Oct. 16, 2012
Conference USA play begins Thursday night in Dallas, when SMU hosts Houston (7 p.m. CDT on FSN). The Cougars have won three in a row this season and will put their six-game series winning streak on the line in Dallas. The game features a matchup of two of the top running backs in Conference USA. Houston junior Charles Sims leads C-USA and ranks eighth nationally, averaging 128.6 yards per game. SMU senior Zach Line has run for more than 1,000 yards each of the last two seasons and is second in the league this year, averaging 100.7 yards per game. Ron Thulin, Dave Lapham and Desmond Purnell will call the action at Gerald J. Ford Stadium.
Saturday, Tulsa hosts Rice at 2:30 p.m. CDT on FSN. The Golden Hurricane enters the game on a six-game winning streak and is 4-0 in Conference USA action for the fourth time in its eight years as a league member. Tulsa has rushed for 1,755 yards this year, a 250.7 average per game to rank 10th nationally in rushing offense. The Hurricane has three running backs who have gained more than 400 yards this season -- Ja'Terian Douglas leads the way with 533 yards, followed by Trey Watts with 507 and Alex Singleton with 432 yards and 13 rushing touchdowns. Rice junior RB Charles Ross carried 16 times for a career-high 117 yards in last week's win over UTSA, his second 100-yard game this season. With 301 yards on the ground as a team, Rice topped the 300-yard mark for the second time this season. Mike Morgan, JC Pearson and Laura McKeeman are set to announce.
East Carolina is on the road for the fifth time this season when it visits UAB at 6 p.m. CDT Saturday night. Pirates sophomore QB Shane Carden was named C-USA Offensive Player of the Week on Monday after throwing five touchdowns in last week's 41-7 win over Memphis. He has directly accounted for 13 of ECU's 14 offensive TDs this season with nine passing touchdowns and four rushing scores. UAB senior LB Marvin Burdette registered the highest individual tackle total in Conference USA this season as he was in on 17 stops at Houston last Saturday. Burdette, who ranks No. 3 in C-USA and is No. 11 nationally this week in tackles, is now No. 3 on the Blazers' all-time tackles list with 312 stops. Steve Physioc, Ben Leber and Lesley McCaslin will be on hand to broadcast on Fox College Sports.
After having last week off, Marshall returns to action at Southern Miss Saturday at 6 p.m. CDT. Despite not playing last week, Marshall sophomore QB Rakeem Cato moved back into first place in passing offense for the fourth time in six weeks with an average of 385.2 yards per game. He throws to one of the most productive receiving duos in the FBS, as senior WR Aaron Dobson (42 for 483) and sophomore WR Tommy Shuler (58 for 562) have combined for 100 receptions for 1,045 yards on the season. Southern Miss senior DL Jamie Collins added two more sacks for 14 yards at UCF last week to increase his team lead to five on the season. Collins has 48 total tackles and 10 tackles for loss (fourth in C-USA) on the year. Dave Ryan, Steve Beuerlein and Evan Washburn will be at M.M. Roberts Stadium to announce for CBS Sports Network.
UCF and Memphis will meet at 7 p.m. CDT Saturday on CSS. Knights sophomore QB Blake Bortles has not thrown an interception in his last 121 attempts dating back to the second quarter vs. FIU Sept. 15 (he threw three picks in 110 attempts for the entire 2011 season). Bortles will be going against a Memphis defense that has forced 12 turnovers on the season and is coming off a six sack performance at East Carolina. Matt Stewart, Chuck Oliver and Rachel Baribeau are set to call the action.
Tulane will head to UTEP fresh off an exciting win over SMU. Senior QB Ryan Griffin returned to action from a shoulder injury and led Tulane to its best offensive output of 2012, throwing for 302 yards and three touchdowns. His final TD pass was a 16-yarder to sophomore RB Rob Kelley with 35 seconds remaining that proved to be the game-winner. UTEP sophomore WR Jordan Leslie reeled in 10 catches for a career-high 218 yards in last week's loss at Tulsa, making him only the sixth UTEP player to compile 200 receiving yards in a game. The 218 yards is the eighth-highest total in the FBS this season.