Picks Up! Your Week 9 Conference USA Viewing Guide & Prediction Thread

A bit late today, but here's your prediction thread.    Let's kick it off, like always, with this weeks Conference USA TV schedule.  I don't think its hard to see what the C-USA Game of the Week is.  East Carolina and UCF square off in a battle of unbeaten C-USA powers in Orlando.  The winner will control their own destiny in the East Division race.  The loser, will hope for chaos.

The Schedule

Sat., Oct. 30 UAB at Southern Miss Hattiesburg, Miss. CSS 11:00 a.m. CT
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  Tulsa at Notre Dame South Bend, Ind. NBC 1:30 p.m. CT
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  UTEP at Marshall Huntington, W. Va.   2:00 p.m. CT
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  East Carolina at UCF Orlando, Fla. MASN 2:30 p.m. CT
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  SMU at Tulane New Orleans, La.   2:30 p.m. CT
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  Houston at Memphis Memphis, Tenn. CSS 6:00 p.m. CT
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The Picks

Last Week:  3-2

Year to Date:  34-9

Game 1:  UAB at Southern Miss

Upset City:  UAB has been playing really good football the last few weeks.  The Blazers really took it to a Mississippi State team that rolled over Houston.  The loss of UAB's best rusher to injury, David Isabelle, has helped get Pat Shed more opportunities to carry the ball.  I think this will be a close game, and something tells me USM is set for a letdown.

UAB 27, USM 24

Game 2:  Tulsa at Notre Dame

The Luck of the Irish   I quickly reviewed Notre Dame's defensive statistics and I was troubled...... at how much better their defense is then I thought.  Earlier in the week, I thought Tulsa had this.  Now, with the incredibly unfortunate events of the week eating up news time, something tells me Brian Kelly's boys are going to come out ready to play.  Tulsa's struggles against SMU's defense are too worrisome.  

Notre Dame 37, Tulsa 17

Game 3:  SMU at Tulane

No Orleans Show:  Tulane looked like the Pittsburgh Steelers running the ball on UTEP last week with Orleans Darkwa leading the way.  SMU's defense, fresh off of a whoopin' by Houston, will be ready to hit someone this week.  Ja'Gared Davis & Co. will dominate this game. 

SMU 31, Tulane 13

Game 4:  Houston at Memphis

Let it Ride?  Houston looked dominant against SMU last week and David Piland seems to have ended any QB controversy with Terrance Broadway.  I still think the Coogs are prime for an upset here or there because a frosh QB is bound to have tough games against good defenses.  Luckily, Piland gets to play a struggling Memphis team this week.

Houston 31, Memphis 20

The Conference USA Game of the Week

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East Carolina at UCF

The Big One:  When Skip Holtz moved on to USF, I think most C-USA fans thought ECU would take a step back.   They did afterall, lose more seniors than any other team in the nation last season.  Instead, the Pirates made a great coaching hire in former Texas Tech defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill.  Ruffin's defense at ECU may be a work in progress, but he smartest thing he did was bring in Air Raid master Lincoln Riley to run the offense.  ECU has become an offensive juggernaut with the steady play of Boston College transfer Dominique Davis at QB.  

The Knights are the polar opposite of ECU.  They want to run the ball behind their incredibly athletic dual threat QB Jeffrey Godfrey and control the clock and win the game on defense.  The Knights have the nations 7th ranked total defense.  The thing is, I don't think Bruce Miller & Co. have played an offense that moves as quickly as ECU's does. 

I know defense wins championships.  But, I think the veteran QB Davis will outduel the frosh Godfrey.  Riley's offense will force UCF to throw the ball.  And right now, their passing game isn't built to play from behind.

East Carolina 27, UCF 24

MMMMMMMMMMMinerball!

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Well, here we go again.  I think I've already written what needed to be written this week.  This game won't be won or loss because of injuries.  Injuries are a part of the game.  This game will be won on the field by the 11 you got.  Trevor Vittatoe and the UTEP offense allowed a chance to claim his first division title slip away with losses to UAB and Tulane in games where the defense fought tooth and nail to keep the score down.  

I didn't do a "Know Your Enemy" this week because we all know what's coming.  Remember the names Martin Ward and Andre Booker.  Those are Marshall's two running backs.  Booker had a monster game against Bowling Green where he rushed for 122 yards on only 7 carries (he had a huge 68 yard touchdown run).  But, when you look at Bookers entire season he's averaging only 4.0 yards per carry and has only carried the ball 15 times for 10 yards, yes 10 yards in his last three games.  Ward had a magnificent 101 yard game against West Virginia.  But in his last 5 games, he's averaged 34 yards a game.

Marshall does not have a good running game.  But, UTEP hasn't been able to stop any running game the last two weeks.  I don't expect to see Brian Anderson tossing a whole lot of deep passes in this one.  If Marshall's coaches don't rush the ball 40 times, they aren't watching film.  So, we know what's coming.   Can UTEP stop it?

UTEP's rush defense isn't what scares me the most about this game.  It's the way Trevor VIttatoe and UTEP's offense has looked the last two weeks that makes this such a tough game.  The Miners haven't been good in the red zone and turnovers (mainly by TV) have been killing drives in the second half of games.  We know how good UTEP's offense can be.   Last season TV and the Miners scored 52 on Marshall's defense.  Vittatoe had four touchdowns in that one.  But, is he the same player now that he was that weekend? 

UTEP hasn't won a C-USA road game since October 4, 2008.   I think UTEP will find a way to get their 6th win.  I just don't see it coming in Huntington.

Marshall 28, UTEP 20

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