Inside Marshall Sports

Grades for Marshall-ODU game

OFFENSE: B-

Early 3-and-out set stage for 1st-half staleness, and Herd came up empty on first trip into ODU territory. But everything loosened up from the end of the half on, and the Herd gained 301 yards in the final 33:39. 195 yards rushing, one sack and zero turnovers.  This team is showing signs of brilliance.

DEFENSE: A

Held 2 good tailbacks to 92 combined yards, made life rough on a young QB, yielded 45 total yards after halftime. In 2 red-zone trips, forced a turnover and a field goal. Super.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B

Let’s see … false start on a field goal, blocked field goal, kickoff out of bounds, things that can sink this grade. Then there is a 92-yard punt and a fumble return TD on a kickoff. That will play.

QUARTERBACKING: B-

Those (successful) 3rd-and-10 running plays? Checks at the line. 3 TD passes, one thrown while hitting the deck. May have missed a few here and there, and 12 of 23 isn’t a pretty number. Arguably, I should erase the “minus.”

COACHING: B+

If you don’t think there were adjustments at halftime, you were watching something else.

OVERALL: B+

A trip to Middle Tennessee will kick the degree of difficulty up a notch or two.

Herd-ODU prediction

Old Dominion will not give up 453 yards rushing today to Marshall, as it did last week to Florida Atlantic. I guarantee it.

They won’t miss 39 tackles, won’t give up 58 points and won’t lose by 30. That I can pretty much guarantee.

On the other hand, Marshall is not going to give up a 200-yard rusher like it did last year at ODU. And no, ODU isn’t going to have two 100-yard backs in Jeremy Cox and Ray Lawry, either. (I am skeptical of Lawry’s comeback. Going from “out for the season” with a torn hamstring to 100 percent in Game 6 seems like a stretch.)

The Herd may leave another touchdown or two on the field, and might even give up a sack or two, but this will be another successful homecoming on a beautiful October day.

MARSHALL, 27-13

Conference USA notebook for 10/11

Abbreviated schedule in the league, with five teams getting the weekend off. As I recall, that will take care of most of the byes.
Looking at the games, in order of (my) interest:

MIDDLE TENNESSEE (3-3, 1-1) at ALABAMA-BIRMINGHAM (3-2, 1-1), 6:30 p.m.
TV:beIN Sports

After seeing UAB knock off Louisiana Tech last week at Legion Field, you know this game could put a mark on the East Division. Not sure the Blazers have that much magic again, but we’ll see.

MTSU linebacker Khalil Brooks earned his second defensive player of the week award against Florida International, racking up three sacks and five tackles for loss. And then there is LB Tavares Thomas rushing for three TDs as a Wildcat QB.

Another MTSU name for Herd fans to know: RB Brad Anderson, who has rushed for 260 yards and had 16 receptions over the last three games.

LINE: MTSU by 6.5. MTSU

TEXAS-SAN ANTONIO (3-1, 0-1) AT NORTH TEXAS (3-2, 2-0), 7 p.m.
TV: ESPN3

Oh, what do we have here? The Mean Green is in first place in the West, the only team unbeaten in league. This is a budding little rivalry in the Lone Star State, and this time it means something.

The Mean Green averages 510.8 total yards, 295.2 passing yards and 38.8 points per games, all leading C-USA, and Mason Fine has come out of the gate as Conference USA’s top QB (watching from a distance, anyway).

Both have the same last opponent, Southern Miss, with different results — the Mean Green won 43-28 in Hattiesburg and UTSA lost 31-29 in the Alamodome, when Dalton Sturm’s two-point conversion pass failed with 4 seconds left.

UTSA averages 35:31 in time of possession, third in the FBS. That would go a long way in reeling in NT.

LINE: UTSA by 2.5. UTSA

TEXAS-EL PASO (0-6, 0-2) at SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI (3-2, 1-1), 7 p.m.
TV: Stadium

So Mike Price plants himself on the Miners’ sideline as interim coach and his team holds Western Kentucky to 282 total yards and loses just 15-14. I’m going to chalk that up as an inspired effort.

