Oct. 30, 2012
East Carolina hosts Houston on Saturday (Noon EDT on FSN) in a key game for both team's postseason bowl hopes. Since the league realigned in 2005, the Cougars and Pirates rank second and third, respectively, behind Tulsa in winning percentage in league play. Junior RB Vintavious Cooper has led East Carolina in rushing the last eight contests, and in the last five games, he has averaged 119.6 ground yards per outing. Cooper's back-to-back triple-digit rushing efforts (UAB/Navy) were the first by a Pirate since Chris Johnson in 2007. Cooper (751 yards) currently accounts for nearly 70 percent (69.3) of the Pirates' overall rushing yardage in 2012. Houston senior LB Phillip Steward continues his outstanding season. He leads the league in tackles for loss (14) and forced fumbles (4), is tied for the lead in sacks (8) and is tied for second in total tackles (84). Ron Thulin, Dave Lapham and Desmond Purnell will call the action at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
Red-hot Tulsa, winners of seven straight, returns from its bye week to make the short trip east to face SEC member Arkansas (11:20 a.m. CDT on the SEC Network). The Golden Hurricane has three players that rank in the top 10 in C-USA in rushing. Junior Ja'Terian Douglas is third (87.8 per game), junior Trey Watts is fifth (72.4 per game) and senior Alex Singleton is 10th (61.9). Douglas has four plays from scrimmage this season that has gone for 60 yards or longer, tying him with Utah State's Kerwynn Williams for the most among all FBS players in that category. Twice this season, Singleton has run for three touchdowns in a game and six times he has had multiple scores. With 16 rushing touchdowns on the season, he is tied for fourth in the FBS lead in rushing TDs. Dave Neal, Andre Ware and Cara Capuano are set to announce from Fayetteville.
In a rematch of the 2010 C-USA Championship Game, SMU travels to Orlando to tackle C-USA East-leading UCF (7 p.m. EDT on CBS Sports Network). The Knights won that 2010 title game, 17-7, while the Mustangs won last year's regular season meeting in Dallas, 38-17. SMU senior QB Garrett Gilbert enters the game on the heels of back-to-back record-setting performances. Gilbert set a new career-high with four TD throws in SMU's 72-42 win over Houston on Oct. 18, and passed for a career-high 353 passing yards and tied a career-high with two rushing TDs as SMU thrashed Memphis, 44-13 last Saturday. UCF senior RB Latavius Murray had three rushing touchdowns at Marshall last week and also had a receiving score, marking his first-career game with four overall TDs. Murray has produced back-to-back 100-yard rushing games for the first time. He also has a streak of 282-consecutive carries without losing a fumble (Memphis in 2008), and has not fumbled at all in 149 carries (FIU in 2011). Dave Ryan, Corey Chavous and Evan Washburn will be on the call.
UAB will be seeking its fourth consecutive victory over Southern Miss when the two teams meet Saturday night in Hattiesburg (6:30 p.m. CDT on CSS). Blazers senior LB Marvin Burdette is leading the FBS in tackles (104) after his record-breaking performance in last Saturday's game against Tulane. He registered 24 tackles against the Green Wave and increased his season average to 13.0 stops per game. Burdette's 24 tackles set a UAB single-game record and represented the second-highest total in a game this season by any player in the FBS. Golden Eagles senior DE Jamie Collins tallied his third double-digit tackle performance of 2012 with 12 stops last week at Rice to go along with one sack, two TFLs and his first forced fumble of the season. Mike Morgan and Chuck Oliver will be in the booth and Rachel Baribeau on the sideline at M.M. Roberts Stadium.
Rounding out the action is Memphis at Marshall (2 p.m. EDT) and Rice at Tulane (2:30 p.m. CDT). Marshall sophomore WR Tommy Shuler leads all FBS players with 77 receptions on the season, while Memphis sophomore DE Martin Ifedi has registered seven sacks over his last four games. Rice enters the game at the Superdome ranked second in Conference USA in rushing, averaging 203.6 yards per game on the ground. Tulane junior WR Ryan Grant has posted four 100-yard receiving games this season, including a career-high 184 last week.