The league office has a bunch of bowl-eligible teams, but it also has a final week that doesn’t mean squat as far as the division champs are concerned. I’m sure all of you had North Texas vs. Florida Atlantic in the championship game, right? Phil Steele had both teams 5th in their divisions, with Western Kentucky and Louisiana Tech duking it out next Saturday.
As far as the bowl outlook, 8 teams are in with a 9th assured (Middle Tennessee-Old Dominion winner), and Louisiana Tech fighting for No. 6. Advisory: There will likely be a surplus of bowl teams nationwide and I expect somebody with 6 wins in the league to be out of luck.
The schedule, in (my) order of limited interest:
TEXAS-SAN ANTONIO (6-4, 3-4) at LOUISIANA TECH (5-6, 3-4), 7:30 p.m.
Call this the Hard Luck Bowl — UTSA suffered its 4 league losses by a combined 17 points; La Tech lost 3 of its league games by 9 points, including an overtime heartbreaker to Southern Miss.
By the way, Jared Sackett was named the league’s special teams player of the week for his 3 field goals against Marshall, including the game-winner from 40 with 2 seconds left. UTSA leads the league in 8 defensive categories, thanks in part to that 9-7 game.
But J’Mar Smith is better than MU’s Chase Litton and will yank this one out and put the Bulldogs in the bowl picture.
LINE: La Tech by 1.5. LA TECH
OLD DOMINION (5-6, 3-4) at MIDDLE TENNESSEE (5-6, 3-4), 3 p.m.
I’m sure about a month ago you had these teams battling to be bowl-eligible in the final week. MTSU had benefit of a UTEP-Charlotte swing and the return of QB Brent Stockstill; ODU is on a 3-game streak with RB Ray Lawry back.
Oddity: The teams have not met since 2014, a product of the 13-game schedule of 2015 and 2016. There were two West matchups that could not be fulfilled in those years, with the other being WKU-Charlotte.
MTSU is averaging 421.1 total yards over the last 7 games, while Lawry has rushed for 125 per game over the last 3 weeks. He needs 15 yards to top 4,000 for his career.
I still say Marshall had a pretty good win over MTSU, and this game may underline the point.
LINE: MTSU by 11.5. MTSU
WESTERN KENTUCKY (6-5, 4-3) at FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL (6-4, 4-3), 7 p.m. Friday
TV: beIN Sports
Remember, by league rule, the 7-win teams take precedence in filling out the bowl lineup, so this is a big game.
Also remember: FIU gets another shot next week, playing Massachusetts in a game rescheduled because of Hurricane Irma. The Panthers will need it.
LINE: WKU by 2.5. WKU
TEXAS-EL PASO (0-11, 0-7) at ALABAMA-BIRMINGHAM (7-4, 5-2), 1 p.m.
TV: C-USA TV
UAB’s seniors shouldn’t have a ceremony, they should have a ticker-tape parade.
LINE: UAB by 20.5. UAB
FLORIDA ATLANTIC (8-3, 7-0) at CHARLOTTE (1-10, 1-6), 2 p.m.
TV: Stadium via Facebook
Owls will set the school record for wins since they rose to Division I-A in 2004.
LINE: FAU by 21.5. FAU
NORTH TEXAS (8-3, 6-1) vs. RICE (1-10, 1-5), 1 p.m.
Mason fine threw for 386 yards and four touchdowns last week in a 52-49 win over Army. The Mean Green was 1-11 two years ago.
Whom do you pick for C-USA coach of the year? Seth Littrell? Lane Kiffin? Bill Clark?
LINE: North Texas by 10.5. NORTH TEXAS, LOCK OF THE WEEK
Last week: 1-5 (yikes!)
East: FAU 7-0 (clinched division), FIU, Marshall, WKU 4-3, MTSU, ODU 3-4, Charlotte 1-6.
West: North Texas 6-1 (clinched division), UAB, Southern Miss 5-2, UTSA, Louisiana Tech 3-4, Rice 1-6, UTEP 0-7.
Bowl eligible: Marshall (7-4), FAU (8-3), North Texas (8-3), UAB (7-4), FIU (6-4), Southern Miss (7-4), UTSA (6-4), WKU (6-5).
On verge: MTSU, ODU, La Tech (all 5-6).
Eliminated: UTEP, Charlotte, Rice.
Rushing yards: Devin Singletary, FAU, 1,524; Jeffery Wilson, NT, 1,215; Spencer Brown, UAB, 1,194; Ito Smith, Southern Miss, 1,171. (Marshall: Tyler King 7th, 666.)
Passing yards: Mike White, WKU, 3,471; Mason Fine, NT, 3,190; J’Mar Smith, La Tech, 2,657; Chase Litton, Marshall, 2,545.
Pass efficiency: Mason Fine, NT (247-387-10, 3,190 yds, 26 TDs, rating 150.1; Kwadra Griggs, Southern Miss (119-205-2, 1,623 yds, 12 TDs, rating 141.9); Dalton Sturm, UTSA (176-281–3, 2,094 yds, 15 TDs, rating 140.7); Marshall: Chase Litton 8th (223-367-11, 2,545 yds, 19 TDs).
Receptions: Teddy Veal, La Tech, 68; Ty Lee, MTSU, 66; Korey Robinson, Southern Miss, 65. (Marshall: Tyre Brady, 6th, 56; Marcel Williams, 11th, 40; Ryan Yurachek 11th, 40.)
Receiving yards: Korey Robinson, Southern Miss, 952; Thomas Owens, FIU, 887; Ty Lee, MTSU, 846. (Marshall: Tyre Brady, 5th, 777; Marcel Williams 15th, 496.)
Team total offense: North Texas 477.4, FAU 472.6, Southern Miss 444.5. (Marshall 9th, 367.5)
Team total defense: UTSA 287.2, Southern Miss 316.5, Marshall 334.6.
Scoring offense: FAU 40.5, North Texas 38.2, Southern Miss 30.7. (Marshall 7th, 26.3)
Scoring defense: UTSA 16.7, Marshall 18.5, Southern Miss 22.6.