Ito Smith ran for 178 yards last week at UTSA, including 89 up the middle for a TD. That gave Southern Miss a 28-13 lead, making the Roadrunners play catch-up the rest of the way.

Generally, I go against UTEP in high humidity, and there will be plenty of that on an 88-degree day in Hattiesburg.

LINE: Southern Miss by 22.5. SOUTHERN MISS

TULANE (3-2) at FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL (3-2), 7 p.m.
TV: CUSA TV (If it works)

A 37-17 loss to MTSU temporarily puts to rest the scary specter of a C-USA championship in Riccardo Silva Stadium. The Panthers were brought back to earth by four sacks and a 306-total-yard day.

Tulane is coming off a 62-28 pounding of Tulsa, on which the Green Wave gained 653 total yards.

LINE: Tulane by 13.5. FIU

Last week: 4-2
Season: 26-22

Standings
East: FAU 2-0, Marshall 1-0, FIU 2-1, WKU, MTSU 1-1, Old Dominion 0-1, Charlotte 0-2.
West: North Texas 2-0, Southern Miss, UAB, La Tech, Rice 1-1, UTSA 0-1, UTEP 0-2.

Stat leaders
Rushing yards: Devon Singletary, FAU, 686; Jeffery Wilson, NT, 666; Ito Smith, Southern Miss, 613. (Marshall: Keion Davis 9th, 302.)

Passing yards: J’Mar Smith, La Tech, 1,529; Mason Fine, NT, 1,442; Mike White, WKU, 1,255; Chase Litton, Marshall, 1,206.

Pass efficiency: Dalton Sturm, UTSA (78-110-1, 1,026, 9 TDs, rating 174.4); Keon Howard, Southern Miss (27-43-0, 370, 3 TDs, rating 158.1); Mason Fine, NT (102-163-4, 1,442, 11 TDs, rating 154.3). (Marshall: Chase Litton 7th, 109-178-3, 1,206, 10 TDs, 133.3.)

Receptions: Teddy Veal, La Tech, 36; Ty Lee, MTSU, 35; Tyre Brady, Marshall, 29. (Other Marshall: Marcel Williams 9th, 22).

Receiving yards: Tyre Brady, Marshall, 495; Thomas Owens, FIU, 462; Jalen Guyton, NT, 444.

Team total offense: North Texas 510.8, UTSA 478.8, Southern Miss 449.6. (Marshall 7th, 373.8)

Team total defense: UTSA 269.8, MTSU 341.2; Southern Miss 346.6, MTSU 348.2. (Marshall 5th, 346.8)

Herd-Charlotte notebook

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The marching orders for the Marshall defense were simple: Stop Hasaan Klugh.
The welts the Thundering Herd gave him in the 14-3 victory were a bonus.

Klugh was a major factor in beating the Herd a year ago in that 27-24 upset in Huntington. He was 17 of 31 passing for 203 yards, and ran for the game-winning touchdown.

On this gloomy Saturday night in Jerry Richardson Stadium, Klugh was stifled. He went 10 of 26 for 132 yards, with an interception. His NCAA passer rating was a lousy 73.2.

But more telling was his rushing numbers — he netted just 4 yards on eight attempts, including two sacks. MU was credited with seven quarterback hurries, which included hard hits that altered Klugh’s thrown.

Options and designed runs for Klugh got nowhere. As the game wore on, he didn’t seem to be running as fast, and he didn’t have a rushing attempt in the 49ers’ 10 plays in the fourth quarter.

“One of the guys on the sideline said, ‘Keep going at him; he’s getting up slower and slower every time you hit him,’” said linebacker Chase Hancock. “That was our game plan, shut him down, because we knew how dangerous he could be, and I think we did that.”

***

The Herd played its second game in the state of North Carolina for the first time since 1995 (North Carolina State, Western Carolina), which is always convenient for the thousands of MU grads who live in the Tar Heel State.

Charlotte announced the attendance at 10,584 in its 15,314-seat stadium, a figure that no doubt includes no-shows. You could put the kelly green contingent at 1,500, perhaps 2,000.

They were loud and proud.

