Conference USA Week 2 Roundup, Rankings, Breakdowns & Recaps
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C-USA Player of the Week
Old Dominion RB Ray Lawry rushed for 215 yards and two scores on 31 carries to lead the Monarchs over Norfolk State.
Scroll down for thoughts & picks for each Conference USA team
Conference USA East Rankings After Week 2
1. Marshall (1-1)
2. WKU (2-0)
3. Middle Tennessee (1-1)
4. FIU (1-1)
5. Old Dominion (2-0)
6. Florida Atlantic (0-2)
7. Charlotte (2-0)
Conference USA West Rankings After Week 2
1. Louisiana Tech (1-1)
2. Rice (1-1)
3. Southern Miss (1-1)
4. North Texas (0-1)
5. UTEP (0-2)
6. UTSA (0-2)
Everyone Is Chasing Western Kentucky
Two weeks into the 2015 season, there’s some clarity beginning to sneak through the muddled mess that is the Conference USA race.
As expected, Western Kentucky is going to be the team to beat in the conference chase. On the same weekend that the Hilltoppers hung on to beat a quality all-around Louisiana Tech team, Marshall fizzled against Ohio. The fallout? The gap between WKU and the rest of the East Division, the league’s better half, may be wider than originally anticipated.
True, the Hilltoppers lost prolific RB Leon Allen to a terrible knee injury on Thursday night. But Jeff Brohm’s program is built around the passing game. And provided Brandon Doughty is dissecting opposing defenses, it’s going to open the field up for backs D’Andre Ferby and Anthony Wales, when he returns from injury.
And then there’s Marshall, the other half of Western Kentucky’s improved positioning within the league hierarchy. The Herd was a shell of its 2014 self in Athens over the weekend, managing just 10 first downs and 106 yards through the air. There’s plenty of time for Marshall to regroup, and Doc Holliday’s talent pool is still among best in the conference. But something—or someone—is missing right now from that Herd offense.
Marshall is clearly down. La Tech has already been beaten. And the West Division is flush in struggling programs. As long as Doughty remains upright, Western Kentucky appears to be an even stronger favorite to win Conference USA than when the season kicked off two weeks ago.
Florida Atlantic: The offense
Yeah, the Owls faded versus Miami Friday night, but there were enough positive signs to feel bullish about the rest of 2015. FAU was tied with the Canes midway through the second half, and the offense played well for a second straight game. Despite losing QB Jaquez Johnson to injury, the Owls rallied around rookie Jason Driskel to amass 389 yards, including 223 on the ground.
Marshall: Life after Cato
Linchpin former Herd QB Rakeem Cato wasn’t missed in the opening day win over Purdue. But he sure was in the Week 2 loss to Ohio. Marshall scored just 10 points, its lowest output since midway through the 2011 season … Cato’s rookie year. RB Devon Johnson did his usual damage on the ground, but Michael Birdsong failed to throw a touchdown or complete a pass of more than 14 yards. This 21-10 loss could test the James Madison transfer’s resolve.
North Texas: Long year ahead in Denton
SMU is improved, sure, but an inability to move the ball on the Mustang D is a bad omen for the Mean Green. Andrew McNulty completed less than 50% of his passes, and the offense managed just 3.6 yards per play. The net effect was a 31-13 loss, with the Mustangs pulling away in the fourth quarter. This could be the kind of trying, stressful year that prompts Dan McCarney to step away from coaching.
Rice: Deep backfield
The Owls are going to have success on the ground no matter who’s taking or who is defending. Rice traveled to Austin to play Texas without injured back Jowan Davis. No worries. Led by newcomer Samuel Stewart, who ran for 130 yards and two touchdowns, the Owls held the ball for 44 minutes and outgained the Horns, 462-277. Rice still lost, but the running game won’t be stopped once league play begins.
UTEP: RB Aaron Jones
Jones was the one player that the Miners could least afford to lose for any length of time. Yet, it was Jones who suffered an ankle injury after ripping through the Texas Tech defense for 139 yards on 17 carries. Without No. 29, UTEP lacks offensive pop, and the D is in shambles after giving up 69 points and 674 yards to the Red Raiders.
Western Kentucky: RB Leon Allen
Allen, who rushed for 1,542 yards last season, suffered a gruesome leg injury in Thursday’s win over Louisiana Tech. Tough blow, especially since underrated backup Anthony Wales was already on the shelf. Brandon Doughty threw BB’s against a solid Bulldog secondary, but the Hilltoppers now need redshirt freshman D’Andre Ferby to step up in a hurry to ensure that the offense remains balanced and unpredictable.
Predictions & Picks: How’d We Do?
Straight Up: 18-4 ATS: 10-7
at WKU 41, Louisiana Tech 38
Line: WKU -1, o/u: 64, Prediction: Louisiana Tech 37, Western Kentucky 35
Miami 44, at Florida Atlantic 20
Line: Miami -17.5, o/u: 55, Prediction: Miami 34, Florida Atlantic 24
Kansas State 30, UTSA 3
Line: Kansas State -17, o/u: 52, Prediction: Kansas State 33, UTSA 17
Charlotte 34, Presbyterian College 10
Line: No Line, o/u: No Line, Prediction: Charlotte 28, Presbyterian 17
Texas Tech 69, UTEP 20
Line: Texas Tech -20.5, o/u: 63.5, Prediction: Texas Tech 41, UTEP 27
Austin Peay at Southern Miss
Line: No Line, o/u: No Line, Prediction: Southern Miss 61, Austin Peay 7
Alabama 37, Middle Tennessee 10
Line: Alabama -35, o/u: 56.5, Prediction: Alabama 45, Middle Tennessee 14
Ohio 21, Marshall 10
Line: Marshall -3.5, o/u: 61.5, Prediction: Marshall 34, Ohio 28
Old Dominion 24, Norfolk State 10
Line: No Line, o/u: No Line, Prediction: Old Dominion 45, Norfolk State 21
SMU 31, North Texas 13
Line: SMU -4.5, o/u: 59, Prediction: SMU 35, North Texas 27
Indiana 36, FIU 22
Line: Indiana -7.5, o/u: 55.5, Prediction: Indiana 31, Florida International 21
Texas 42, Rice 28
Line: Texas -15.5, o/u: 51, Prediction: Texas 33, Rice 20