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Picks Up! Your Week 5 Conference USA Viewing Guide & Prediction Thread

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This week, we'll have three C-USA games on the slate along with one money game and two regional rivalries. This is the first time all season that a C-USA squad will face off against a MWC school (UTEP and New Mexico). Also, East Carolina will have a chance to give the C-USA its first win against the ACC this season (0-2). Here's the full slate:

Day Game Kickoff TV?
Saturday Tulane at Rutgers 12:00 PM ESPN3.com
East Carolina at N. Carolina 1:30 PM ESPN3.com
UTEP at New Mexico 4:00 PM MTN (Direct TV Ch. 616 in El Paso)
SMU at Rice 5:00 PM
Tulsa at Memphis 5:00 PM
Marshall at Southern Miss 6:00 PM CBS CS

Picks & Pregame Awards are after the jump.

The Weaksauce Award:

Given to the C-USA school that scheduled the weakest cream puff of the week.

Winner: UTEP at New Mexico

This is a default win since North Carolina and Rutgers are the only other non-CUSA squads on the schedule. This isn't a typical "Central Arkansas" or "Southeast Louisiana" creampuff though, UNM and UTEP have a long history against each other and this is a road game. UTEP gets it because UNM is considered one of the worst 5 schools in the FBS and because Rutgers and UNC are so much better than UNM.

The Funding Women's Cross Country Award

Given to the C-USA school that is sacrificing their football team for a paycheck with no chance at a W.

Winner: Tulane at Rutgers

Traveling across the country to take on a Big East team can't be what Bob Toledo wants to be doing this week. Not since Tulane just played Ole Miss and Houston. Rutgers isn't exactly a powerhouse, but like in the Weaksauce award above, there are slim pickings as we get closer and closer to an all-out C-USA schedule. This revelation means this is likely the last week I'll use these categories which cater to the non-con schedule and break into a full C-USA review of each matchup.

The Best Chance to Make C-USA Look Good Award

Given to the C-USA School with the best chance to beat a BCS Conference Foe this week.

Winner: ECU at North Carolina

I think UTEP has the best chance to get a non-conference win this week, but beating New Mexico isn't going to do much for the C-USA's reputation. North Carolina isn't exactly the machine many thought we'd see this year from Butch Davis. Obviously, the NCAA fall-out has taken the wind out of UNC's sails, but the Heels did manage to beat Rutgers last week in a slug fest. This game is very winnable for Ruffin McNeill's squad and we'll see if Dominique Davis can continue to make ECU's offense roll.

The Picks

Last Week: 8-0

Year to Date: 22-2 (for the record, I only predicted all the games for Week 1 and Week 4 and will continue to do so from here on out. For weeks 2 and 3, I only predicted the UTEP games).

Game Pick
Tulane at Rutgers Rutgers, 31-13
East Carolina at N. Carolina East Carolina 28-24
UTEP at New Mexico See Below
SMU at Rice SMU 38-14
Tulsa at Memphis Tulsa 35-17
Marshall at Southern Miss Southern Miss 27-24

The Conference USA Game of the Week

Conference-usa-logo_medium_medium

Winner: Marshall at Southern Miss.

This is a big game in the East. Can Marshall finally regain the intensity they had in that WVU game or was that a fluke built around an intense rivalry? Southern Miss. is making a move to assert themselves as the team to beat in the East, but I've had doubts about their offense's ability to move the ball against elite defenses. Marshall has some talent, especially along the defensive front. Can Austin Davis and DeAndre Brown get the USM offense rolling the way most people thought it would this year?

The UTEP Pick

I've had a lot of links and commentary this week highlighting the current plight of UNM's head coach, Mike Locksley, and their program in general. I've been following the Lobos over several weeks, because there has been so much drama and intense media coverage there, and I really do feel Locksley has lost that team. Does that mean Saturday is a guaranteed win? Absolutely not. As many in the comments have pointed out, these are exactly the types of games that have plagued the Miners in the last few seasons. There's no denying that, on paper, UTEP is a far better team than New Mexico.

So, the question is, are the 2010 Miners more mentally tough than the 2009 and 2008 squads? Are they capable of handling a little bit of success and going on the road and winning one they're supposed to?

I believe this bunch, with seniors across the board and with a new defensive scheme, will go to Albuquerque and take care of business.

UTEP 35, New Mexico 14


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