Oct. 2, 2012
The action begins Thursday this week in Conference USA when East Carolina visits UCF in a key East Division contest (8 p.m. EDT on CBS Sports Network). The game represents a matchup between teams that have won four of the last five Conference USA Championships. UCF took the league title in 2007 and 2010 and East Carolina won back-to-back crowns in 2008 and 2009. The teams enter with the top two scoring defenses in C-USA this season. The Knights lead the league at 21.5, while the Pirates are second at 24.0. Dave Ryan, Doug Chapman and Evan Washburn are set to announce the action from Bright House Networks Stadium.
The top two scoring offenses in Conference USA meet in Huntington, W. Va. on Saturday when Tulsa visits Marshall (3:30 p.m. EDT on CBS Sports Network. Tulsa averages a league-best 42.0 points per game, while Marshall is averaging 41.0 per game. The Thundering Herd is first in the league total offense (555.6 yards per game), first in passing offense (394.6 per game) and fourth in rushing offense (161.0 per game). Meanwhile, the Golden Hurricane is third in total offense (481.4 per game), first in rushing offense (244.8 per game) and seventh in passing offense (236.6 per game). Tulsa also leads the league in rushing defense (104.6) and total defense (338.0). Brad Johansen, Doug Chapman and Tammy Blackburn will be announcing.
Southern Miss welcomes a nationally ranked opponent to Hattiesburg, Miss. for a second straight week when No. 25 Boise State visits for an 11 a.m. CDT kickoff Saturday. The Golden Eagles four non-conference opponents (Nebraska, Western Kentucky, Louisville, Boise State) have a combined record of 15-4 on the season. The Broncos have not lost a game in the month of October since 2001 - a streak of 44 consecutive victories. Southern Miss ran for a season-high 284 yards last week against No. 17 Louisville, with senior RB Desmond Johnson leading the way with a season-high 99 yards. Joel Meyers, Brian Baldinger and Jim Knox will be on hand to call this one for FSN.
Memphis will open its conference season when it hosts Rice Saturday evening (6 p.m. CDT on Fox College Sports). Rice junior QB Taylor McHargue is expected to be back after missing last week's loss to Houston with a shoulder injury. In his last outing, he totaled 467 yards of offense in a 54-51 double-overtime loss to Marshall. After forcing 20 turnovers last season to rank 16th in the FBS, Memphis has forced nine miscues in four games this season (second in C-USA). Steve Physioc, Ben Leber and Lesley McCaslin will be announcing this cross-divisional contest.
West Division foes SMU and UTEP will meet in El Paso Saturday night at 6 p.m. MDT. The game features a matchup of two of the top running backs in Conference USA. Mustangs senior Zach Line has led the league in rushing the last two seasons and is ranked third so far this season, averaging 85.8 yards per game. Despite missing nearly two full games due to a groin injury, Miners sophomore RB Nathan Jeffery places fourth in rushing at 80.0 yards per contest. Time Warner Texas will televise this game in the Lone Star State, with Pete Stein, Neal Raphael and Crystal Dominguez announcing.
Future Conference USA member North Texas will play at Houston Saturday night in a game that will be televised regionally by CSS and CSN Houston. North Texas has forced at least one turnover in every game this season and enters the matchup with Houston at plus-six in turnover margin, which is 23rd in the nation. After rushing for 158 yards and three touchdowns in last week's win at Rice, Houston junior RB Charles Sims has taken over the C-USA lead in rushing, averaging an even 100.0 yards per game with five TDs. Houston is 4-0 when Sims runs for 100 yards in a game. Dave Raymond, ND Kalu and Leila Rahimi will be calling the action from Robertson Stadium, beginning at 6 p.m. CDT.
Rounding out the action is Tulane visiting Louisiana-Lafayette (4 p.m. CDT on ESPN3 and CST Louisiana) and Southeastern Louisiana playing at UAB (2 p.m. CDT).