“What a great showing our fans made,” said Herd coach Doc Holliday. “I think we had more fans than they did in this arena. I can’t tell you how much our fan base means to us.”

***

As ugly as the contest was, Marshall had few moments of discomfort, as far as the final result. Tight end Ryan Yurachek cited a difference from the Herd team that lost to Charlotte last year.

“We were think after the game, we wouldn’t have won this game last year,” he said. “We would have found a way to lose this game — defense wouldn’t have gotten off the field, offense wouldn’t have gotten the first downs we needed [late in the game]. It shows how far we’ve come.”

***

Other items of note:

* Safety Malik Gant, who had developed into perhaps the team’s best one-on-one tackler, led the Herd with 11 stops. He was credited for 1.5 tackles for loss. His 38 stops are now second on the team, behind Hancock’s 45.

* If you had Obi Obijalo catching more passes than Marcel Williams, you had one really good crystal ball. But that’s what happened, as Obijalo caught his first MU pass. Williams was shut out, which may not happen the rest of the season.

* Bizarre play of MU’s season: Chris Jackson intercepted a Klugh pass, returned it 4 yards before being hit hard by Uriah LeMay. He then fumbled, and Charlotte’s Nate Mullen returned it 21 yards to the Marshall 38.

On top of that, Jackson was official called for a block in the back, though he may have been the wrong person announced.
That was Charlotte’s deepest penetration in the first half. The 49ers lost 2 yards on first down, threw two incomplete passes and punted — an 18-yard popup at that.

* Receiver Hyleck Foster has permanently changed from No. 2 to No. 6. Last week, he had to change his jersey on special teams to avoid a duplicate number with Jaquan Yulee.

* The game lasted 2 hours, 56 minutes, a rare sub-3 hour game in the FBS ranks.

Grades for Charlotte game

OFFENSE: D

Ran for 212 yards, 5.0 yards per carry, and gained 404 total. No sacks, keeping MU’s season total at 2 after 5 games. But these guys threw up on themselves in Charlotte’s end of the field. 2 fumbles, 1 lost (remember, another fumble came on an interception return). Give these guys credit for a clock-killing drive, but this performance was otherwise dreadful.

DEFENSE: A

I know, I know, Charlotte’s offense is grim. But the Herd made sure it stayed that way. Held the 49ers to 80 rushing yards, 212 total, and clobbered Hasaan Klugh the entire game. You didn’t see Klugh runnin’ too fast late in the game, did you?

SPECIAL TEAMS: D

Worst game for this bunch. Vedvik missed a field goal — his first miss that’s on him — and gave Charlotte hope with a rare lousy punt (38 yards with 15-yard return, putting 49ers on Marshall 45). And we saw an absolute no-no — a penalty on a return. Starting drives at the 12 is no way to live.

QUARTERBACKING: D+

Chase Litton should have had a better day than 19 of 28 for 192 yards. He should have had a great day. He let 2 TDs slip away — one on a long pass to Tyre Brady and another to Ryan Yurachek.

COACHING: C

I didn’t like 3rd-down play-calling at all. It was as if the staff was happy to score 14 points and turn the game over to the defense. That defense wasn’t giving up much of anything, though — Chuck Heater had those guys *prepared*.

OVERALL: C

C- is the lowest grade I give for wins, if you’re wondering. The Herd had no chance of losing this game, but 14-3 against the No. 130 team in the FBS stinks to high heaven. But it’s a Conference USA road win, so what the heck.

 

Marshall-Charlotte prediction

Hello, Herd fans!

It is time to begin Marshall’s 13th league season in Conference USA with the Thundering Herd’s second trip to Charlotte. In 2015, the Herd strung up the 49ers 31-3 at the half, then won 34-10 after a very blah second half.

Last year, a veteran 49ers squad came to Huntington and gave Herd fans indigestion, stealing a 27-24 win at Edwards Stadium. There is the starting point of this prediction.

The Herd will have some trouble with QB Hasaan Klugh, who scored the go-ahead TD last year, and blossoming RB Benny LeMay, maybe to the point of giving up 100 yards to each. If it’s just 100 and not much more, that’s fine.

