Marshall’s men’s basketball team will take the floor against University of Texas El Paso without its freshman guard Justin Coleman as it gets its Conference USA schedule underway after he was suspended for using a cell phone during a game. Coleman has been suspended indefinitely by head coach Tom Herrion.
Coleman played the first half in a close game against Belmont the other day but was benched in the second half and that is where he was spotted slipped a cell phone out of the sleeve of his warm-ups and proceeded to doodle on it for most of the second half.
In 12 games this season Coleman is averaging 6.2 points and 2.9 rebounds per game.
The Houston Chronicle is reporting that officials from Conference USA and the Mountain West Conference were briefed about a possible football-only merger that might help the new league become part of the Bowl Championship Series.
Under the proposed merger, the leagues would play separate schedules and at the end of the season the two champions would meet in a title game with the hope that the winner would receive a BCS bid.
The report says talks will continue Tuesday and Wednesday during the annual meetings of Division I athletic directors in Dallas. The report says a football-only federation which would include 22 to 24 schools would offer the new league a “strength in numbers” response to recent conference realignment.
“It’s an intriguing concept,” Rice athletic director Rick Greenspan told the Houston Chronicle. “It’s one that is probably a bit unique in college athletics.”
C-USA commissioner Britton Banowsky said in a statement that the two leagues were discussing a merger and “working to create consolation strategies that have the potential for positioning our members well into the future.”
Conference USA currently has 12 schools that play football: East Carolina, Marshall, Central Florida, Southern Miss, Memphis, Alabama-Birmingham, Southern Methodist, Tulsa, Tulane, Houston, Rice and Texas-El Paso. East Carolina applied for Big East membership last week and Central Florida has expressed interest in leaving for the Big East.
The Mountain West schools include Texas Christian. Colorado State, Boise State, Wyoming, San Diego State, UNLV, Air Force and New Mexico. Texas Christian will head to the Big East on July 1, 2012. Fresno State, Nevada and Hawaii (football only) will join the league in 2012.
Carl Johnson the NFL’s head of officials, recently discussed how there are a few female referees under consideration to make the jump to the NFL and that he expects one to be hired very soon. It would be the first time in history a woman would be an official in the NFL.
One of the likely candidates to become one of the first female officials in the NFL is Sarah Thomas, who is currently a referee in the Conference USA for college football. Thomas is entering her fifth season at the Division I level, which also happens to be the minimum amount of years needed before the NFL considers bringing referees up to the professional level.
“Any professional sport is at the highest level, and if they asked me to officiate at that level, I would not turn them down,” Thomas said. “But at the same time, I have the understanding at the D-I level about what it takes to keep you here, the energy it takes to get prepared. You are grateful to be officiating at the D-I level.”
ESPN has sued Conference USA, accusing the league of violating their contract when it signed a new deal with FOX. The lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court in New York seeks either damages of at least $21 million or for the conference to honor the extension the network claims it agreed to. The two sides signed a five-year deal in 2005 worth $21.9 million. It included a provision giving ESPN exclusive rights to try to re-negotiate the package in 2010.
The suit also claims Conference USA did not satisfy the terms that would have allowed it to negotiate with other networks. The league announced in January it had reached a five-year contract with FOX’s networks to broadcast its football championship game and other sports events.
The suit says the FOX deal is for $43 million, nearly double the amount ESPN contends Conference USA agreed on to stay with the network.
This game goes down on the ESPN network and it features the University of Georgia Bulldogs taking on the University of Central Florida Knights in the 53rd annual AutoZone Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tennessee.
Central Florida, 10-3, 7-1 C-USA, the Knights won their second straight Conference USA title with a victory over SMU. The Knights. Head coach George O’Leary is excited that for the next few years he will be able to have true freshman quarterback Jeff Godfrey handling the offense. Godrey took over quarterback duties from Rob Calabrese mid-game in the second week against NC State and almost lead them to a huge comeback. Godfrey has a passed for 2,042 with 13 touchdowns and 6 interceptions while his 165.3 passer rating puts him 8th in the nation.
Godfrey is still young and there will be time for him to come into his own but for the time being the Knights punish opponetts with a ground game that racks up 192.5 ypg. Ronnie Weaver leads the team with 890 rushing yards, while Godfrey is second with 546 and the top three rushes have crossed the end zone 31 times for the the Knights.
Georgia, 6-6, 3-5 SEC, the Bulldogs are one of 11 teams competing in this seasons bowl games who posted sub .500 conference records. Head coach Mark Richt saw his first season that his team did not post at least 8 wins.
The Bulldogs are guided by redshirt freshman quarterback Aaron Murray who has thrown for 2,851 yards and 24 touchdowns against 6 interceptions. Murray thrust into the lineup from opening weekend had to learn on the job without the schools best wide reciever A.J. Green, who was serving a four-game suspension. Green returned to lead the team in receiving, despite playing just eight games, having caught 49 passes for 771 yards and 9 touchdowns.
The offense which has been clicking of late was informed that the 5.4 ypc of running back Caleb King will be done without as he is to miss the game due to academic reasons. Washaun Ealey and Carlton Thomas will be called upon to shoulder the backfield duties.
The Georgia defense is led by a pair of playmaking linebackers in Justin Houston and Akeem Dent. Houston leads the team with 10 sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss while Dent is a tackling machine that ranks second in the SEC with 122.
Georgia and UCF has met just one time prior back in 1999 with the Bulldogs winning.
PICK: University of Central Florida Knights
This game goes down on the ESPN network and it features Army Black Knights taking on Southern Methodist University Mustangs in the 8th annual Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl at Gerald J. Ford Stadium, Dallas, Texas.
