We are still careening toward a Florida Atlantic-North Texas rematch in the Conference USA championship game, but pump your brakes on the Lane Kiffin worship. That’s all I’m saying.
The schedule, in (my) order of interest:
FLORIDA ATLANTIC (6-3, 5-0) at LOUISIANA TECH (4-5, 2-3), 3:30 pm.
Let’s go over La Tech’s hard-luck season: The Bulldogs had a field goal blocked by UAB, squandered a late lead and lost in overtime to Southern Miss, and gave up the winning TD with 6:04 left against North Texas (I know, Jonathan Barnes missed a late field goal, but it was 53 yards). Early in the season, the Bulldogs lost to South Carolina on last-minute Hail Mary and field goal.
In other words, this could have been a battle of division leaders and perhaps a preview of the C-USA championship.
On paper, Devin Singletary should run for 300,000 yards and the Owls should pick off J’Mar Smith a few times. But this game will test the Owls’ focus — they’ve got a huge game with rival Florida International, but that happens next week.
If you want to call this a “trap” game, you can, but I see a desperate and still-capable La Tech team fighting for its bowl life. That fight will be exhibited here.
LINE: FAU by 5.5 LA TECH
ALABAMA-BIRMINGHAM (6-3, 4-2) at TEXAS-SAN ANTONIO (5-3, 2-3)
TV: Local markets, both cities
The Roadrunners, who host Marshall on Nov. 18, have three shots to land in a bowl, and none are gimmes. And nothing is a gimme against the upstart Blazers.
Getting skunked for 46 minutes against FIU doesn’t inspire confidence, as the grumpier faction of Herd fans can attest. Before the Roadrunners’ only scoring drive, which began in the third quarter and finished a minute into the fourth, they gained only 109 total yards.
UAB is the real deal, and it’s starting to drop hammers on people. The 52-21 beatdown of Rice wasn’t necessarily impressive, but the 30-12 win over Southern Mississippi two weeks ago was. Spencer Brown has passed the 1,000-yard mark rushing, A.J. Erdley is the third-most efficient QB and the Blazers have caught the imagination of their city. Who am I to get in the way?
LINE: UTSA by 8. UAB, PROBABLY OUTRIGHT
OLD DOMINION (3-6, 1-4) at FIU (6-2, 4-1)
TV: CUSA TV
Would you laugh if I told you ODU dominated in a 6-0 win over Charlotte? It’s almost true — the 49ers missed a field goal and did little else. But it’s time for the Panthers to put the Monarchs out of their bowl-eligibility misery.
LINE: FIU by 9.5 FIU
MIDDLE TENNESSEE (4-5, 2-3) at CHARLOTTE (1-8, 1-4)
If the Blue Raiders win this one and beat Old Dominion in the finale, it won’t matter that much what they do in the middle against Western Kentucky — they’re going bowling. It was good to see Brent Stockstill back last week, even if he struggled to go 13 of 30 against Texas-El Paso.
LINE: MTSU by 13. MTSU
UTEP (0-9, 0-5) at NORTH TEXAS (6-3, 5-1)
Miners’ “roadblocks” to an 0-12 season: North Texas, La Tech and UAB. Good luck.
LINE: North Texas by 22.5 NORTH TEXAS
Last week: 3-4
East: Marshall, FAU 5-0, FIU 4-1, Marshall, WKU 3-2, MTSU 2-3, ODU, Charlotte 1-4.
West: North Texas 5-1, UAB 4-2, Southern Miss 3-2, UTSA, Louisiana Tech 2-3, Rice 1-4, UTEP 0-5.
Bowl eligible: Marshall (6-2), FAU (6-3), FIU (6-2), North Texas (6-3), UAB (6-3). On verge: Southern Miss (5-4), UTSA (5-3), WKU (5-4).
Eliminated: UTEP, Charlotte, Rice. On verge: Old Dominion (3-6).
Rushing yards: Devin Singletary, FAU, 1,256; Spencer Brown, UAB, 1,049; Jeffery Wilson, NT, 999. (Marshall: Tyler King 5th, 560.)
Passing yards: Mike White, WKU, 2,652; Mason Fine, NT, 2,591; Chase Litton, Marshall, 2,166.
Pass efficiency: Dalton Sturm, UTSA (134206–2, 1,668 yds, 14 TDs, rating 153.5); Mason Fine, NT (200-316-9, 2,591 yds, 18 TDs, rating 145.3); A.J. Erdley, UAB (144-236-2, 1,692 yds, 12 TDs, rating 136.3). (Marshall: Chase Litton 6th, 130.8.)
Receptions: Teddy Veal, La Tech, 56; Tyre Brady, Marshall, 55; Korey Robinson, Southern Miss, 51. (Other Marshall: Marcel Williams, 10th, 40; Ryan Yurachek, 11th, 35.)
Receiving yards: Thomas Owens, FIU, 800; Tyre Brady, Marshall, 776; Jalen Guyton, NT, 729. (Other Marshall: Marcel Williams 10th, 496; Ryan Yurachek 20th, 329.)
Team total offense: North Texas 476.7, FAU 468.0, Southern Miss 420.9. (Marshall 8th, 388.0)
Team total defense: Southern Miss 318.0, Marshall 328.7, UTSA 329.4.
Scoring offense: FAU 38.4, North Texas 35.9, UAB 32.9. (Marshall 5th, 28.0)
Scoring defense: Marshall 19.0, Southern Miss 21.6, UTSA 21.9.