Marcus Thomas.  UTEP will score enough points this week to be able to exhale in the fourth quarter for the first time in a month.
Why Rice might win: The Owls and the Miners share a similar problem, an inability to stop the opposition.  UTEP is allowing an average of 43 points over the last four games, and is getting whipped by the run and the pass.  Rice will counter with a potent passing attack that’s accounted for 14 touchdown passes over the last six games, and is capable of keeping it in this game for 60 minutes.  When QB Chase Clement finds his rhythm, he can frustrate defenses with his legs, or beat them by hooking up with Jarett Dillard and Toren Dixon.
Who to watch: Vittatoe to Moturi is a phrase that defensive coordinators will get tired of hearing over the next two seasons.  The quarterback is a freshman, and the receiver only a sophomore, so they’ve only just begun to develop a chemistry within the UTEP offense.  Vittatoe has been on fire for the last five times, helping turn Moturi into one of the league’s most dangerous pass-catchers.  Get used to it.
What will happen: Whatever hangover UTEP has from last week’s loss to Houston won’t last long.  The Miners will get the offense cranking by the second quarter, soaring past a Rice team that can’t stop anyone these days.
CFN Prediction: UTEP 41 … Rice 31 ... Line: UTEP -7
Must See Rating: (5 Heidi Klum on Victoria's Secret Fashion Show - 1 Heidi Klum on Oprah) ... 1.5

Marshall (1-7) at UCF (5-3)  3:30 EST
Why to watch: For very different reasons, both Marshall and UCF had breakthrough wins a week ago.  The Herd bid adieu to Utah State and Florida International in the ranks of the winless, topping Rice 34-21 behind the running and passing of Bernard Skinner.  The Knights doubled up Southern Miss in Hattiesburg for their second impressive league win in-a-row.  UCF appears to have fully recovered from back-to-back ugly losses to East Carolina and South Florida, and is a key player in the East Division race.  In RB Kevin Smith, it houses the nation’s No. 2 rusher, and a prime candidate to be named Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year.  With no margin for error in the division, and a soft upcoming schedule, the Knights can ill-afford to look past an inferior opponent this weekend.
Why Marshall might win: Even when it was losing games, the Herd played better football in October than it did in September.  The offense was a little more consistent, the defense tighter, and after finally winning a game, the team can stop pressing and just play.  UCF has had enough defensive lapses this season to believe that Morris, and the running tandem of Darius Marshall and Chubb Small, will be able to keep this game competitive deep into the second half.
Why UCF might win: While Marshall has improved over the past few weeks, its run defense remains a glaring liability, particularly this week.  Smith is a game-changer that can single-handedly move the chains while wearing down an opposing defense.  He’ll pound away at the Herd 25-30 times, opening things up for QB Kyle Israel, who’s playing his most consistent ball of the season.  On defense, UCF has gotten back on track the last two weeks, creating pressure up front with DE Leger Douzable and LB Bruce Miller, while picking off seven passes.
Who to watch: While no receiver is going to put up huge numbers in the UCF offense, freshman Kamar Aiken has established himself as the go-to guy when the Knights aren’t keeping it on the ground.  A big receiver with good speed, he’ll be a household name in the league by next season, especially if UCF can get better play behind center.
What will happen: UCF is beginning to get on a roll that won’t be stopped by a Marshall team that’s flawed on both sides of the ball.  As has been the formula for success all year, the Knights will ride another 150-yard, two-touchdown day from Smith to bowl eligibility.
CFN Prediction: UCF 34 … Marshall 21 ... Line: UCF -14
Must See Rating: (5 Heidi Klum on Victoria's Secret Fashion Show - 1 Heidi Klum on Oprah) ... 2

C-USA Fearless Predictions, Week 10, Part 2


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