Army, 6-6, is playing in its first bowl game since 1996 and only the second since 1988. The Black Knights did fade a bit down the stretch, dropping three of their final four contests to close out the regular season which included their ninth consecutive loss to Navy. Head coach Rich Ellerson has made his triple option attack a staple at West Point. Army averages a robust 256 rushing yards per game, which ranks 10th in the nation. Like most option teams, the passing game has taken a backseat as the Black Knights rank 120th.
Army quarterback Trent Steelman has been as integral to the team’s success as anybody as he has rushed for 694 yards and a team best 11 touchdowns in addition to his 7 passing touchdowns. Fullback Jared Hassin tops the team with 931 rushing yards to go along with his 9 touchdowns.
Defensively Army’s defense has been susceptible to the run at times this season, but the Knights are solid against the pass, ranking 23rd nationally with 190.5 passing yards allowed per game and rank 27th in total defense.
SMU, 7-6, 6-2 C-USA, will have the luxury of playing in its home stadium for this matchup, where the team went 4-2 this year. SMU has reached the postseason for the second straight year after topping Nevada in the 2009 Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, 45-10. The Mustangs won the Conference USA West Division with a 6-2 league mark this year, though they went just 1-4 outside of conference play. SMU’s spread passing attack under head coach June Jones will present quite a contrast in styles.
The Mustangs are littered with playmakers on that side of the ball, including three first-team All-Conference picks. One of those players is left tackle Kelvin Beachum, who has started all 13 games this season to anchor a line that has paved the way for a school-record 5,391 yards of total offense. Another is running back Zach Line, 1,391 rushing yards on the season only trails that of Eric Dickerson in school history. Line is the C-USA leader with 107 yards per game on the ground. At wideout, senior Aldrick Robinson has amassed 1,225 receiving yards this season, making him the only receiver in school history with two 1,000-yard seasons. His 13 touchdown catches are also a new SMU record, as are his seven straight games with a touchdown grab.
Quarterback Kyle Padron has had a fine season for SMU, is averaging 271.2 passing yards per game and has thrown 29 touchdowns against 12 interceptions. While Robinson has accounted for nearly half of those TD passes, Padron does have some other solid options in the passing game. Cole Beasley has also gone over the 1,000-yard mark (1,036) and actually leads the team with 84 catches.
SMU’s defense has seen the triple-option already this season, so there shouldn’t be many surprises there. SMU has played a fairly tough schedule, with seven of its opponents this season earning bowl bids.
Army has won both prior meetings in the all-time series between these two schools, although these teams have not met since 1967.
PICK : Southern Methodist University Mustangs
This game goes down on the ESPN network and it features East Carolina University Pirates taking on the University of Maryland Terrapins in the Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman, previously known as the EagleBank Bowl, which is now in its 3rd year taking place at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.
East Carolina, 6-6, 5-3 C-USA, is lead under first year head coach Ruffin McNeill and has the Pirates strength being their explosive passing attack, which ranks 7th nationally at 319.3 ypg. Quarterback Dominique Davis has thrown for 36 touchdowns while completing nearly 65 percent of his passes. His 3,699 passing yards are the 4th-most in the nation. Behind Davis the Pirates rank 12th in the nation in scoring at 38 ppg.
The Pirates have a pair of top-notch receivers in Lance Lewis and Dwayne Harris, a First Team All-Conference USA pick as both a wideout and punt returner. Lewis has caught 78 passes for 979 yards and a team-high 13 touchdowns, while Harris set single-season school records with 93 catches and 1,055 yards to go along with 10 touchdowns. The rushing game is handled by Jon Williams who has rushed for 846 yards and 10 touchdowns while averaging 5.5 yards per carry.
Defensivley the Pirates have found themselves in shootouts on a weekly basis this season as they ranked dead last out of 120 Division I schools in total defense at 478.8 ypg and rank 118th in scoring defense at 43 ppg.
Maryland, 8-4, 5-3 ACC, had the second best turnaround in all of college football season as they posted a 6 win increase from a year ago. However, the Terps suffered a pair of late-season losses to division leaders Florida State and Miami to finish one game shy of qualifying for the ACC title game. Now, they must be carry a heavy emotional burden into this game as Athletic Director Kevin Anderson had decided to not bring back head coach Ralph Friedgen, who was responsible for the turnaround next season and named the ACC Coach of the Year.
The Terps offense has been anything but dynamic, as they rank 85th nationally in total offense 342.4 ypg and have had virtually no running game. However, in their last three wins the Terps quarterback Danny O’Brien began to grow into the role of the teams leader and displayed it on the field in each performance. On the season as whole though O’Brien has completed only 56.8 percent of his passes while throwing 21 touchdowns against only 6 interceptions. A major part of O’Brien late season success was his ability to find Torrey Smith who has caught 65 passes for 1,045 yards and 12 touchdowns, and he’ll no doubt be able to work his strengths against a Pirates horrible secondary.
This marks the first ever meeting between these two schools.
PICK: University of Maryland Terrapins
The St. Petersburg Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl is tonight but on Sunday in an effort to keep the players active and entertained until then the orginaziers put on a Beach Bash. The Beach Bash was supposed to be a fun event for Louisville and Southern Miss players which involed a little dancing. The problem is that tempers flared up over some dance moves and the two schools nearly got into a brawl, prompting State Troopers to show up and end the party early.
“Someone said something disrespectful, did a little jawing after the dance contest… it’s all good,” said Louisville linebacker Dexter Heyman. It’s “just a little too close to game time, ya know?”.
Southern Miss players had a different perspective.
“They started talking trash about us being in Conference USA, [that] we can’t dance… it was stupid. We’ll do our talking on the field. A friendly dance competition and they take it all serious? It’s ridiculous,” uttered one Golden Eagle.
Here’s a look at what things looked like [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Nw5fr4MCMA&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]
This game goes down on the ESPN network and it features Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles taking on the University of Louisville Cardinals in the 3rd annual St. Petersburg Bowl but first under the sponsorship of Beef ‘O’ Brady’s at Tropicana Field.
