Inside Marshall Sports

Conference USA notebook

Before going into this, keep in mind the Alcorn State-Florida International game, such as it is, is being played/was played Friday night in Birmingham. Kudos to UAB for putting up FIU’s athletic teams on short notice.

In the cruelest of coincidences, FIU opens its Conference USA season Sept. 23 with … Rice.

Here’s your weekend, in order of (my) interest, with picks against the point spread:

MISSISSIPPI STATE (1-0) at LOUISIANA TECH (1-0), 7 p.m.

TV: CBS Sports Network

Don’t look now, but Skip Holtz’s Bulldogs are 15-1 in their last 16 games, and they have one of their biggest games ever in Joe Aillet Stadium. MSU came to Ruston in 2008, and the then-WAC member Tech won 22-24.

Tech survived a scare from Northwestern State, with two turnovers allowing the FCS school to tie the game at 24 early in the fourth quarter. But with QB J’Mar Smith leading the way, Tech scored the next four TDs to win 52-24.

Smith went 18 of 35 for 276 yards and rushed for 72 more. He find things a little tougher this time around.

Line: Mississippi State by 9.5. MISSISSIPPI STATE.

WESTERN KENTUCKY (1-0) at ILLINOIS (1-0), 8 p.m.

TV: Big Ten Network

I’m not getting worked up about the Hilltoppers beating Eastern Kentucky by just 31-17. Looks like the Tops took a 17-0 lead and got complacent, while the Colonels pounded some Red Bull at halftime. It happens.

The Fighting Illini are 24-4 in August/September home games since 2007.  Actually, that’s lousy for a Big Ten program.

Line: WKU by 7. WKU.

TEXAS-SAN ANTONIO (0-0) at BAYLOR (0-1), 8 p.m.

Television: Fox Sports Networks

This is the Roadrunners’ season opener after their game against Houston was washed out by Harvey. This ultimately will do UTSA in, I am afraid.

Interesting note: Former Arizona QB Anu Solomon, who beat UTSA in two tough games, now starts for Baylor.

Line: Baylor by 16.5. BAYLOR.

MIDDLE TENNESSEE (0-1) at SYRACUSE (1-0), 3:30 p.m.

TV: ACC Network/ESPN3

If I must. The Blue Raiders came up smaller than small last week in a 28-6 loss to Vanderbilt. Brent Stockstill and Co. ended its first two possessions with an interception and a turnover on downs on the Vandy side of the field, and things went downhill form there.

Stockstill hit the deck five times, so there’s improvement needed on the pass-blocking front. I’m not sold on anybody who plays Central Connecticut State, though, and I’m going in on the Blue Raiders again.

I guess.

Line: Syracuse by 10. MTSU.

ALABAMA-BIRMINGHAM (1-0) at BALL STATE (0-1), 3 p.m.

TV: ESPN3

This game gets the “yuck” tag any other year, but you want to see just where the Blazers are against one of the MAC’s doormats. I’m countin’ on ya, Blazers.

Line: Ball State by 14. UAB.

OLD DOMINION (1-0) at MASSACHUSETTS (0-2), 3:30 p.m.

TV: none

This game gets the “yuck” tag any other year, but you want to see just where the Blazers are against one of the MAC’s doormats. I’m countin’ on ya, Blazers.

I want to see where the younger Monarchs are against a team that just loss to Coastal Carolina (hail to Mickey Matthews). Ray Lawry has 39 career rushing TDs, and will pick up a few more.

Line: ODU by 4. ODU.

NORTH TEXAS (1-0) at SOUTHERN METHODIST (1-0), 7 p.m.

TV: ESPN3

Ah, the Metroplex battle between the free-spending private school and the large-enrollment state school. The Mean Green racked up a school-record 668 total yards last week, which could only mean it played Lamar.

SMU roughed up Stephen F. Austin, so this is a de facto opener.

Line: SMU by 13.5. SMU.

RICE (0-1) at TEXAS-EL PASO (0-1), 8 p.m.

TV: CUSA TV

Coming off an open week, the Owls made it back to campus and what they discovered wasn’t pretty — 12 players lost everything, 26 vehicles were flooded.

The Owls are road-tripping to Australia, but this is 750 miles in that direction. UTEP has a brawny offensive line, if nothing else.

LINE: UTEP by 1.5. UTEP.

FLORIDA ATLANTIC (0-1) at WISCONSIN (1-0), noon

TV: Big Ten Network

If you’re going to evacuate from Irma, I recommend Madison, Wisconsin. The Owls are going to need some cheese and brews after this one.

Line: Wisconsin by 32. WISCONSIN.

CHARLOTTE (0-1) at (19) KANSAS STATE (1-0), noon

TV: Fox Sports Networks

No. 2 evacuation destination: Manhattan, Kansas. Aggieville is a pretty neat place.

Line: Kansas State by 35. KANSAS STATE.

FBS on FCS crime:

SOUTHERN (1-0) at SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI (0-1), 7 p.m.


TV: Stadium on Facebook

Last week: 5-2

Season: 5-2