Around C-USA: Week 4


The big news around the conference this week is the season ending injury to Houston QB and Heisman candidate Case Keenum. The 5th year senior suffered a torn ACL late in the second quarter of the Cougars loss at UCLA. To make matters worse late in the third quarter backup QB Cotton Turner was also lost for the season with a broken clavicle. Though not yet announced officially it is expected that Houston Head Coach Kevin Sumlin will name true freshman Terrance Broadway as the new starter.

PASADENA, CA - SEPTEMBER 18: Quarterback Case Keenum  of the Houston Cougars manages to dump off a pass as he is pulled down by linebacker Sean Westgate  of the UCLA Bruins at the Rose Bowl on September 18, 2010 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

UAB staged one of the most dramatic comebacks in their history in 34-33 win over Troy. With no timeouts, reserve QB Bryan Ellis engineered a 99-yard drive in the final 1:09 of the game, capping off the drive with a 44-yard `Hail Mary’ touchdown pass to freshman WR Jackie Williams. Ellis’ performance helped the Blazers overcome a 23-0 lead Troy had built through the midway point of the second period, and a 33-20 deficit in the final quarter. The comeback was the largest in UAB history. The previous largest deficit UAB had overcome was a 22-point deficit in a 51-34 win over Houston in 2002. The Blazers had trailed in that game, 28-6.

The SMU 35-21 win over Washington State was the first win against a BCS team since a win over Kansas (31-17) on Sept. 2, 2000, snapping a 17-game losing streak. Sophomore QB Kyle Padron was 19-of-34 for 280 yards and four scores. SMU has won five straight home games and is 7-2 in the last nine games, the best mark for any nine-game stretch since a stretch from the 1984 and 1985 seasons.

UCF true freshman QB Jeff Godfrey did nothing to temper the lofty expectations from Golden Knight fans in his first college start by going 15-of-24 for 130 yards passing and also ran for 44 yards.. With his 30 yard INT return fo a TD Senior DE Bruce Miller became the first UCF defensive lineman to return an INT for a TD since Jerry Nemethy on a 39-yard return against Alabama A&M on Oct. 17, 1981. UCF has scored on each of its last 14 red zone possessions dating back to Nov. 28, 2009.

UTEP senior QB Trevor Vittatoe became the first quarterback in UTEP history to throw for five touchdowns in a game four times as he completed 19-of-30 passes for 246 yards in the Miner 42-10 win over New Mexico State.  He also rushed three times for a career-best 54 yards in finishing with 300 yards of total offense. Vittatoe now has 83 career touchdown passes, the fifth-best total in Conference USA history.

NEW ORLEANS - NOVEMBER 07:  Quarterback Trevor Vittatoe #10 of the UTEP Miners at Louisana Superdome on November 7, 2009 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

East Carolina scored on five of their first six possessions and led 24-21 at halftime before falling at Virginia Tech on Saturday, 49-27. Pirate Junior QB Dominique Davis finished the day 30-of-44 for 251 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Senior WR Dwayne Harris caught 10 passes for 130 yards and a touchdown. He has now scored in seven consecutive games.

Ryan Williams became the first true freshman to start at QB for Memphis since 1986 in the Tigers 24-17 win over Middle Tennessee State.  All 24 Tigers points came following MTSU turnovers, as Memphis forced four miscues for the first time since the 2007 Middle Tennessee game.

UTEP RB Donald Buckram, who ran for almost 1,600 yards in 2009 could make his return this week versus Memphis. Buckram is the second leading returning rusher in the nation.

C-USA team records since conference realignment in 2005:

School                         C-USA            Overall

Houston                      30-11               44-25

East Carolina              30-12               40-28

Tulsa                           27-14               44-25

UCF                            26-14               36-31

Southern Miss            25-15               39-29

Rice                             19-21               24-39

UTEP                          17-23               28-35

Marshall                     17-23               23-38

Memphis                     17-24               25-37

SMU                           15-26               23-40

UAB                            13-28               20-42

Tulane                           8-32               15-46

Best team win week 2:

Going to call this one a draw between the UAB hail mary win over Troy and the Memphis win over MTSU. UAB Coach Neil Callaway REALLY needed this victory and Larry Porter got his first win as Memphis Head Coach.

Worst team loss week 2:

No doubt it was the Houston loss at UCLA. More so for the loss of Case Keenum to a season ending ACL injury then the loss on the field. This takes a team that had longshot BCS dreams and puts their season in an entirely different perspective.