Why? Because I have no faith in Charlotte’s passing attack. Watch to see if the 49ers pick up any third downs with 7 or more yards to go.

Expect more wrinkles in Greg Adkins’ second game as offensive coordinator, but I’m not sure it matters. The 49ers hit Florida International with surprises in the first half, then went to sleep after halftime and lost by a point.

The 49ers lost a LOT of players on both sides, and it will show in this game. So will Marshall’s much-improved athletic ability, plus the return of MLB Juwon Young. I can’t think of a better game to make his Herd debut, and I don’t think rust will be much of a factor.

I look for a repeat of the 2015 game. Just remember, if your guys lead by 28 at the half, it doesn’t mean they win by 56.

MARSHALL, 45-14

As Marshall takes its first steps on the Conference USA comeback trail, the rest of the East Division is loaded with standings-shifting games. On the other side, we will see if Texas-San Antonio is all that.

Looking at the games, in order of (my) interest:

FLORIDA ATLANTIC (2-3, 1-0) at OLD DOMINION (2-2, 0-0), 6 p.m.
TV: Stadium

Lane Kiffin may have settled on a starting quarterback in Jason Driskel, who went 22 of 29 for 187 yards and a TD in the Owls’ 38-20 win over Middle Tennessee. But the big story is Devin “Motor” Singletary, who scored four touchdowns and has 492 rushing yards through five games.

Note about ODU: Special teams are playing well, leading the league with a 27.1 kickoff return average, 9.8 on punt returns and eight punts inside the 20-yard line. The Herd gets the Monarchs next week, so this is a good flip-over game during commercials.

LINE: FAU by 4.5. OLD DOMINION, AT LEAST TO BEAT SPREAD

FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL (3-1, 2-0) at MIDDLE TENNESSEE (2-3, 0-1), 3 p.m.
TV: ESPN3

Yes, that’s FIU atop the East Division, with a legitimate chance to knock the Blue Raiders to 0-2. And the Raiders are still very much without QB Brent Stockstill (maybe out for season) and WR Richie James.

But I’m not sure if a six-point win over Rice and a one-point win over Charlotte are positive or negative omens. The 49ers took a 26-7 lead and gained 504 total yards, one of their best-ever performances.

Meanwhile, MTSU trailed nearly all of a 38-20 loss at Florida Atlantic. John Urzua threw for 359 yards, but that only meant that the Raiders abandoned the run game. They were gashed for 252 rushing yards and allowed Devin Singletary to score four touchdowns.

The Blue Raiders will not abandon the run this time.

LINE: MTSU by 10. MTSU

SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI (2-2, 0-1) at TEXAS-SAN ANTONIO (3-0, 0-0), 7 p.m.
TV: Stadium on Facebook, local TV in San Antonio

If Marshall becomes a contender for the East Division title, it has to go through these West teams in the last two weeks to pull it off.

By quirk of scheduling, the teams also played last year in the Alamodome, and the Roadrunners plowed through the Golden Eagles 55-32. After a 45-28 loss last week to North Texas, Southern Miss doesn’t look to be contender material.

The Roadrunners lead the league in most of the defensive categories, but the sample size is still the smallest — wins over Baylor, Southern and Texas State. It’s a shame their game against Houston was canceled, but it’s been a tough hurricane season.

LINE: UTSA by 13.5. SOUTHERN MISS TO BEAT SPREAD, AT LEAST

LOUISIANA TECH (3-2, 2-0) at ALABAMA-BIRMINGHAM (2-2, 0-1), 4 p.m.
TV: CUSA TV

In its Year of the Comeback, UAB’s 46-43 loss to North Texas may be even more impressive than at first glance, as the Mean Green appears to be a contender. But the Bulldogs have given up 55 points over the last three games, so they may have fixed issues on that side of the ball.

Tech’s J’Mar Smith is second in C-USA in passing yardage, 264.0 per game.

LINE: La Tech by 12. LA TECH

WKU (2-2, 0-1 in C-USA) at UTEP (0-5, 0-1 in C-USA), 8 p.m.
TV: CUSA TV.

