Two rivalry games that matter, one other game of interest and some real dogs here in late November. The schedule, in (my) order of interest:
FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL (6-3, 4-2) at FLORIDA ATLANTIC (7-3, 6-0), 7 p.m.
Cue the John Facenda voiceover, for we have Shula Bowl 17 — and it matters! Well, not nearly as much as it would had FIU not booted one last week against Old Dominion. Even if FIU wins, FAU gets a tap-in putt at Charlotte to win the East title and host the championship against North Texas.
One of the craziest notes about FAU: Devin “Motor” Singletary has scored 22 rushing touchdowns, and could pass what Alfred Morris did in *four* years.
I thought the Owls would have trouble against a desperate Louisiana Tech team. I thought wrong, as the Owls went wire-to-wire and rendered moot a 512-415 total yardage. The final was 48-23.
It might be close to that in this game, but I have confidence that FIU will play better this week. (Did Facenda really pass away in 1984? Wow.)
LINE: FAU by 14.5. FIU TO COVER.
MIDDLE TENNESSEE (5-5, 3-3) at WESTERN KENTUCKY (5-5, 3-3), 8 p.m.
TV: CBS Sports Network
We have a winner-take-bowl contest in the “100 Miles of Hate” series. This is the most-played rivalry in C-USA, taking the field for the 67th time and in three different conferences (Ohio Valley, Sun Belt).
MTSU owns a 34-31-1 edge, but WKU has won the last two, including a 44-43 double-overtime thriller in 2016. Three of the last five meetings have gone to OT, and five of the last six have been decided by less than a touchdown.
For the Blue Raiders, Brent Stockstill has returned hot, throwing for three TDs in each of the last two weeks, both wins. He has become the school’s all-time leading passer with 8,159 yards, accomplished in just 28 games.
WKU’s Mike White has thrown for 300 yards the last five games, though his 334-yard effort at Marshall was nullified by an impotent running game.
LINE: MTSU by 3. MTSU
ARMY (8-2) at NORTH TEXAS (7-3), 6:30 p.m.
TV: beIN Sports
I don’t know how many times NT has been projected to play Army in the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, but this game is the reason it won’t happen.
It won’t, right? It happened last year, as the teams played in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. So these teams are facing off for the third time in 13 months, with the teams splitting last year. So what gives?
Probably the Mean Green’s defense. Army has won six straight for the first time since 1996, and look for that to get stretched.
LINE: North Texas by 2.5. ARMY, LIKELY OUTRIGHT.
ALABAMA-BIRMINGHAM (7-3) at FLORIDA (3-6), 4 p.m.
TV: SEC Network
Ohhhhh, Blazers. I give you guys so much love, but you just have to be a late-November SEC homecoming queen. How could you?
Yes, I know, Florida is lousy and the coach already has been fired. It would be fun to see the Blazers take the check and the win, but I’m not counting on it
UAB has a chance to win its eighth game, the most since it moved to Division I-A in 1996. Don’t worry; the Blazers play oh-for UTEP at home to finish.
LINE: Florida by 10.5. FLORIDA.
LOUISIANA TECH (4-6, 2-4) at TEXAS-EL PASO (0-10, 0-6), 3 p.m.
TV: CUSA TV
If you’re wondering, La Tech closes against Texas-San Antonio in a bout for a bowl berth. The Bulldogs surely aren’t going to get knocked out in this one.
LINE: Louisiana Tech by 17. UTEP TO COVER, SOMEHOW.
RICE (1-9, 1-5) at OLD DOMINION (4-6, 2-4), 2 p.m.
If you’re wondering, the Monarchs close at Middle Tennessee in their bid for surprise bowl eligiblity. No harm here.
LINE: ODU by 8.5. ODU
Last week: 3-2
East: FAU 6-0, FIU, Marshall 4-2, WKU, MTSU 3-3, ODU 2-4, Charlotte 1-5.
West: North Texas 6-1 (clinched division), UAB 5-2, Southern Miss 4-2, UTSA, Louisiana Tech 2-4, Rice 1-5, UTEP 0-6.
Bowl eligible: Marshall (7-3), FAU (7-3), North Texas (7-3), UAB (7-3), FIU (6-3), Southern Miss (6-4). On verge: UTSA (5-4), WKU (5-5), MTSU (5-5).
Eliminated: UTEP, Charlotte, Rice. On verge: Old Dominion (4-6), Louisiana Tech (4-6).
Rushing yards: Devin Singletary, FAU, 1,360; Spencer Brown, UAB, 1,177; Jeffery Wilson, NT, 1,143, Ito Smith, Southern Miss, 1,018. (Marshall: Tyler King 5th, 662.)
Passing yards: Mike White, WKU, 2,986; Mason Fine, NT, 2,804; J’Mar Smith, La Tech, 2,454; Chase Litton, Marshall, 2,356.
Pass efficiency: Mason Fine, NT, 223-351-9, 2,804 yds, 22 TDs, Rating 146.2; Dalton Sturm, UTSA (151-243–3, 1,830 yds, 15 TDs, rating 143.3); Kwadra Griggs, Southern Miss (99-178-2, 1,402 yds, 11 TDs, rating 139.9). Marshall: Chase Litton 8th (207-344-10, 2,356 yds, 18 TDs).
Receptions: Teddy Veal, La Tech, 62; Thomas Owens, FIU, 56; Korey Robinson, Southern Miss, 56. (Marshall: Tyre Brady, 4th, 56; Marcel Williams, 10th, 40; Ryan Yurachek 12th, 38.)
Receiving yards: Thomas Owens, FIU, 887; Korey Robinson, Southern Miss, 861; Tyre Brady, Marshall, 777. (Other Marshall: Marcel Williams 10th, 496; Ryan Yurachek 19th, 367.)
Team total offense: North Texas 476.2, FAU 462.7, Southern Miss 430.5. (Marshall 9th, 382.6)
Team total defense: UTSA 293.7, Southern Miss 324., Marshall 332.6.
Scoring offense: FAU 39.4, North Texas 36.8, UAB 32.0. (Marshall 5th, 28.2)
Scoring defense: UTSA 17.8, Marshall 19.4, Southern Miss 22.8.