Week 3 sets up nicely for the C-USA. There are no conference games this week but rather several winnable games for C-USA squads against BCS clubs. Here's the schedule. Predictions follow after the jump.
|Kansas at Southern Miss
|East Carolina at Virginia Tech
|CBS CS, ESPN 3
|Washington State at SMU
|Troy at UAB
|Marshall at Bowling Green
|Middle Tennessee State at Memphis
|Northwestern at Rice
|Tulsa at Oklahoma State
|UCF at Buffalo
|New Mexico State at UTEP
|Houston at UCLA
*All Times are Mountain Time
The Weaksauce Award
Nobody? Look at the schedule. No Conference USA squads are taking on an FCS opponent. In fact, six C-USA teams are playing schools from one of the six BCS conferences. UAB takes on Troy from the Sun Belt. But Troy is a good team that very nearly beat Oklahoma State. To be honest, New Mexico State is the weakest opponent for any C-USA team this week but it's a rivalry game where anything can happen. Middle Tennessee State is good and I think they will beat Memphis.
The Brave Soul Award
Again, there really isn't a clear winner to this award. There may be some money games on the schedule but nothing like what we usually see. No Ohio States. No trips to Austin. In fact, several C-USA squads should be favored to win their games against BCS foes. East Carolina has beaten Virginia Tech before and beating Va. Tech at this point really wouldn't be a surprise.
Best Chance to Make C-USA Look Good
Where do I start?
Washington State at SMU: The Mustangs took Texas Tech to the limit and looked impressive against UAB last week. SMU is a bowl team and should give the C-USA a nice win against the Pac 10 in this one.
East Carolina at Virginia Tech: Virginia Tech is in a free fall. But, it seems like every season they lose a game early on they aren't supposed to and then inevitably battle back to finish in the ACC title hunt. The Hokies have too much pride to slip to 0-3, right? They better show up because Dominique Davis has that ECU offense on fire right now.
Tulsa at Oklahoma State: TU should know what to expect from Dana Holgorsen's offense. The Pokes hung 65 in Week 1 against Washington State and 41 on Troy. TU's defense won't be able to stop Brandon Weeden and company. But, can OSU's defense stop Tulsa? I think OSU wins, but it should be a close game.
Houston at UCLA: UCLA is 0-2 and has scored 22 points in two games. Stanford just shut them out 35-0. Houston's offense shouldn't have any problem in this one. If Case Keenum is back to full health, I expect the Coogs to blow out the Bruins.
The C-USA should win two of the games above at the very least. If the league is going to garner any respect on the national level this season, this is the week to get it started. Marshall should beat Bowling Green. UCF will beat Buffalo. UTEP should take care of NMSU. Tulsa needs to keep it close with OSU and Rice needs to avoid a blowout against Northwestern for this to be a banner week in the C-USA.
The C-USA Game of the Week
Amazingly, there are no C-USA games this week.
The Battle of 1-10
I have no doubts. NMSU's defense is susceptible to the big play and UTEP should be able to take advantage of that. NMSU's biggest problem will be trying to keep pace with UTEP's offense. Matt Christian completed 50% of his passes in NMSU's opening game loss to San Diego State. More importantly, he didn't toss an interception and he did throw 2 touchdowns. Miner fans loved a Jeff Fleming led team. Christian, one game in, is showing a lot more promise than Fleming did.
The Aggies new OC Mike Dunbar is going to bring a spread offense to Cruces. Dunbar was previously the OC at Northwestern, Minnesota, and Cal. This isn't going to be a Wing T offense NMSU is running. They are going to toss it all over the field.
Donald Buckram should be back. Trevor Vittatoe has been playing good football. In the end, I don't think NMSU will keep pace with UTEP's offense. I expect UTEP's defense to bounce back from last week and play out of their minds. It is, after all, a rivalry game.
With a storied rivalry as the backdrop, let's also not lose focus on the fact that UTEP desperately needs this win. The win for Walker would be nice, but it isn't expected. If Coach Mike Price wants to re-energize the fan base after the Houston loss, nothing could be better for that than an Aggie beatdown at the Sun Bowl.
It's time to stop being nice. It's time for Mike Price and the UTEP Miners to start seizing the golden opportunity that is the 2010 season.
NMSU 21, UTEP 38
What's your score?