Yes, Mike Price is back on the UTEP sideline, holding down the fort for the next seven games after Sean Kugler threw in the towel. Price was in the fifth year of his retirement, so he is rested and ready. Don’t know if he’s tanned, though there’s plenty of sun in that part of the world.

WKU’s defense has allowed 74 points (excluding defensive TDs) in four games, the lowest in its 11-year FBS era.

LINE: WKU by 19. EL PASO BEATS SPREAD, SOMEHOW

ARMY (3-2) at RICE (1-4), 6:30 p.m.
TV: beIN Sports

I’ve run out of words and interest.

LINE: Army by 13.5. ARMY

Last week: 2-4
Season: 22-20

Standings
East: FIU 2-0, FAU 1-0, Marshall 0-0, Old Dominion 0-0, WKU 0-1, MTSU 0-1, Charlotte 0-1.

West: North Texas 2-0, Louisiana Tech 1-0, Rice 1-1, UTSA 0-0, Southern Miss 0-1, UAB 0-1, UTEP 0-1.

Stat leaders
Rushing yards: Jeffery Wilson, NT, 666; Devon Singletary, FAU, 492; Benny LeMay, Charlotte, 450.
Passing yards: Mason Fine, NT, 1,442; J’Mar Smith 1,320; White, WKU, 1,047; Litton, Marshall, 1,014.
Pass efficiency: Dalton Sturm, UTSA (51-67-0, 659, 6 TDs); Mason Fine, NT (102-163-4, 1,442, 11 TDs, rating 154.3); A.J. Erdely, UAB (50-94-1, 743, 6 TDs). Marshall: Litton 7th (90-150-3, 1,014, 8 TDs).
Receptions: Teddy Veal, La Tech, 30; Ty Lee, MTSU, 28; Jalen Guyton, NT, 24; Tyre Brady, Marshall, 23; Marcel Williams, Marshall, 22.
Receiving yards: Jalen Guyton, NT, 444; Tyre Brady, Marshall, 407; Teddy Veal, La Tech, 331.
Team total offense: North Texas 510.8, UTSA 482.0, Southern Miss 447.5. (Marshall 8th, 366.2).
Team total defense: UTSA 207.0, Southern Miss 316.0, MTSU 348.2. (Marshall 6th, 380.5).

Prediction for Herd-Cincinnati game

This is a brutally tough game to call. For me, anyway.

Cincinnati is in a superior conference, but is finding its way under a new coach. Marshall may be a game ahead of schedule on the comeback trail.

Neither team is going great guns on offense. Yeah, Cincinnati QB Hayden Moore threw for 381 last week, but played exactly one series when he wasn’t behind — the first series. After that, the Bearcats trailed the entire game and couldn’t run for squat, anyway.

Marshall’s offensive troubles have continued, though Tyler King has offered a ray of hope. Tyre Brady has offered another ray of hope, as have a few others.

But I don’t see a lot of scoring. Marshall’s defense has shown grit in adverse circumstances, and earned its shutout two weeks ago. Of Kent State, I know, I know.

All I really know about Cincinnati’s defense is (a) it held Miami (Ohio) under 300 total yards and (b) its pride was wounded last week at Navy.

The intangibles: The Bearcats are happy to be home after three tough roadies. The Herd is on the verge of a 3-1 start, equaling the win total from the entire 2016 season — and it’s still September!

Sounds great, but I need to see if this MU team can stand prosperity. In the meantime …

CINCINNATI 23, MARSHALL 14

MIDDLE TENNESSEE (2-2, 0-0) at FLORIDA ATLANTIC (1-3, 0-0), 7 p.m.
TV: Stadium

Last year, the teams tangled in Murfreesboro in the final week, and the Blue Raiders won a 77-56 defensive slugfest. The Owls rolled up 589 yards and still was outgained by 168.

MTSU has won the last nine meetings between these former Sun Belt rivals, but with QB Brent Stockstill doubtful and WR Richie James questionable, the Blue Raiders could struggle against a defense that has to be better than that of Bowling Green.

Meanwhile in Boca Raton, Kiffin has tweeted a cut-out of himself holding a bottle of Coca-Cola and an FAU helmet. Anyone who likes, replies or retweets gets a chance to win it.

