Hello, Herd fans!
Conference USA may have had a dreadful September, but it’s having the most fun October. Every team not named UTEP and Rice is leading the West; don’t even look at who’s atop the East.
Mark my words: One or both divisions will be won by a team 6-2 or maybe even 5-3.
With that, here is the week that was, and the week that will be.
Western Kentucky 44, Middle Tennessee 43 (2 OT): OK, so this is the best game of the year, supplanting, WKU’s loss to Louisiana Tech the week before. Mike White threw for 391 yards and 2 TDs, and Deon Yelder blocked an extra point in the second overtime to set up the Hilltoppers’ win.
Skyler Simcox, perhaps the answer to WKU’s placekicking quandary, was named the Special Teams Player of the Week after his 14-point game. He hit a 52-yarder at the end of the first half.
Florida International 27, Charlotte 26: Go look it up — the Panthers lead the East Division by a half-game over Old Dominion, as Alex McGough threw a 9-yard TD to Jonnu Smith with 1:05 left.
The Panthers may still finish 3-5 in the league for all we know, but McGough is rounding into form and TE Smith was always, always for real. The problem with this team always will be run-blocking — there’s no way Alex Gardner should be held to 29 yards on 12 carries.
LB Anthony Wint is having a nice year. After tying his career high of 13 tackles, he was named C-USA’s Defensive Player of the Week for the 2nd time in 3 weeks.
Louisiana Tech 56, Massachusetts 28: I’d watch the replay to see Carlos Henderson catch 12 balls for 326 yards and 5 TDs. The Bulldogs’ yardage record is 405 yards by the great Troy Edwards.
Henderson was named the Walter Camp National Player of the Week. He has 558 yards and 8 TDs the last two weeks, and he is combining with teammate Trent Taylor for 1,871 yards and 18 TDs.
Marshall is fortunate to not have those guys on the schedule.
Hold your nose
Texas-San Antonio 14, Rice 13: After smashing Southern Mississippi, the Roadrunners were due for a letdown. The Owls lose on an extra points, summing up the first half of their 0-6 season.
Louisiana State 45, Southern Miss 10: Losing to a bigger-name SEC foe is not the end of the world, but you can’t shake the though that the Eagles were a tad overblown and their defense will betray them. Nick Mullens went 25 of 36, but for only 161 yards.
Marshall 27, Florida Atlantic 21: Had to put this game, no matter how important it was to the Herd, here. Outside analysts couldn’t help but notice the 2-9 combined record.
C-USA best results vs. P-5
Southern Miss 44, Kentucky 35
Arkansas 21, Louisiana Tech 20 (Tech had ball with lead in 4th quarter)
Arizona 32, UTSA 28 (Roadrunners led in 4th quarter)
Vanderbilt 31, Western Kentucky 30 (WKU went for 2 and the win)
Note: Marshall cut Pittsburgh’s lead to 3 points in the 4th quarter, but never got the ball back with a chance to tie or go ahead. Therefore, that game is not listed here.
Overall vs P-5: 1-18
This week’s offerings, in order of interest (MU-Charlotte not included):
Old Dominion (4-2, 2-0) at WKU (4-3, 2-1), 1 p.m. (ASN): ODU is entrant No. 1 in the “Are They For Real?” sweepstakes. Jeremy Cox and Ray Lawry are combining for 168.6 yards per game.
For WKU, Anthony Wales rushed for 158 yards against MTSU, and has 2 such 150+ games.
Line: WKU by 13.5. TAKE ODU, WHICH IS SEMI-FOR-REAL
Louisiana Tech (4-3, 2-1) at FIU (3-4, 3-0), 7 p.m. (ESPN3): Panthers are No. 2 in the “Are They For Real?” derby. Their home stretch is Tech, MTSU, WKU, open date, Marshall and ODU.
If FIU somehow survives that and contends for the East title, I offer this: My beloved Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup after sacking their coach — and they also did so in 2009. That, and you can do worse than Ron Cooper as your interim coach.
Line: La Tech by 16.5. FIU IS NOT FOR REAL; TAKE THE DAWGS.
North Texas (3-3, 2-1) at Army, noon (CBS Sports Network): The Mean Green is No. 3 in the “Are They for Real?” derby. The Black Knights have worn out Texas-El Paso and Rice, but then again, so have everybody else.
The Mean Green has raised its scoring average from 15.2 per game to 25.8, and has reduced the defensive scoring from 41.2 to 28.7.
Line: Army by 18.5. TAKE RUN-LOVING ARMY AND THE POINTS.
Middle Tennessee (4-2, 2-1) at Missouri, 4 p.m. (SEC Network): The Tigers are 0-3 in the SEC, losing the last 2 by a combined 82-21. The Blue Raiders are too good to be an SEC homecoming opponent, and could inflict embarrassment.
Brent Stockstill was 42 of 54 for 434 yards, his 9th 300-yard game in his last 12.
Line: Missouri by 6.5. TIGERS WILL SNEAK OUT THE COVER.
UTEP (1-5, 0-3) at UTSA (3-3, 2-1), 7 p.m.: Nifty facts about the Roadrunners — Josh Stewart is averaging a national-best 27.1 yards per catch, and UTSA has scored 30 points after opponents’ special-teams mistakes.
Line: UTSA by 9.5. ROADRUNNERS MIGHT NOT BE FOR REAL, TAKE THE MINERS.
FCS parade: Prairie View at Rice (0-6, 0-4). America’s most unappetizing game of the week.
Last week vs. line: 4-2 (including MU game). Season: 24-28.