Southern Miss, 8-4, 5-3 C-USA, is making a postseason appearance for the ninth straight season with a team that racked up eight wins this year but their year began and ended the same way, with a loss. After falling to South Carolina in their opener, the Golden Eagles responded with four straight wins. However, the regular season closed out with a 56-50 loss to Tulsa.
The Golden Eagles are no strangers to playing in bowls, having made a postseason showing in 12 of the last 13 years but head coach Larry Fedora has an offense that is very potent on the ground and through the air this year. Taking care of the passing attack is Austin Davis, who completed over 60 percent of his throws this season and averaged 241.5 ypg. He threw for 18 touchdowns while tossing only 6 interceptions. Johdrick Morris was Davis favorite target with his team best 46 receptions for 663 yards and it came from the tight end spot.
There is not one main option that Southern Miss relies on in the ground game that produced 203.4 ypg. The running game showcased a few talented backs like Kendrick Hardy, who ran for 855 yards and 7 touchdowns while Desmond Johnson, had 509 yards and 7 touchdowns.
Louisville, 6-6, 3-4 Big East, head coach Charlie Strong did not have an overly impressive inaugural season, but still claimed Co-Coach of the Year honors in the Big East along with Connecticut’s Randy Edsall. The Cardinals have the potential on the roster to possess a balanced attack, but that was not the case, who fell way short of expectations in 2010. A major reason for the team’s short-comings was due to injuries to a couple of key players in Bilal Powell and Adam Froman. Powell only missed one game on the year, but spent most of the season dealing with nagging injures. However, that did not stop the running back from rumbling for 1,330 yards and 10 touchdowns on 6.3 yards per attempt.
Froman’s injury was much more severe, and kept the quarterback from competing in four games, while limiting him in other key matchups. In eight games Froman completed over 60 percent of his throws and tossed 11 touchdowns against 4 interceptions. However, in Froman’s absence Justin Burke, performed admirably throwing 8 touchdowns and completed 56.7 percent of his passes
The former conference rivals are meeting for the first time in the postseason with Southern Miss leading the all-time series 18-9-1. Southern Miss is 9-11 all-time in bowl games and is coming off last years 42-32 loss to Middle Tennessee in the New Orleans Bowl. This will be Louisville’s first postseason appearance since the 2007 Orange Bowl and is 6-7-1 all time in bowl games.
PICK: Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles
The 2010-2011 bowl season kicks off today and that means the return of the Primetime College Football segments. Usually the Primetime College Football posts are slated for any national televised football game that starts at or after the 6 p.m. CST spot where I finished 76-31 on the season. However, Bowl Games are the true essence of Primetime College Football, with that being said no matter what the start time is, a PCF post will be provided and to kick it off is the fifth annual New Mexico Bowl in Albuquerque playing host to Brigham Young University Cougars and the University of Texas at El Paso Miners.
This game takes place on ESPN in Albuquerque, New Mexico and features two former WAC rivals that are playing for the first time since 1998 however come kick off the 2010 bowl season as a couple of .500 programs.
BYU, 6-6, 5-3 MWC, is a program that has been one of the elite in the Mountain West Conference for several years, but fell on hard times in 2010 as this is their first season since 2005 that the Cougars are not going to post a 10-win season. Following a 23-17 win against Washington in the opener, the Cougars dropped four in a row and head coach Bronco Mendenhall refused to give up and thus began the great reclamation project.
The Cougars are operating with a freshman quarterback in Jake Heaps for much of the season after junior Riley Nelson was lost for the season. Heaps finished the season strong having four straight passing efforts of at least 225 yards and tossing 9 touchdowns with just a single interception. Making the second half of the season a bit easier on Heaps was J.J. Di Luigi, who not only led the team in rushing with 819 yards and 7 touchdowns on the ground, he also reeled in a team-high 42 receptions for another 422 yards and a touchdown.
While the offense was slowly building momentum for the Cougars in the second half of the season, so was a defense that allowed a combined 61 points in the final five games. Prior to that run, opponents of BYU had tallied no less than 17 points in any one contest so it was both facets of the team that began to turn the corner when it meant the most. The pass defense for the Cougars was one of the best in the MWC this season, ranking third in the league and 21st nationally with just 187.8 ypg allowed and because of that opponents struggled to generate more than 21.4 ppg on the season overall.
The Cougars defense has also stepped up of late, surrendering 10 points over the previous four games after allowing 27.0 in the first eight. Their pass defense ranked 21st nationally with just 187.8 ypg allowed.
As for UTEP, 6-6, 3-5 C-USA, they built themselves up with early success by posting five wins in the first six games, unfortunately from the middle of the season on the wins became more and more scarce for head coach Mike Price. In fact UTEP has won just once in the last six outings, a 28-14 triumph over SMU during Conference USA play. The Miners who represent Conference USA are the first non-MWC or WAC team to make an appearance in the New Mexico Bowl.
The Miners have been handled by quarterback Trevor Vittatoe for years now and has thrown for more than 12,000 yards in his career and 94 touchdowns. Vittatoe has hit a wall of late as he is only averaging 155.6 yards and has thrown 8 interceptions in his last six games. Unfortunately for Vittatoe, the rushing attack barely made a dent against the competition on most weekends, averaging just 149.5 ypg to place seventh in Conference USA and 69th in the country, Wideout Chris Adams had strong numbers down the field for the Miners with his 44 receptions for 917 yards and 11 touchdowns.
On defense for coach Price he has a playmaker in defensive back Travaun Nixon who leads the team with 3 interceptions and has 69 total tackles.
BYU leads the all-time series with UTEP 28-7-1 and has taken 25 of the previous 27 meetings. The Cougars have won three of their previous four bowl games, including 44-20 over Oregon State in the MAACO Las Vegas Bowl last December. Meanwhile, UTEP is back in the postseason for the first time since the 2005 GMAC Bowl when the group suffered a 45-13 loss to Toledo. The Miners will be looking for its first bowl victory since defeating Mississippi 14-7 in the Sun Bowl in 1967.