Kiffin said — and I’m not sure he was joking — he wants to win and send it to former boss Nick Saban.

Back to the field: The Owls like to run and the Blue Raiders will curtail that — at least better than they did last year.

Line: FAU by 3. Huh? MIDDLE TENNESSEE

NORTH TEXAS (2-2, 1-0) at SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI (2-1, 0-0), 7 p.m.
TV: CUSA TV

The Mean Green has the league’s top scoring offense (37.8) and the Golden Eagles are tied for the top scoring defense (13.7). Both had bad FCS teams to skew the numbers, though NT did win a 46-43 shootout over Alabama-Birmingham.

Both teams have 200-yard rushers this season — Jeffery Wilson for NT and Ito Smith for USM — but only one will top 100.

Line: Southern Miss by 9. SOUTHERN MISS

SOUTH ALABAMA (1-3) at LOUISIANA TECH (2-2), 7 p.m.
TV: ESPN3

Former Marshall fourth-string QB Cole Garvin is expected to return from injury for South Alabama, which fired its offensive coordinator on Monday. Don’t raise your expectations against a Tech defense that might be pretty good for once — the Bulldogs beat Western Kentucky 23-22 and lost to South Carolina 17-16.

Line: Louisiana Tech by 14. LOUISIANA TECH

CHARLOTTE (0-4, 0-0) at FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL (2-1, 1-0), 7 p.m.
TV: BeIN Sports

How can the 49ers beat the spread when they can’t score? That’s 211 total yards against Georgia … State.

Brad Lambert is No. 11 in coacheshotseat.com.

Line: FIU by 12.5 FIU

RICE (1-3) at PITTSBURGH (1-3), noon
Television: ACC RSN/Fox Sports Southwest

The Owls have gained 490 yards — over the last two games, vs. Houston and FIU. David Bailiff is No. 17.

Line: Pitt by 20.5 PITT

UTEP (0-4) at ARMY (2-2), 3:30 p.m.
Television: CBS Sports Network

The Miners’ Sean Kugler is No. 12, and that may be too low.

Line: Army by 24. ARMY

Last week: 5-5
Season: 20-16

LEAGUE LEADERS
Rushing: 1. Jeffrey Wilson, NT, 518; Jalen Rhodes, UTSA, 338; Ito Smith, USM 333. Marshall: 21. Keion Davis 105.
Passing (rating): 1. Dalton Sturm, UTSA, 188.3 (76.1%, 659 yds, 6 TD, 0 int), Mason Fine, NT 156.2 (63.4%, 1,072 yds, 9/3) .Marshall: 10. Chase Litton 122.2 (59.5%, 781 yds, 4/3).
Receiving (receptions): 1. Teddy Veal, LT,  25; 2. Nicarius Fant, WKU, 21; 3. Lucky Jackson WKU, 20; 3. Ty Lee (MT) 20. Marshall: 4. Tyre Brady, 19.
Receiving (yards): 1. Tyre Brady, MU, 373; 2. DeAndre McNeal, FAU, 298; 3. R. Bonnette, LT, 279.

Team total offense: 1. North Texas 503.5; 2. UTSA 482.0; 3. Southern Miss 458.3. Marshall: 7th, 366.3.
Team total defense: 1. UTSA 207.0; 2. Southern Miss, 241.3; 3. MTSU 325.5. Marshall: 6th, 391.0

Conference USA notebook for 9/22

We have the game between unfortunate hurricane victima Florida International and Rice, with the University of Alabama at Birmingham playing its first league game since 2014 at North Texas. FIU has two league games in a row, taking on Charlotte on Sept. 30.

This is an uninspired slate. But we forge ahead, with games listed in order of (my) interest, with picks against the spread.

LOUISIANA TECH (2-1) at SOUTH CAROLINA (2-1), 3:30 p.m.

TV: SEC Network

Tech defensive end Jaylon Ferguson was named defensive player of the week after two critical sacks in the 23-22 win over Western Kentucky. The second forced a punt and led to Tech’s winning field goal by Jonathan Barnes.

