Sept. 18, 2012
All eight games involving Conference USA teams this Saturday will be televised, including the first inter-divisional matchup when Marshall visits Rice. C-USA has two matchups against Big Ten opponents (UAB at Ohio State and UTEP at Wisconsin), two at ACC foes (East Carolina at North Carolina and Memphis at Duke) and one vs. the SEC (Ole Miss at Tulane).
Marshall enters Saturday's game topping C-USA in total offense at 550.3 yards per game, while Rice ranks fourth, averaging 412.7 yards per game. The Thundering Herd leads the nation in passing, averaging 425.0 yards per contest. Marshall sophomore QB Rakeem Cato tops the FBS in completions (114), passing yards (1,222) and total offense (1,268). Rice junior RB Charles Ross is coming off a career-high 116 yards last week and has helped the Owls post the second-best rushing offense in the league. Bernie Guenther, Chuck Oliver and Rachel Baribeau will call the action on CSS, beginning at 2:30 p.m. CDT.
Tulane returns to the gridiron with heavy hearts after losing senior safety Devon Walker to a serious neck injury two weeks ago in a 45-10 loss at Tulsa. The Green Wave will host longtime rival Ole Miss at 11 a.m. CDT, as the teams meet for the 71st time. Under first-year head coach Curtis Johnson, the Green Wave already resembles a youth movement with 19 players, including 13 true freshmen, making their college debuts over the course of Tulane's first two games, while 11 players earned a starting assignment for the first time in their careers against Rutgers and Tulsa. FSN's Ron Thulin and Desmond Purnell join Shaun King, quarterback of the 1998 unbeaten Tulane Green Wave, as he returns to the Superdome to announce the action.
At 11 a.m. CDT, two C-USA teams will venture into Big Ten territory to face ranked opponents. UTEP, led by the reigning C-USA Offensive Player of the Week in QB Nick Lamaison, plays at No. 24 Wisconsin. This game will air on ESPN2, with Beth Mowins, Joey Galloway and Lewis Johnson calling the action. UAB faces its second straight ranked foe when the Blazers battle No. 16 Ohio State. The Big Ten Network will air this contest, as Eric Collins, Derek Rackley and Lisa Byington announce from Columbus.
East Carolina and Memphis will play non-conference games just eight miles from each other late Saturday afternoon, as the Pirates play at North Carolina and the Tigers square off at Duke. For ECU, sophomore QB Shane Carden looks to build on a strong second half performance at Southern Miss last week. Memphis hopes that sophomore WR Keiwone Malone can make it three games in a row with new career-highs in receptions and yards. ESPNU will show the ECU-UNC matchup at 3:30 p.m. EDT, with Anish Shroff and Dan Hawkins in the booth. ESPN3 will carry the first Memphis-Duke football meeting, as Ryan Rose and Doug Chapman describe the action in Durham.
Southern Miss seeks to get back on track at Western Kentucky at 6 p.m. CDT. Junior RB Kendrick Hardy returned to action last week for the first time since injuring his shoulder early last season and could give the Golden Eagles offense a spark. Hardy rushed for nearly 1,000 yards in just 10 games during the 2010 season. Western Kentucky is coming of its best win since moving up to the FBS level, a dramatic, 32-31 overtime win at SEC foe Kentucky. This game will be available on ESPN3, with Dave Weekley and Corey Chavous set to announce.
On Saturday night, former conference rivals Fresno State and Tulsa meet for the first time since the 2005 AutoZone Liberty Bowl, when Tulsa wrapped up its first season as a member of Conference USA with QB Paul Smith leading the Golden Hurricane to a 31-24 win over the Bulldogs. Both teams are coming off offensive explosions last Saturday. Fresno State scored 55 first half points in a 69-14 win over Colorado. Tulsa rolled to a 46-9 halftime lead en route to a 66-16 victory over Nicholls State. This game will air on CBS Sports Network at 7 p.m. CDT, with James Bates, Aaron Taylor and Lauren Gardner calling the action.