Conference USA started off with an ugly weekend, with no wins over a FBS team except for East Carolina’s defense-free win over Tulsa to open the conference season. No Sunday games this week, just tonight’s pair and then seven more tomorrow. The league gets two more conference games and a handful of winnable non-conference games.
12:00 PM, CSS- Memphis at East Carolina: East Carolina should be the superior team here, giving them the chance to be 2-0 in the league before any of their competition even faces a league team. But if Memphis doesn’t put up some points here, even in defeat, then we know they’re in for a miserable season. Line: East Carolina by 13.5. ECU should run up and down the field against Memphis, but can they make two stops to win by 14? I’ll say yes. ECU 42-28.
7:00 PM- Prairie View A&M at Southern Mississippi: Southern Miss needs this one to recover from the nationally televised beatdown at the hands of South Carolina. No line.
7:00 PM- Rice at North Texas: Rice put up a fight in their loss to the Longhorns last week, and North Texas did keep Clemson to 35, so…I have no idea. I’m inclined to think Rice does have more talent, but they’re not so much better that North Texas can’t pull an upset on its home field. Line: North Texas by 2.5. I don’t check the line until I get to this point in each blurb, and I’m a bit floored that the Mean Green is favored over anybody. So I guess picking Rice is the upset call, but I think they win on the order of 24-17.
7:00 PM- Bowling Green at Tulsa: These two gave up a combined 81 points last weekend, both to teams with a lot of new personnel in Troy and ECU, respectively. Thus, I think the team that discovers how to play defense should win this one, but otherwise I’m not sure Bowling Green has the firepower to match Tulsa score-for-score. Line: Tulsa by 17. That’s a lot of points for a team that can’t stop anyone. I think it’s closer, Tulsa 45-35.
7:30 PM, CBS College- North Carolina State at UCF: Both teams won big over FCS opponents last week, UCF using a pounding running attack and NC State getting it done through the air. This is a critical game for UCF- a win here and they can add some national credibility to their program and the league. But (homer break) having been in the stands, feeling the same way at kickoff, when Pitt mopped the floor with UCF in 2006. So who knows. Line: UCF by 2.5. Do not like. I’m too close to it, and can see way too many options playing out. But the one I feel the best about has UCF getting out to a fast lead, then hanging on for the rest of the day- that’s exactly how it went when UCF beat NC State on their turf in 2007. I’m going to say UCF wins 24-20, barely covering that 2.5.
8:00 PM- UAB at SMU: Both teams fell to 0-1 last week, but SMU nearly beat Texas Tech, while UAB was caught late by Florida Atlantic at home. UAB has a history of being very up and down in the early season, but SMU should be ready for them tomorrow. Line: SMU by 11.5. That’s a weird number and I don’t care for it. I think UAB can put up enough points to keep this game to more like 10 or 11. SMU 35-24.
9:00 PM, ESPN Classic- Ole Miss at Tulane: Before last week, I had this penciled in as another blowout, but then Ole Miss had to go out and lose to Jacksonville State and make a mess of the whole thing. Tulane’s not very good, but Ole Miss is apparently vulnerable. Line: Ole Miss by 20. Way too many for a team with last week’s performance. Yes, they’ll probably be more focused and fix some of their mistakes, but I think Tulane can certainly keep it under that 20. I’ll say 27-14.