The Bulldogs were worn out by Mississippi State a few weeks back, but I expect a better effort against the Gamecocks. This is a tricky line.

Line: South Carolina by 9.5. SOUTH CAROLINA

OLD DOMINION (2-1) at (16) VIRGINIA TECH (3-0), 2 p.m.

TV: ACC Network+/ESPN3

These teams are schedule to meet eight times over the next 13 years. The Monarchs will compete at some point, but probably not this year, and not with 17-year-old QB Steven Williams.

I’d tune in just to hear Dave Weekley and John Gregory, a nice pairing all Herd fans know.

Line: Virginia Tech by 28. OLD DOMINION, but not outright

BALL STATE (2-1) at WESTERN KENTUCKY (1-2), 7 p.m.

TV: Stadium

A good chance to scout the two-time C-USA champs, who are faring better on defense than offense — 1,073 total yards in 3 games and 53 points (after removing a pick-6).

Ball State defensive coordinator David Elson was WKU’s head coach from 2003-09, posting a 39-44 record and guiding WKU through the transition to the FBS. He faces a long evening in Bowling Green.

Line: WKU by 7.5. WKU, LOCK OF THE WEEK

FIU (1-1, 0-0) at RICE (1-2, 1-0), 7 p.m.

TV: Stadium on Facebook

After getting blasted 61-17 at Central Florida, the Panthers have had a home game moved to Birmingham and a game at Indiana scrubbed by Irma. Rice was dominated by Houston last week, but I am mindful of what the Owls did to Texas-El Paso the game before.

FIU Alex McGough has a 328-yard game, but that was against Alcorn State. He is a veteran, but Panthers will struggle on the road.

Line: Rice by 2. RICE

FLORIDA ATLANTIC (1-2) at BUFFALO (1-2), 7 p.m.

TV: ESPN3

The Owls ran for 439 yards last week … against Bethune-Cookman. But I have to resurrect my disrespect for the Bulls from Marshall’s MAC days.

Line: Buffalo by 3. FAU

BOWLING GREEN (0-3) at MIDDLE TENNESSEE (1-2), 7 p.m.

TV: ESPN3

The Blue Raiders rushing game has struggled to get going in three games this season, averaging 63 yards per game, but will be facing a Bowling Green defense currently ranked 118th in the country in rushing defense (244 yards per game allowed) and 127th in total defense (554.3 total yards per game allowed). That includes 520 total yards racked up by South Dakota.

The Raiders might miss both QB Brent Stockstill and WR Richie James. I don’t care.

Line: MTSU by 7. MTSU

TEXAS-SAN ANTONIO (2-0) at TEXAS STATE (1-2), 7 p.m.

TV: KMYS-TV (San Antonio)/ESPN3

Dalton Sturm is 34 of 42 passing, an 81 percent rate that is 2nd in the nation. He’ll keep that up against a team that beat Houston Baptist by 9.

Line: UTSA by 13.5. UTSA

UAB (2-1, 0-0) at NORTH TEXAS (1-2, 0-0)

TV: beIN Sports

The Mean Green’s Mason Fine is averaging 271 passing yards, and the team trailed Iowa just 17-14 into the fourth quarter. The home team will win, but Blazers may prove feisty.

Line: North Texas by 13. UAB, but not outright

TEXAS-EL PASO (0-3) at NEW MEXICO STATE (1-2), 8 p.m.

TV: ESPN3

These teams, separated by about 50 miles each other and hundreds of miles from the rest of the planet, are playing for the 95th time. The Miners have won the last eight, but the Aggies will end that string.

If you missed it, endangered UTEP coach Sean Kugler canned offensive coordinator Brent Pease earlier this week, and Brian Natkin takes over.

Line: New Mexico State by 20. UTEP, but not outright

GEORGIA STATE (0-2) at CHARLOTTE (0-3), 6 p.m.

TV: WCCB-TV/CUSA TV

Charlotte just lost to North Carolina A&T; Georgia State has lost to Tennessee State. What a pillow fight!

Line: Pick ‘em. GEORGIA STATE

Last week: 5-4
Season: 15-11