PICK: University of Texas at El Paso Miners
This game goes down on the ESPNU network and it features University of Texas at El Paso Miners taking on the University of Arkansas Razorbacks at Razorback Stadium.
Head coach Mike Price has his Miners bowl eligible after last weekends 28-14 victory over SMU. That victory halted a three-game skid for the Miners, who opened the season with wins in five of their first six games.
Quarterback Trevor Vittatoe leads a UTEP team that is averaging 26.5 ppg and 373.4 total ypg. Vittatoe has completed 55.2 percent of his passes for 2,260 yards and 19 touchdowns with only eight interceptions. Kris Adams is a dangerous wideout for the team, as he has recorded 743 yards and 10 touchdowns on just 37 catches. As for the ground attack, Joe Banyard has rushed for 418 yards and five touchdowns.
Opponents are posting 21 ppg against UTEP, which is surrendering 373.0 total ypg. The Miners have been mediocre against both the run and the pass, and with only 13 takeaways and 11 sacks there has been a glaring lack of big plays made. Trevaun Nixon is tops with three interceptions, but the team clearly lacks a defensive standout.
Head coach Bobby Petrino leads his Razorbacks into this matchup seeking it’s fourth consecutive wins. They are 7-2 overall and 4-2 in SEC action after they crushed South Carolina last weekend on the road by a 41-20 final.
Arkansas, which is averaging 35 ppg and 482.4 total ypg. The Razorback offense is led by Ryan Mallett, an elite signal caller who has completed 66.8 percent of his passes for 2,752 yards and 19 touchdowns against eight interceptions. Mallett’s top target, Greg Childs, was recently lost for the season with a knee injury, but with D.J. Williams, Joe Adams and other talented receivers in the mix, Arkansas should be able to overcome that loss. Knile Davis has played well at the tailback position, as he has rushed for 662 yards and nine scores.
The Razorbacks are allowing 156.7 rushing ypg and 170.2 passing ypg.
Arkansas won its only previous meeting with UTEP back in 1989.
PICK: University of Arkansas Razorbacks
This game goes down on the ESPNU network and it features the University of Alabama at Birmingham Blazers taking on Mississippi State University Bulldogs at Davis Wade Stadium.
Head coach Neil Callaway takes his Blazers into a non-conference game with a 2-4 overall record and 1-2 in Conference USA. The Blazers managed to halt a two game slide last weekend with a 21-6 triumph over UTEP as they try and finish strong in hopes of a bowl bid this season.
Junior quarterback Bryan Ellis, 1198 yards 8 touchdowns 5 INTs, has completed 57.1 percent of his throws this season for the Blazers. When Ellis puts the ball in the air he often looks to senior wide receiver Frantrell Forrest, 364 yards 4 touchdowns. However the Blazers operate a two quarterback system as they try to utilize sophomore David Isabelles, 394 yards 4 touchdowns, legs. If it’s not Isabelle running the ball those duties are handled by junior Pat Shed, 317 yards. The offense is generating only 21 ppg this season despite racking up 422.2 total ypg.
Defensively opponents are scoring 28 ppg against the Blazers which is allowing 374.8 total ypg. The Blazers have struggled against the pass, permitting 13.3 yards per completion and 11 touchdowns.
Head coach Dan Mullen has his Bulldogs 5-2 overall and 2-2 in the SEC as they prepare to play in this non-conference meeting against a Conference USA opponent. The Bulldogs are riding a four-game win streak that is coming of a 10-7 victory over the Florida Gators and his old boss Urban Meyer.
The Bulldogs offense is generating 28 ppg and 392.3 total ypg with most of it coming on the ground as 16 of their 25 touchdowns have come by that way. The Bulldogs themselves are operating a two quarterback system with that of junior Chris Relf, 708 yards 5touchdowns 3 INTs, and freshman Tyler Russell, 555 yards 4 touchdowns 5 INTs, under center and both have produced solid results. Regardless of who is throwing passes sophomore Chad Bumphis, 461 yards 4 touchdowns, is often on the receiving end. Junior Vick Ballard, 516 yards 11 touchdowns, leads the rushing attack followed by Relf and his 377 yards 2 touchdown efforts.
The defensive unit of Mississippi State deserves a ton of credit for the early success of the team, as opponents are only managing 16 ppg and 332.9 total ypg against the Bulldogs. Just four rushing touchdowns have come against this unit. Senior linebacker Chris White, 57 tackles 12 tackles for loss and 5 sacks is the true standout on that side of the ball.
Mississippi State has won two of its three all-time meetings with UAB, the most recent of which took place in 2007.
PICK: Mississippi State University Bulldogs
This game goes down on the ESPN2 network and it features the University of South Florida Bulls taking on the University of Cincinnati Bearcats at Nippert Stadium.
Head coach Skip Holtz, who is in his first year of coaching the Bulls after guiding East Carolina to consecutive Conference USA titles, brings his team into this Big East matchup 3-3 overall and 0-2 in conference. The Bulls are coming off a terrible showing against West Virgina in which they lost 20-6 in Morgantown.
The Bulls enter the game still looking for some consistent identity with the offense. The offense continues to struggle with sophomore quarterback B.J. Daniels, 803 yards 4 touchdowns 10 INTs, under center where he can only complete 56.0 percent of his throws. Daniels inconsistent efforts show why the team ranks 107th in the nation in passing at 157 yards per game.
The rushing attack is the only real way the South Florida has moved the ball on offense. The Bulls can thank senior running back Moise Plancher, 352 yards 4 touchdowns, and sophomore Demetris Murray, 253 yards one touchdown. The Bulls are averaging 157.7 yards per game on the ground.
