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C-USA Fearless Predictions, Nov. 24, Part 2

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Nov 22, 2007


Previews and Predictions for the Week 13 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. 3Nov. 10 | Nov. 17Dec. 1 

How are the picks so far? SU: 65-25 ... ATS: 41-41-1

C-USA Fearless Predictions, Week 13, Part 1

Conference USA Saturday, November 24th

Arkansas State (5-6) at Southern Miss (6-5)  3:00 EST
Why to watch: Although the season has been a major disappointment for Southern Miss, it still has a chance to improve its bowl positioning and secure a 14th straight winning year by beating Arkansas State.  The Golden Eagles locked up one of the league’s six bowl berths with last week demolition of UTEP, but it’s being viewed as a consolation prize for a school that began the year as the Conference USA favorite.  The Southern Miss AD has had to dismiss rumors this month that long-time head coach Jeff Bower was on his way out, a distraction that’ll intensify if USM doesn’t finish strong.  Although a solid November hasn’t altered Arkansas State’s postseason plans, the Indians remain motivated to finish an up and down year at .500.  Having already beaten Memphis and SMU, they’ve also got a unique opportunity to go 3-0 against Conference USA with a win in Hattiesburg, a nice talking point when the staff gets back to recruiting.
Why Arkansas State might win: The Indians are home to one of the Sun Belt’s most balanced offenses, featuring the run-pass potential of QB Corey Leonard and RB Reggie Arnold, who’s on the brink of a second straight 1,000-yard season.  This is a respectable team that held up well against Texas and Tennessee, and scored 80 points in its other two games with Conference USA opponents.  Southern Miss has been wildly inconsistent throughout the year, losing to Rice and the same Memphis team that Arkansas State topped 35-31 back in September.
Why Southern Miss might win: Fueled by RB Damion Fletcher, the vaunted Eagle running game is humming, cranking out more than 300 yards on the ground in two of the last three games.  Southern Miss enjoys a considerable edge at the point of attack, which it’ll use to spring both Fletcher and Tory Harrison for five and six yards a pop.  Arkansas State has absolutely no pass rush, affording Eagle QB Jeremy Young the time he needs to find his two favorite receivers, Torris Magee and Gerald Baptiste.
Who to watch: Southern Miss has been missing its most polished pass-receiver, TE Shawn Nelson, who hasn’t been 100% this month, catching just one ball in the last three games.  When he’s on, he’s one of the most dangerous tight ends in the country, a valuable asset to a passing game that’s been forced to lean on a bunch of untested wideouts.
What will happen: Battle-tested and capable of moving the chains, Arkansas State will be competitive on the road.  However, an inability to stop Fletcher and the Southern Miss running game will end any thoughts of an upset.
CFN Prediction: Southern Miss 31 … Arkansas State 20 ... Line: Southern Miss -14
Must See Rating: (5
The inside of your eyelids after eating two pounds of turkey  - 1 The inside of a gym with every 120 calories equaling a mile on the treadmill) ...1.5

