Nov. 13, 2012
A showdown of the two unbeaten teams in Conference USA will take place this Saturday when UCF visits Tulsa (11 a.m. CST on FSN). Both teams will enter the game at 6-0 in league play, marking the latest in the season that the two division leaders have faced each other and the latest that two division leaders have met without a conference loss. A UCF victory will allow the Knights to clinch the East Division title and host the C-USA Championship Game Saturday, Dec. 1. A Tulsa victory will secure the West Division crown for the Golden Hurricane and will guarantee them hosting the championship game if East Carolina loses at Tulane Saturday. Last Saturday's 41-7 win at Houston was Tulsa's 18th victory in its last 19 Conference USA games. That is the second-best run with just one defeat in C-USA history, as Southern Miss won 20 of 21 league games from Oct. 4, 1997 to Nov. 4, 2000. UCF will enter the game leading Conference USA in passing defense (191.6) and passing efficiency defense (110.7). The Knights have held six of their 10 opponents to 165 yards or fewer through the air, including a season-low 79 at UTEP last week. The stingy pass defense has helped UCF claim its familiar spot as the top-ranked total defense in Conference USA for the fifth consecutive season. Mike Gleason, Dave Lapham and Desmond Purnell will be on the call.
Two teams that need a victory to stay in bowl contention meet in Huntington, W. Va., when Houston visits Marshall (11 a.m. CST on CSS). The winner will keep postseason hopes alive going into the final week of the regular season, while the loser will be eliminated from bowl contention. The game should feature an offensive show as the teams own Conference USA's top offensive averages. Houston is second in the league with 473.4 offensive yards per game while Marshall owns the league's top mark at 511.3 yards per game, a number that ranks eighth nationally. A duel between Cougars sophomore QB David Piland and Thundering Herd sophomore QB Rakeem Cato, the two most productive signal-callers in C-USA all season long, highlights this matchup. Matt Stewart and Chuck Oliver will be in the booth and Rachel Baribeau on the sideline.
SMU and Rice square off with bowl eligibility a key storyline in the contest (2:30 p.m. CST on CSS/CSN). The Mustangs need a win to go to a bowl for the fourth year in a row, the first time in school history they could accomplish that feat. Rice, which has won its last nine November home games, needs a win in this one and at UTEP next week to return to postseason play for the first time since 2008. This is the most played series in Conference USA, as the teams will be meeting for the 90th time. Dave Raymond, ND Kalu and Leila Rahimi are set to call the action.
East Carolina is bowl-eligible for the sixth time in the past seven seasons as the Pirates head to Tulane looking to post their seventh win of the season (2:30 p.m. CST on Cox Sports Television and WITN). In the last three games, ECU junior RB Vintavious Cooper is running for 144.3 yards per outing with four touchdowns. His three straight plus 100 yard rushing games is the first for an ECU back since Marvin Townes did the feat in 2003. Tulane junior K Cairo Santos, a Lou Groza Award semifinalist, is a perfect 17-of-17 on field goal attempts this year with an 11-of-11 clip from 40-plus yards and a 2-of-2 effort from beyond 50.
UAB will be seeking its third win in a row this season and its fourth straight victory over Memphis when the Tigers visit Legion Field (1 p.m. CST on the C-USA Digital Network). In his last four games, UAB sophomore RB Darrin Reaves is averaging 160.5 yards per game with nine touchdowns. Memphis junior RB Jai Steeb has given the Tiger offense some punch lately, scoring three TDs the last two weeks.
UTEP will travel to Southern Miss for a 7 p.m. CST kickoff on CBS Sports Network. Miners sophomore RB Nathan Jeffery registered his second straight 100-yard game (fourth of the season) with 175 rushing yards on 22 carries against UCF last week. He also ran for two scores, his second straight multiple-TD game. Golden Eagles senior DE Jamie Collins is having a stellar season, tying for the C-USA lead in sacks (9), leading the league in tackles for loss (18) and ranking second in forced fumbles (4). James Bates, Aaron Taylor and Lauren Gardner will call the action at M.M. Roberts Stadium.