The defense has clearly been the strength of the Bulls this season as they only allowing opponents to score 16 points per game on them which ranks them 18th in the nation.
Back to back Big East champions, the Bearcats have gotten off to a rocky start under new head coach Butch Jones who has already lost three games this season. Cincinnati is doing all it can to rebound their season and have won its last two games to know be 3-3 overall and 1-0 in the Big East.
The Bearcats are really finding their rhythm on offense and junior quarterback Zach Collaros, 1455 yards 17 touchdowns 3 INTs, has been finally able to have enough time behind a shaky offensive line. Collaros is completing 63.4 of his throws and often looks cutting across the middle of the field for junior wide receiver D.J. Woods, 550 yards 6 touchdowns, or senior wide receiver Armon Binns, 525 yards 7 touchdowns.
The rushing attack was a huge missing piece for the Bearcats during their losing streak as they where without junior back Isaiah Pead, 547 yards one touchdown, who is returned after missing two games with a knee injury. Pead is averaging 8.8 yards per carry since his return for Cincinnati.
Cincinnati owns a 5-2 edge in the all-time series with South Florida and has won the past four meetings.
PICK: University of Cincinnati Bearcats
This game goes down on the ESPN network and it features the University of South Florida Bulls taking on West Virginia University Mountaineers in Morgantown.
Head coach Skip Holtz, who is in his first year of coaching the Bulls after guiding East Carolina to consecutive Conference USA titles, brings his team into this Big East matchup 3-2 overall and 0-1 in conference. The Bulls are coming off a shocking loss at home to Syracuse 13-9, who only won won game last year, but have beaten West Virginia in three of their past four games and that includes last year 30-19 at home.
The offense is lead by sophomore quarterback B.J. Daniels, 684 yards 4 touchdowns 7 INTs, has struggled so far completing 52.6 percent of his throws. Besides Daniels high number of interceptions for so early in the season also comes with an alarming number of 10 sacks he has given up. Daniels will take off with the ball though at times if he can’t find either senior wide receiver Dontavia Bogan, 219 yards 2 touchdowns, or sophomore Evan Landi, 215 yards, open. Daniels is third on the team in rushing at 186 yards and 2 touchdowns.
The Bulls prefer to keep the ball on the ground and do so by giving the ball to senior Moise Plancher, 289 yards 4 touchdowns, and sophomore Demetris Murray, 253 yards one touchdown. The Bulls are averaging 176.2 yards per game on the ground and 4.6 yards per carry.
The Bulls have been great on defense this season and have only allowed over 14 points just one time which came in their 38-14 loss at Florida. Senior defensive end Craig Marshall, 6 tackles for loss 4 sacks, is one to watch on this side of the ball.
Head coach Bill Stewart has his Mountaineers ready to play in their first Big East conference game and 4-1 overall. The Mountaineers lost to LSU in Baton Rouge 20-14 but rebounded with a 49-10 victory over UNLV this past weekend.
The offense is a two headed monster of sophomore quarterback Geno Smith, 1139 yards 12 touchdowns 2 INTs, who has completed 66.4 percent of his throws and one of the top backs in the nation with senior running back Noel Devine, 475 yards 4 touchdowns, who is averiaging 5.3 ypc.
When Smith looks down field he usually looks in the direction of fellow sophomore wide receiver Tavon Austin, 366 yards 2 touchdowns. Senior wide receiver Jock Sanders, 286 yards 2 touchdowns, is another of his favorite targets and has looked for him in crucial situations this season. Smith benefited by having junior wide receiver Brad Starks,100 yards 3 touchdowns, back in the lineup last week after missing the first four games with a groin injury
The Mountaineers have really thrived on the defensive side of the ball this season, holding opponents to only 254.6 ypg and a mere 13 ppg, which is 7th best in the nation. The Mountaineers are only giving up 86.8 rushing ypg and just one rushing touchdown this season.
PICK: University of South Florida Bulls
This game goes down on the ESPN network and it features the University of Central Florida Knights take on Marshall University Thundering Herd at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.
Head coach Doc Holliday has his Thundering Herd enter tonight’s matchup 1-4 overall and 0-1 in Conference USA. Holliday is in his first year at Marshall but is not off to the start he had hope for and is coming off a 41-16 loss to in conference foe Southern Mississippi. Marshall’s lone win this year came at home where the Herd are 121-20 all-time.
Marshall is lead by senior quarterback Brain Anderson, 880 yards 8 touchdowns 5 INTs, but leads a team that ranks 77th in nation in passing. Even more alarming is that Marshall is often behind by more than two touchdowns so they tend to go to the air more. When Anderson is able to complete a pass its usually to sophomore Antavious Wilson, 272 yards 5 touchdowns. The running game for Marshall though is even worse than there passing game where they rank 105th in the nation and only average 101 yards per game.
The Herd defense is giving up 35 points per game and can virtually be on run at any time as they have given up on an average of 173.8 yards per game.
Head coach George O’Leary’s has his Knights 3-2 overall and 1-0 in Conference USA where they sit in first place. The Knights have a legit shot at winning the conference title this year with the team they have as they are balance on lots of fronts, especially coming off last year where they finished 6-2.
This still while being lead by freshman quarterback Jeff Godfrey, 531 yards 1 touchdown 2 INTs, who also serves as a dual threat. Godfrey, 283 yards 2 touchdowns, also leads the Knights in rushing where he is averaging 5.4 yards per carry. However the rushing attack isn’t done by Godfrey alone, as they have junior Ronnie Weaver, 255 yards 5 touchdowns, in the backfield as well.
Coach O’Leary has relied heavily on rushing the ball this season and his team has responded by turning out 192.8 yards per game and out of the 14 touchdowns scored by this offense, 11 have come via the run.
