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C-USA Fearless Predictions, Nov. 3, Part 2

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Nov 1, 2007


Previews and Predictions for the Week 10 Conference USA Games, Part 2


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 1

Conference USA Saturday, November 3rd

Southern Miss (4-4) at UAB (2-6)   7:00 EST
Why to watch: After losing to UCF and dropping into fourth place in the East Division, Southern Miss is banking on history repeating itself.  The Golden Eagles were in the same position late last October before rallying down the stretch for four straight wins and a divisional crown.  It’ll take a similar effort plus lots of help in November for USM to dig out of a self-imposed hole that’s been the result of too many turnovers and not enough healthy bodies behind center.  Although UAB put up a respectable fight throughout the first half of the year, it appears to be running out of gas about a month before the finish line.  The Blazers have been smoked by Houston and East Carolina the last two weeks, falling victim to a lack of depth and talent versus two of the league’s better teams.  While UAB can hang with the Tulanes and Marshalls on the schedule, it’s going to get exposed by more accomplished opponents, such as the one visiting Birmingham this weekend.
Why Southern Miss might win: The Eagles are going to run the ball, and then they’re going to run it a little more.  UAB sports one of the nation’s worst run defenses, which is just the ammunition Jeff Bower needs to justify 30 carries for Damion Fletcher, who’s more than capable of turning those touches into 150 yards and a couple of scores.  Southern Miss will also be getting a boost from the healthy return of QB Jeremy Young, a multi-dimensional player that’ll give an already overmatched Blazer D one more thing to worry about Saturday.
Why UAB might win: Assuming that Southern Miss is Southern Miss on defense would be dismissing everything that’s happened the last two months.  The Eagles are as vulnerable as they’ve been in years, looking equally porous versus the run as the pass, good news for either Sam Hunt or Joseph Webb, the two quarterbacks Neil Callaway is considering for this weekend’s game.  If USM, which is 10th in the league in turnovers lost, continue to be sloppy with the ball, it’ll have a tough time beating anyone this month.
Who to watch: While Tulane’s Matt Forte and UCF’s Kevin Smith are going to be the All-Conference USA backs this year, Fletcher gets a chance to share the spotlight on Saturday.  Against a Blazer defense allowing 237 yards a game on the ground, a fifth straight 100-yard day is a certainty, and the sophomore’s career-high of 177 yards will be within range late in the game.
What will happen: Needing this game to remain in bowl contention, Southern Miss will play keep-away on the ground, rushing for well over 200 yards in a comfortable win.
CFN Prediction: Southern Miss 31 … UAB 16 ... Line: Southern Miss -11
Must See Rating: (5 Heidi Klum on Victoria's Secret Fashion Show - 1 Heidi Klum on Oprah) ... 1.5