CUSA Power rankings:

  1. East Carolina (2-1) – Could not hold an early lead on the road at Virginia Tech.
  2. Southern Miss (2-1) – Impressive win over mediocre BCS team(Kansas) at home.
  3. UCF (2-1) – Good win and good things from young Mr. Godfrey
  4. SMU (2-1) – Washington State isn’t a power but it shows SMU is making progress.
  5. Houston (2-1) – A different team from one week ago. Young QB gets Tulane at home this week.
  6. Tulsa (1-2)– Not much good to take from the basing at OSU.
  7. Memphis (1-2) – Big win vs MTSU. Winnable game at UTEP this week.
  8. UTEP (2-1) – New Mexico State may be the worst team in D1.
  9. Rice (1-2) – Not a terrible loss to Northwestern but only win is a squeaker vs North Texas
  10. Marshall (0-3) –  Still looking for first win. The West Virginia loss still hurts.
  11. Tulane (1-1) – Get the first shot at the post Keenum Cougars this week.
  12. UAB (1-2) – They won’t apologize for the win over Troy.

Blind Squirrel’s C-USA picks for this week

Last week’s pick’s record (8-3)

TCU at SMU:  SMU has won five straight home games but I’m not sure how much of a home field advantage they will have against TCU. So far SMU has beaten the teams they are supposed to beat and played Texas Tech tough. TCU has won its last six road games and 17 straight regular season games. Andy Dalton has been phenomenal at QB for TCU. My pick: TCU 34 – SMU 21

UCF at K-State: I think KSU is a little overrated. They are one dimensional on offense and have given up some points on defense. Still, that one deminsion is Daniel Thomas and he is tough to stop even when you know he’s going to get the ball. It’s also not easy to win in Manhattan Ks. A good test for the Knights to find out where then stand. My pick: Kansas St 23 – UCF 20.

Tulane at Houston: This is an interesting game considering the QB situation at Houston. They still have a lot of talent at the skill positions and should roll Tulane at home. If they don’t it won’t be a good sign for the rest of their season. Emotions should also be high for Houston in their first home game without Keenum. My pick: Houston 35  – Tulane 13

Southern Miss at Louisiana Tech: Ruston is not an easy place to play and this will be a tough game for the Golden Eagles. Still, Southern Miss is the better team and La Tech as not been impressive. My pick: Southern Miss 27 –  Louisiana Tech 17

Baylor at Rice: Baylor coming off a disappointing loss to TCU but Robert Griffin is very dangerous. The Owl defense will struggle to contain Griffin and the Baylor offense. Rice needs to control the ball offensively to keep the ball out of Griffins hands. It would be a good time for Rice to get RB Sam McGuffie untracked. My pick: Baylor 30 – Rice 17

Central Arkansas at Tulsa: We all know that FCS schools can’t be taken lightly and Central Arkansas is 3-0 and in some FCS Top 25 polls. Still, Tulsa is looking for a whipping boy after they filled that role themselves last week in Stillwater. My pick: Tulsa 49 – UCA 21

UAB at Tennessee: UT is coming off home losses to Florida and Oregon. It would be in the best interest of Derek Dooley’s future as head coach of the Vol’s not to let UAB stay close. Bryan Ellis will get the starting not for UAB. It won’t matter. Tennessee 49 – UAB 14.

Ohio at Marshall: Marshall still looking for their first win and this may be the best chance they’ll have for the next month. Marshall is tough in Huntington. Ohio is 1-2 with their only win over Wofford. Marshall 23 – Ohio 13

Memphis at UTEP:  UTEP is 0-3 all-time vs Memphis. The Tigers got a nice confidence boost last week in their win over Middle Tennessee. RB Donald Buckram is expected to make his season debut this week and if 100% could be a huge factor. My pick: UTEP 30 – Memphis 21

Week 3 CUSA Players of the week:

UAB junior QB Bryan Ellis was selected as the C-USA offensive player of the week. Ellis came off the bench in the second quarter and threw for 360 yards and three TD’s to lead UAB to a 34-33 come-from-behind win over Troy. Ellis led a 99 yard game winning drive  in the final 1:09.

UCF Junior DE Darius Nall was named C-USA defensive player of the week after leading UCF with nine tackles, including three TFLs and two sacks, plus a pass-break up and a quarterback hurry in UCF’s 24-10 win at Buffalo.

Tom Hornsey of Memphis and Deron Wilson of Southern Miss share the C-USA Special Teams player of the week award. helped keep Hornsey kicked a career-high 10 punts in the game, averaging 41.7 yards per punt. He kicked a career-long 63-yard punt from the Memphis six-yard line late in the fourth quarter that helped keep MTSU in its own territory and go three-and-out in a critical defensive opportunity for the Tigers. Wilson recovered a block punt and went seven yards for a touchdown late in the second quarter of the Golden Eagles’ 31-16 win over Kansas on Friday night. It was the second-straight week that he was involved with a blocked punt, tallying one last week against Prairie View.

Written by John Huber @Fort80 on Twitter

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