The Knights defense is a strong one that is holding opponents to just 13 points per game and holding teams total offensive total to 265.2 yards per game.
PICK: University of Central Florida Knights
This game goes down on the CBS Sports network and it features the Mississippi State University Bulldogs taking on the University of Houston Cougars at Robertson Stadium.
Head coach Dan Mullen brings his Bulldogs down to the great state of Texas to play in a non conference game with his team at 3-2 overall record and 1-2 in the SEC. Mullen is still yet to go away from running a two quarterback system which has helped to his losing record in the SEC.
Junior quarterback Chris Relf, 618 yards 5 touchdowns 3 INTs, and freshman Tyler Russell, 483 yards 4 touchdowns 5 INTs, have split time time under center. They both have the luxury of having junior running back Vick Ballard, 284 yards 8 touchdowns, and his 6.5 yards per carry behind them. It also doesn’t matter who is underneath center when it comes to the passing game because both quarterbacks always look to sophomore wide receiver Chad Bumphis, 352 yards 4 touchdowns, first.
The Bulldogs are only allowing opponents to score 16 ppg which is good for 22nd in the nation.
They have only allowed 3 touchdowns to come on the ground and have a play-maker in senior linebacker K.J. Wright who leads the defense with 38 tackles.
Head coach Kevin Sumlin has had two weeks to prepare his Cougars for the Bulldogs and hopefully with improve on their 3-1 overall record. The Cougars are playing at home in this non conference game but are 2-1 in Conference USA after their 42-23 win over Tulane.
Houston however ranks in the top-20 nationally in both total offense and scoring offense. They averaging 44 ppg which is 6th best. The Cougars are doing this without senior quarterback Case Keenum and backup Cotton Turner who were lost for the season in September. To make matters worse, the team’s leading receiver James Cleveland, 324 yards 3 touchdowns, is expected to be held out due to suspension.
The Cougars can still turn their attention over to junior running back Bryce Beall, 418 yards 9 touchdowns, and his 6.7 ypc. Houston’s quarterback of the moment is freshman Terrance Broadway, 258 yards one touchdown one interception, but still has a lot of work to put in.
The Houston defense is allowing opponents to score about 26 ppg against them which is 77th in the nation. Surprisingly though Houston has come uo with 7 interceptions while only allowing 6 touchdowns.
Houston owns a 9-6 series lead over Mississippi State, which includes three straight wins over the Bulldogs.
PICK: University of Houston Cougars
This game goes down on the ESPN network and it features the University of Alabama at Birmingham Blazers takes on the University of Central Florida Knights at BH Networks Stadium in Orlando.
Head coach Neil Callaway takes his Blazers into their second Conference USA game with a 1-3 record and 0-1 in conference. The Blazers last game was an overtime loss to the University of Tennessee 32-29.
Alabama Birmingham is lead by junior quarterback Bryan Ellis, 777 yards 4 touchdowns 3 INTs, who is completing just 56.3 percent of his passes. The Blazers may rank 28th in the nation in passing at 259 yards per game but rotate with a two quarterback system. The backup quarterback is sophomore David Isabelle, 260 yards 3 touchdowns 2 INTs, but uses more of his legs at this stage and has rushed for 327 yards 4 touchdowns on a 5.5 yard per carry. When Ellis is there he looks to his favorite targets down field in senior wide receivers Frantrell Forrest, 261 yards 2 touchdowns, and Mike Jones, 171 yards 2 touchdowns. The Blazers don’t have much of a running game outside of Isabelle but the rushing attack is handled by junior Pat Shed, 247 yards.
The defense has found themselves on the field more than the nations average and it shows in their scoring defense where they rank 98th.
Head coach George O’Leary brings his Knights into their first Conference USA game with an overall record of 2-2. O’Leary and his Knights are coming off a loss in Bill Snyder Stadium to the Kansas State Wildcats 17-13.
O’Leary is turning over the reins of quarterback to freshman Jeffrey Godfrey, 394 yards one touchdown 2 INTs, after junior Rob Calabrese proved to be ineffective in his eyes. Godfrey is the future and provides a little extra in his ability to rush the ball, 203 yards 2 touchdowns, at 4.3 yards per carry. The rushing game received a spark last week when junior running back Ronnie Weaver rushed for 130 yards one touchdown against the Wildcats.The Knights haven’t been able to establish a real threat down field but junior wide receiver A.J. Guyton, 201 yards one touchdown, is the first option.
The Knights defense is only allowing teams to score 15 points on them to rank 21st in the nation.
The Knights lead the all time series 4-1 which included last years win in Birmingham at Legion Field 34-27.
PICK: University of Central Florida Knights
This game goes down on the CBS Sports network and it features the Marshall University Thundering Herd taking on Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles in Hattiesburg.
Head coach Larry Fedora brings his Golden Eagles into their first Conference USA game with a 3-1 overall record. The Golden Eagles have won 10 straight home games dating back to November of 2008. The Golden Eagles junior quarterback Austin Davis, 804 yards 2 touchdowns 3 INTs, has had a rough start to this season but has completed 67.5 percent of his throws. The Golden Eagles golden goose though on offense is sophomore running back Desmond Johnson, 222 yards 3 touchdowns, who is averaging 4.7 ypc.
The defense for Southern Mississippi has been holding opponents to just 19 ppg and 311 total yards per game both of which rank in the middle of the pack nationally.
Things are a little bit different for head coach Doc Holliday for his Thundering Herd enter their first conference game with a 1-3 record. The Herd rank 100th in the nation in scoring and are averaging just 332.5 ypg, which ranks 87th. Senior quarterback Brian Anderson, 850 yards 7 touchdowns 5 INTs, is usually looking for sophomore Antavious Wilson, 213 yards 5 touchdowns when he throws the ball.
The Herd currently rank 101st in the nation in total defense with 430.5 ypg.