Tulsa (5-3) at Tulane (2-6)   7:30 EST, CSTV
Why to watch: RB Matt Forte has given everyone from fans to NFL scouts a reason to pay attention to Tulane games in 2007.  The nation’s leading rusher at 192 yards a clip has gone over 200 yards in five of the last six games, and is on pace to have the third best single season by a back in NCAA history behind Barry Sanders and Marcus Allen.  Forte will again be on display this Saturday against Tulsa’s 100th-ranked run defense.  To remain viable in the Conference USA West, the Hurricane cannot get caught looking ahead to next week’s showdown with Houston.  Tulsa remained a game behind the Cougars with last weekend’s dramatic squeaker over SMU that required a fourth quarter rally on a 51-yard touchdown pass with under a minute left in the game.
Why Tulsa might win: The pass-happy Golden Hurricane is going to decimate a Tulane pass defense that yields 281 yards a game, and ranks 110th in the country.  Paul Smith is the engineer of a Tulsa offense that ranks No. 3 nationally in passing and total offense, a major concern for Bob Toledo and the Green Wave.  Smith will distribute the ball to a corps of receivers that continues to get deeper and more reliable, bombarding the hapless Tulane secondary for more than 350 yards and three touchdown passes.
Why Tulane might win: Forte has become one of those rare individuals that can take over a game and demoralize an opponent by himself.  He’ll get very little resistance this weekend from a flimsy Tulsa defense that’s permitting 200 yards rushing and 37 points a game.  As prolific as Smith has been running the hurry-up, no-huddle offense, he has thrown 14 picks, and will face regular pressure from Antonio Harris and a Green Wave defense that leads the league in sacks.
Who to watch: As a fullback in a wide-open offense, Tulsa’s Charles Clay has somehow become a playmaker in his rookie year.  While the true freshman doesn’t get many carries, he is one of Smith’s preferred safety valves, catching 35 passes for 551 yards and four scores.  Last weekend’s game-winning touchdown grab probably saved the season for the Hurricane.
What will happen: A string of three last-minute losses over the last four games will catch up with Tulane, which won’t have any answers for Smith or the Tulsa aerial attack.  Forte will obliterate another defense, but it won’t be enough to push the Green Wave over the top.
CFN Prediction: Tulsa 45 … Tulane 31 ... Line: Tulsa -6.5
Must See Rating: (5 Heidi Klum on Victoria's Secret Fashion Show - 1 Heidi Klum on Oprah) ... 1.5

Conference USA Sunday, November 4th

SMU (1-7) at Houston (5-3)   8:00 EST, ESPN
Why to watch: With three league games left, Houston is the alpha dog in the West Division of Conference USA, a position it’ll maintain by handling SMU Sunday night.  The Cougars have won three consecutive games behind a combustible offense that deserves more opportunities to be on display in front of a national TV audience.  Last week’s three-point win over UTEP pretty much eliminated the Miners from divisional contention, making the West a race between Houston and Tulsa, who’ll meet in Oklahoma next Saturday afternoon.  The Mustangs will no longer have Phil Bennett’s job status hanging over their heads.  The head coach was fired last Sunday, a day after SMU officially fell out of bowl contention.  With no job left to save or postseason game to strive toward, the Mustangs will play for pride in November, while auditioning for Bennett’s yet-to-be-named successor.
Why SMU might win: Now that the decision about Bennett’s future has been made, the Mustangs can just go out and play football, sans any other distractions on the periphery.  While SMU has lost a lot of games in 2007, it has always competed, dropping three of the last four by a touchdown or less.  Ultra-competitive QB Justin Willis always gives the program a chance for the upset, especially when facing a Houston defense that’s been spotty, and allows more than 30 points a game.
Why Houston might win: If you could boil Bennett’s dismissal down to one thing, it would be that SMU was never able to regroup on defense in 2007.  The Mustangs have been routinely horrible, allowing 483 yards and 36 points a game, numbers the potent Cougar offense will surpass.  While RB Anthony Alridge and WR Donnie Avery are blurs that can’t be contained, the quarterback rotation of Case Keenum and Blake Joseph has somehow been handled brilliantly by Art Briles.  With a rare opportunity to get in front of a national audience, Houston’s offensive stars will shine brightly Sunday night.
Who to watch: If SMU has any hope for an upset, it better get a hat or two on Houston Phillip Hunt, the Cougars’ best pass rusher, and the type of end that can pressure Willis out of his comfort zone.  The team leader with 9.5 tackles for loss, he’ll get plenty of chances to pad that number against a pedestrian set of Mustang tackles.
What will happen: SMU will land a few early jabs on offense, but the Houston offense will tear through the Mustang defense for more than 500 yards, en route to a comfortable victory.
CFN Prediction: Houston 45 … SMU 20 ... Line: Houston -18.5
Must See Rating: (5 Heidi Klum on Victoria's Secret Fashion Show - 1 Heidi Klum on Oprah) ... 1.5

C-USA Fearless Predictions, Week 10, Part 1