CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 03: Dominique Davis #4 of the East Carolina Pirates drops back to pass against the South Carolina Gamecocks during their game at Bank of America Stadium on September 3, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Week 5 in Conference USA features a West division showdown between UTEP and Houston, as well as some great out of conference matchups like SMU @ no. 20 TCU, Marshall @ Louisville, and North Carolina @ ECU. C-USA really has a shot to pick up some good wins for the conference here. Let's hope we can do it. Here are week 5 game picks in Conference USA.
The Cougars are coming off a blowout win over Georgia St. 56-0. They enter the game at 4-0 with wins over UCLA, North Texas, La Tech, and Georgia St. The Miners are coming off a 52-24 loss at No. 16 South Florida. Although the score may not show it, the Miners played tough, and stayed in the game for majority of it. These two teams always play each other tough, and I don't expect this one to be any different. But the Cougar offense is extremely potent, and I'm not sure the Miners will put up enough points.
Projection: Houston 34, UTEP 28 Tulane Green Wave (2-2) @ Army Black Knights (1-3) 12:00 p.m. ET, Saturday October 1st
Last week the Green Wave got taken care of on the road at Duke. They've been completely unpredictable this season as they rolled UAB 49-10 the week before. Army is coming off a 48-21 loss at Ball St., and this could be one of their worst years in quite some time. The Black Knights rarely throw the ball, in fact they only average 38 yards a game through the air. But, they are 3rd in the nation with nearly 375 yards a game on the ground. I see a close one, but I don't expect Army to put up enough points.
Projection: Tulane 35, Army 31
Marshall is coming off a 30-10 loss to No. 11 Virginia Tech. Doesn't seem like such a bad outcome, but I'm still just baffled at the 44-7 loss to Ohio the week before, and the 26-20 win over Southern Miss the week before that. Louisville is coming off a 24-17 win over rival Kentucky, but lost to Florida International the week before that. Marshall certainly has the talent to hang with the Cardinals, but it just depends on which team shows up to play.
Projection: Louisville 28, Marshall 24
SMU is coming off a 42-0 win over Memphis, and beat Northwestern St. the week before that. TCU is coming off a 55-17 win over Portland St., and took care of Louisiana Monroe before that. Neither of these teams really have a big win. TCU's best win is over Air Force, and SMU's is over UTEP. But, TCU went blow for blow with No. 15 Baylor in week one, and they can really light up the scoreboard. I wish I could take SMU in the upset, but I just don't see it happening.
Projection: TCU 42, SMU 31
North Texas Mean Green (1-3) @  Tulsa Golden Hurricane (1-3) 7:00 p.m. ET, Saturday October 1st
North Texas is coming off 24-21 win at Indiana. They've also lost to No. 1 Alabama, Houston, and Florida International. Tulsa has now fallen to 1-3 on the season, but all their losses are against top quality opponents. Last week they fell to No. 4 Boise St. 41-21. I will say that playing three top 10 opponents in non-conference is a good way to prepare yourself for conference play, but its almost impossible to judge where the Hurricane are truly at. If they're not careful, the Mean Green could surprise.
Projection: Tulsa 41, North Texas 27
 Memphis Tigers (1-3) @ Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (0-3) 7:00 p.m. ET, Saturday October 1st, ESPN3
The Tigers are coming off a 42-0 loss at the hands of SMU. For a lack of better words, they've been absolutely horrible this year. Their lone win came against division 1-AA Austin Peay. The Blue Raiders come in at 0-3, but were competitive at Purdue (24-27), and at Troy last week (38-35). I really wish I could say that Memphis was going to pick up the win here, but the Raiders can move the ball. They're averaging 320 yards passing, and nearly 150 rushing per game. If they did that against tougher opponents than Memphis, why would that change now?
Projection: Middle Tennessee 38, Memphis 21
The Blazers are coming off a 28-23 loss to East Carolina. Judging by the score it seemed like a close game, but the Pirates had 7 turnovers. It seemed like every time they'd drive it into the red zone, they'd just give the ball right back to the Blazers. The Trojans are coming off a 38-35 win over Middle Tennessee, and played No. 18 Arkansas very tough the week before that. This one should be a pretty good game, but the Blazers just haven't done anything to show they can win this one.
Projection: Troy 31, UAB 27.
 Rice Owls (1-2) @  Southern Miss Golden Eagle (3-1) 7:30 p.m. ET, Saturday October 1st
The Owls are coming off a 56-31 loss at No. 15 Baylor. They had the week off before that, and needed a blocked FG at the end of regulation to survive Purdue at home in week 2. Southern Miss came into the season as one of the favorites in C-USA, but took a while to get things going. They come in off a 30-24 win at Virginia. This is the final tuneup for Southern Miss before their big out of conference game at Navy. I think the Golden Eagles make it three in a row.
Projection: Southern Miss 38, Rice 24
North Carolina Tarheels (3-1) @  East Carolina Pirates (1-2) 8:00 p.m. ET, Saturday October 1st
This here is my game of the week. Besides UTEP and Houston of course. The Pirates finally picked up their first win 28-24 over UAB in very sloppy fashion. Of course, they lost to top 15 teams Va Tech, and South Carolina before that. North Carolina comes in off a 35-28 loss to No. 21 Georgia Tech, but they gave the Yellow Jackets all the could handle. If the Pirates clean things up, which I think they will, this one will be the best game of the week, and should go down to the wire.
Projection: East Carolina 35, North Carolina 34