Southern Mississippi won the last encounter 27-20 in November to increase its lead in the all-time series to 4-1.
PICK: Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles
This game goes down on the ESPN network and it features Texas Christian University Horned Frogs taking on Southern Methodist University Mustangs in the battle for the Iron Skillet at Ford Stadium.
The Horned Frogs have a 17-game regular-season win streak in progress and are off to a tremendous start to the 2010 season by defeating their first three opponents by a combined score of 137-38. Last week head coach Gary Patterson watched as his Horned Frogs and senior quarterback Andy Dalton, 21-23 for 267 yards 2 touchdowns, rolled over Baylor 45-10. Dalton currently leads all Division I quarterbacks with 32 victories and is just one touchdown from tying Max Knake as the schools all-time touchdown passing leader with 49, who did it for the Horned Frogs between 1992-1995. Dalton comes into this game at 15th in the nation with a 161.4 passer rating and has completed 74.6 percent of his throws.
Dalton has the luxury of having talented sophomore running back Ed Wesley, 384 yards, who is averaging 8.2 per carry. Last week against Baylor Wesley carried the ball 19 times and recorded a game high 165 yards and 2 touchdowns. Senior wide receiver Jeremy Kerley, 134 yards 3 touchdowns, has turned into one of Dalton’s favorite targets.
Patterson defense has limited opponents to 222.7 ypg, which ranks 4th best in the nation and 9th in points allowed at 12. The Horned Frogs most telling stat on defense is that they have been the opposition to just a 29 percent conversion rate on third downs.
The Mustangs have last years All-SGE-NCAA Football Coach of the Year June Jones back for another season under control and has watched his team rebound from a season opening loss to Texas Tech, 35-27, by beating both University of Alabama at Birmingham and Washington State to stand 2-1.
The Mustangs have a real quarterback of the future with sophomore Kyle Pardon, 643 yards 8 touchdowns 3 INTs, but will be up for a real test against the Horned Frogs. Pardon threw for 280 yards and 4 touchdowns and ran for a 5th against Washington State. Pardon has not thrown an interception in the Mustangs two wins after being intercepted 3 times in it’s loss to Texas Tech. Pardon has a good feel about spreading the ball around but did find senior wide receiver Aldrick Robinson four times for 111 yards and 3 touchdowns against the Cougars.
Defensively the Mustangs are 17th in the nation against the run limiting teams to only 82 ypg. The Mustangs pass defense is another issue as they have given up 265.3 ypg to rank 100th in the nation. Jones defense though does get a lot of pressure at the line of scrimmage as his unit recorded 4 sacks last week and averages 7 tackles for loss plus 3 sacks per game to be tied for 14th in the nation.
The Horned Frogs have held the Iron Skillet for three straight years after posting a 39-14 victory last season and now owns a 43-39-7 advantage in the all-time series with the Mustangs. The last time the Mustangs won the Iron Skillet was their last win over a ranked opponent when the Horned Frogs where number 22 in 2005.
PICK: Texas Christian University Horned Frogs
This game goes down on the ESPN network and it features the University of Kansas Jayhawks taking on Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles at M. M. Roberts Stadium in Hattiesburg.
Kansas has had clearly a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde start to their season after opening at home in new head coach Turner Gill’s debut with a 6-3 loss to Division II North Dakota State then rebounding with an 28-25 upset win over Georgia Tech.
After struggling to get anything going on the ground against North Dakota State, the Jayhawks were more consistent against the Yellow Jackets and the success was due to the play of true freshman James Sims. Sims, who did not see action in the opener, rushed for 101 yards and one touchdown, became the first running back in school history to surpass 100 yards in his freshman debut. The Georgia Tech game also saw the starting debut of freshman quarterback Jordan Webb, 18-29 179 yards 3 touchdowns 1 INT, who played well but was sacked 4 times.
The defense for Kansas allowed only 6 points in the opener but still managed to lose. Then Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde reared it’s ugly head as the Jayhawks allowed 25 points and 291 rushing yards but came up with a victory against Georgia Tech.
The Golden Eagles have too been riding a roller coaster to begin their season as they pushed all around the field in a 41-13 loss to South Carolina then turned around and did the same thing to Prairie View A&M in their 34-7 victory. The Golden Eagles tallied just 13 points in their opener but woke up in the team’s second contest.
Larry Fedora Golden Eagles are a team of a well balanced offense attack while resting their shoulders mainly on the run. The rushing attack is a mixture of freshman Kendrick Hardy, 86 yards, senior V.J. Floyd, 80 yards one touchdown, sophomore Desmond Johnson, 65 yards 2 touchdowns. With the rushing attack a three headed monster there was no real need last week to rely on junior quarterback Austin Davis,11-18 178 yards and one touchdown.
Southern Miss defense was clobbered by South Carolina but surrendered just 7 points against Prairie View A&M. In the victory, the Golden Eagles surrendered just 211 total yards and forced two turnovers. However, against South Carolina the defense was punished for 224 yards on the ground alone.
These two schools have only faced once before in their history and that came last season with a Jayhawks 35-28 victory.
PICK: Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles
This game goes down on the ESPN2 network and it features the University of Mississippi Rebels taking on Tulane University Green Wave at the Louisiana Superdome.
The Ole Miss Rebels will try to rebound from a stunning season opening loss,49-48, loss to Jacksonville State in double overtime. Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt will have a tough decision on which quarterback he will go with as if to continue with Nathan Stanley or transfer Jeremiah Masoli. Stanley was 6-10 for 133 yards 3 touchdowns while Masoli was 7-10 for 109 yards 1 INT while running for 29 yards. Both junior running backs did a great job running the ball with Brandon Bolden leading the way with 104 yards and a touchdown but Enrique Davis finished with 61 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Defensively the Rebels didn’t have any real bright spots as they gave up 49 points at home to a Division 2 school. Incredibly 36 of those points were scored after the fourth quarter began and the the Gamecocks managed to reach the end zone on all four of their red-zone trips which was definitely worthy of being an Mama Margies Major Meltdown honorable mention. Junior safety Damien Jackson lead the Rebels with 11 tackles.