Texas Southern (0-10) at Houston (7-4)  3:30 EST
Why to watch: Houston’s visit from FCS Texas Southern is little more than an exhibition game and a chance to pad individual stats for postseason awards.  The real drama will be happening across town at Rice Stadium, where Tulsa needs to beat Rice in order to win the West Division.  A Tulsa loss, however, sends the Cougars to the Dec. 1 title game to face either UCF or East Carolina.  Houston has been inconsistent throughout the second half, allowing head coach Art Briles to work this Saturday on the weakest areas against a markedly inferior opponent.  Texas Southern has one final chance to win a game in 2007, coming close to a victory just twice all year.  The Tigers are led on offense by Tino Edgecombe, on defense by DE Derrick Gray, a fierce pass rusher, and on the sidelines by DeChon Burns, who replaced fired head coach Steve Wilson two weeks ago.
Why Texas Southern might win: With the Tulsa game going on at the same time, Houston is going to be preoccupied by the happenings on the scoreboard.  The Tigers have far more to gain this weekend than the Cougars, who are already bowl-bound, unable to impact where they go next.  The strength of the Texas Southern offense is the passing game, which features Edgecombe and a capable set of receivers.  Houston has been awful defending the pass, allowing 27 touchdowns and picking off just 11 passes.
Why Houston might win: UTEP, Grambling, and Southern have already lit up the Texas Southern defense for more than 50 points, meaning the Cougars might get there before the end of the third quarter.  Houston is No. 8 nationally in total offense, flashing a quick-strike attack built around the jets of RB Anthony Alridge and WR Donnie Avery.  It would take 11 players of Gray’s caliber to slow down a Cougar team that’s diverse, unpredictable, and very difficult to contain.  The Tigers would need to play a perfect game to pull off the miracle, unlikely considering they’re dead last in the FCS in turnover margin.
Who to watch: On an individual basis this is a huge game for Gray, who wants to measure himself against a higher level of competition.  At 6-4 and 260 pounds, he’s got good strength and a great burst off the snap, racking up 68 tackles, 21.5 tackles for loss, and 8.5 sacks.  In El Paso, Gray had two tackles behind the line and a sack, numbers that’ll impress the scouts in attendance if he can duplicate them this weekend in Robertson Stadium.
What will happen: The Houston offense will put on a fireworks display at Texas Southern’s expense, gouging the Tigers on the ground and through the air before getting the regulars to the sidelines just after halftime.
CFN Prediction: Houston 57 … Texas Southern 7... Line: No Line
Must See Rating: (5
The inside of your eyelids after eating two pounds of turkey  - 1 The inside of a gym with every 120 calories equaling a mile on the treadmill) ...1  

UAB (2-9) at Marshall (2-9)  4:30 EST
Why to watch: At stake this Saturday in Huntington will be last place in the East Division, currently occupied by UAB.  The Blazers have been predictably inept in Neil Callaway rookie season, lacking the depth and overall talent to compete on a week-in, week-out basis.  While UAB stockpiled moral victories in September, the program has been running on fumes for over a month.  Callaway has developed a lot of young players in 2007, which will benefit the program in 2008.  The records may be the same, but the difference between Marshall and UAB is that the Herd has been playing its best ball of late.  Over the last four games, Marshall has beaten Rice and East Carolina, and hung tough with Houston.  Will it be enough to earn another season on the sidelines?  Stay tuned to see what happens in December.                   
Why UAB might win: The way Marshall turns the ball over and allows big plays on defense, it’s always vulnerable, even to a reeling Blazer team.  Facing the league’s most feeble pass rush, UAB hurlers Sam Hunt and Joseph Webb will have success downfield, finding emerging threat in the soft spots of the defense.  Webb, in particular, has provided a spark to the unit with his strong arm and ability to scramble for first downs on busted plays.                        
Why Marshall might win: The Herd has been playing as if doesn’t plan on reflecting or relaxing until the final whistle on Saturday night.  The offense has been playing better, getting contributions from QB Bernard Morris, RB Darius Marshall, and a steady cast of receivers.  Once Marshall reaches 20 points, it’ll be over for a UAB offense that’s last in the league in total offense, and struggling in opponents’ territory.  The Blazers have been held to 10 or fewer points in four of the last five weeks, which isn’t going to get it done this weekend.                             
Who to watch: If Marshall can develop a playmaking quarterback by next September, there’ll be hope for the offense in 2008.  The leading rusher, Marshall, is a true freshman with a high ceiling.  Just a sophomore, Cody Slate is fast becoming one of the better pass-catching tight ends in the country.  And Darius Passmore has emerged as the Herd’s most dangerous wide receiver in his first year out of junior college.  There’s hope, even if it hasn’t been parlayed into many wins.                            
What will happen: Marshall’s no-quit attitude is going to be rewarded with a season-ending win over a UAB squad that no longer has enough able bodies to be competitive.
CFN Prediction
: Marshall 33 … UAB 13 ... Line: Marshall -14.5
Must See Rating: (5
The inside of your eyelids after eating two pounds of turkey  - 1 The inside of a gym with every 120 calories equaling a mile on the treadmill) ...1

C-USA Fearless Predictions, Week 13, Part 1