Tulane had a wild 27-21 win over Southeastern Louisiana last Thursday night in its opener. It marked the first time since 2002 that Tulane won its inaugural game. Tulane freshman running back Orleans Darkwa made a stellar debut against SE Louisiana, rushing for 75 yards and 3 touchdowns. Head coach Bob Toledo will have to shore up the protection around fresham quarterback Ryan Griffin who was sacked 4 times, lost a fumble and also threw an INT.
Tulane sophomore middle linebacker Trent Mackey was named Conference USA’s Defensive Player of the Week for his role in last Saturday’s victory. Mackey had a game high and career-best 13 tackles, including 2 tackles for loss and a forced fumble. Overall the defense came away with four takeaways for the game.
Ole Miss leads the all-time series with Tulane, 41-28.
PICK: University of Mississippi Rebels
This game goes down on the ESPN network and it features West Virginia University Mountaineers taking on Marshall University Thundering Herd in Huntington home of the Herd.
The Mountaineers are led by Bill Stewart, now in his third season at the helm and they cruised past Coastal Carolina as expected by a 31-0 final. There are 16 starters back between the offense and defense. While many starters do return for West Virginia, Geno Smith is a fresh face under center. In the opener against Coastal Carolina, Smith was 20-27 for 216 yards 2 touchdowns and 1 INT.
Senior running back Noel Devine ran for 111 yards and one touchdown and the speedy back now has nearly 3,500 rushing yards in his brilliant collegiate career. Senior Jock Sanders was the leading receiver for the Mountaineers as his pulled in 8 catches for 71 yards and one touchdown.
Defensively West Virginia held the Chanticleers to 186 total yards on 60 offensive plays. Of the 14 third-down conversion attempts that Coastal faced in the tilt, only two of those were successful. Sophomore defensive back Terence Garvin lead the way with 7 tackles.
As for Marshall, which is a member of Conference USA, it had the unenviable task of taking on Ohio State in Columbus to open the season last week. The Thundering Herd fell to the Buckeyes in a 45-7 that lopsided defeat spoiled the debut of head coach Doc Holliday.
Holliday’s offense posted just 199 total yards and recorded 11 first downs against Ohio State, which possesses one of the best defenses in all of college football. The Thundering Herd were 4-of-14 on third-down conversion attempts and turned the ball over three times.
A major problem for Marshall was that its receivers dropped far too many passes. Both Brian Anderson and backup Eddie Sullivan saw time under center, and both were victimized by the drops. Anderson was 17-28 for 135 yards 1 INT.
On the defensive side of the ball Marshall was simply over powered by the Ohio State offense. The Thundering Herd were thrashed for 529 total yards as the Buckeyes where able to hold the ball for nearly 35 minutes of the contest. If there was one bright spot on the defense it was the performance of senior linebacker Mario Harvey who recorded 10 total tackles and junior defensive end Vinny Curry who had 2 sacks.
West Virginia has won all nine previous meetings with Marshall, including double-digit victories over the Herd in each of the last four seasons.
PICK: West Virginia University Mountaineers
On Sunday the Conference USA saw a nail biter between University of Tulsa and East Carolina University. It came down to the wire the Golden Hurricanes holding a 49-45 advantage. However with one last shot for the Pirates and five seconds on the clock, Pirates quarterback Dominique Davis hit Justin Jones for game winning touchdown via Hail Mary.
This game goes down on the ESPNU network and it features the University of Memphis Tigers take on Mississippi State University Bulldogs in Starkville.
Mississippi State looks to improve on a 5-7 record 3-5 in SEC play as coach Dan Mullen enters his second year as the Bulldogs main man. Last season the Bulldogs competed against some of the traditional SEC powerhouses while leading the conference in rushing, 227.6 ypg and finishing 9th in the nation. Offensively the Bulldogs return seven starters but lose quarterback Tyson Lee and Running Back Anthony Dixon.
Replacing Lee will be junior Chris Relf, 22 of 41 passes 283 yards and 5 touchdowns, saw very limited action under center. Relf was also the Bulldog’s second leading rusher with 76 carries for 500 yards and 2 touchdowns. No matter who is under center the Bulldogs will have the protection of SEC beast left tackle Derek Sherrod.
Vick Ballard looks to take over Dixon’s vacated spot at tailback but do return top receivers Chad Bumphis and Marcus Green. Together they combined for 59 receptions for 681 yards and 7 touchdowns.
Defensively the Bulldogs return seven starters including the linebacker duo of KJ Wright, 82 tackles 2.5 sack, and Chris White, 75 tackles. However Mullen not satisfied how his defense finished the season went out and hired two defensive specialists in hired Manny Diaz (Middle Tennessee) and Chris Wilson (Oklahoma) to run things.
Memphis starts a new ear in Starkville with new head coach Larry Porter, former assistant at LSU, and new quarterback Cannon Smith. Porter inherits a squad that went 2-10 and 0-5 in Conference USA under Tommy West. It doesn’t get easier for the first year coach as the Tigers will also replace their top two rushers from a year ago as well as the program’s top two all-time receivers. While the specialty positions on offense will be new to playing time the offensive line returns every starter from last season.
Defensively there are six returning starters but that’s from a defense that finished nationally 116th. Tackles Dontari Poe (6-5, 350) and Charlie Bryant (6-8, 320) anchor the defensive line while senior linebacker Jamon Hughes, 87 tackles, mans the middle.
Mississippi State has won 10 straight meetings with Memphis to take a 31-11 series edge, although these teams haven’t faced off since 2003.
PICK: Mississippi State University Bulldogs