Inside Conference USA

Conference USA play is well underway and ITV contributor Patrick Crush provides us with the latest news from around the league.

TEAM SUMMARIES

ARMY (0-5, 0-3): The Black Knights had a tough task this past Saturday as they visited this year's consensus league-favorite TCU.


Todd Berry 
Looking for their first win against a ranked team in 31 years, Army hanged tough, but key penalties negating big offensive plays caught up to the Cadets as they fell 27-0. WR Jacob Murphy had a decent performance on the night, catching 4 passes for 58 yards. This week, the men from West Point will take a trip down south to Louisville on Saturday, as both teams will be looking for their first C-USA win of the young year.

Head Coach Todd Berry on this Saturday's game with Louisville: "They have a very good football team with more of a balance on offense. They have a better running game than in years past. On defense, they really chase the ball well. We have our hands full, especially being on the road."

CINCINNATI (3-2, 1-1): The Bearcats came out ready to play on Saturday as they hosted Southern Mississippi in Nippert Stadium, charging out to a 20-3 lead in the second quarter, but an injury to QB Gino Guidugli put the Cincinnati offense in a funk. The defense held tough, allowing the USM only 20 total yards, but is wasn't enough as the Eagles took the game 22-20. The loss snapped UC's six-game conference win streak. This Saturday, the Bearcats will travel to Birmingham for a game with the Blazers of UAB.

EAST CAROLINA (0-5, 0-2): Despite the Pirates' 0-4 record, 33,250 fans turned up on Tuesday night in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in front of the national television cameras for a game with Houston. Unfortunately for those home crowd fans, East Carolina threw 3 costly interceptions and fell 27-13 to the Cougars. On the bright side of things, RB Marvin Townes had a career-high 118 rushing yards and became the first Pirate this season to pass the 100-yard mark in a game. This week, ECU will host in-state and ACC-foe North Carolina in Greenville for the team's last non-conference game of the year.

HOUSTON (4-1, 1-0): The Cougars went down to Greenville this past week for a rare Tuesday night game with the Pirates of East Carolina. In a total team effort, QB Kevin Kolb threw for 263 yards and 2 touchdowns, SS Will Gulley picked off two ECU passes, and the Cougar defense allowed a mere 200 total yards to the Pirates in a 27-13 victory, their first in C-USA play this season. UH has already begun to prepare for a tough road game at Tulane, which will take place on Saturday at Tad Gormley Stadium in New Orleans.

LOUISVILLE (4-1, 0-1): Opening up their conference slate on Saturday night in Tampa, the Cards came out of the gate hot, scoring on their first possession against South Florida. However, it was a defensive struggle for both teams from there on through the third quarter, but Louisville overcame a 7-point deficit to take a 21-14 lead with 8:19 left in the game. The Bulls forced the game into overtime off a fourth and goal from the 1 with seconds remaining. Both teams scored a touchdown in the first "inning" of overtime, but in the second, QB Stefan LeFors threw an interception, and the Bulls capitalized on the mistake with a field goal on their side in a 31-28 loss for the Cards. LeFors had a good game, throwing for 267 yards and a touchdown while also running another score in during the overtime.


Bobby Petrino (ITV)
UofL looks to rebound off the heartbreaking loss with their game this Saturday at home against Army.

Head Coach Bobby Petrino on the USF game: "I thought offensively, we left some points out on the field in the first half. They have a very good punter who kept us backed up through the third quarter. They came back and scored in the end and pulled it out in overtime. I felt like our players played with a great effort, and it's one of those times where we came up on the wrong end."

MEMPHIS (3-2, 0-2): On a day where former Tiger WR Isaac Bruce had his number 83 jersey retired at halftime of the game, Memphis couldn't comeback from a 17-point deficit to UAB and fell 24-10 on Saturday in the Liberty Bowl. However, QB Danny Wimprine, possibly inspired by Bruce, the All-Pro receiver for the Saint Louis Rams, completed his first 12 passes of the second half, but only managing one score out of it. Some costly turnovers and miscommunications in the defense in the fourth quarter put the game out of reach for UM. This week, the Tigers have a tough task as they finish out their non-conference schedule with a trip to Starkville on Saturday for a matchup with the SEC's Mississippi State.

SOUTH FLORIDA (3-1, 2-0): In front of the second largest crowd to watch a game in South Florida history, the Bulls hosted Louisville in Raymond James Stadium, trying to hold onto their 20-game home win streak. In a wild game, LB Devon Davis intercepted a pass in the second overtime, and K Santiago Gramatica sealed the deal with a 26-yard field goal on their second overtime possession in a 31-29 win, the first home conference win in South Florida's brief, but successful, history. However, the Bulls have a short week this week as they prepare for a huge match-up with TCU on Friday night in Tampa in front of the ESPN cameras.

Head Coach Jim Leavitt on the Friday night game adjustments: "I'm not real big on games during the week because you miss classes. From that point, it's not too great. You also have concerns with high school football, but you don't get the chance to play on ESPN often and there's no way you can turn that unique opportunity down."

SOUTHERN MISS (3-2, 3-0): Down by 4 points heading into the fourth quarter Saturday night in Cincinnati, the Golden Eagles played tough against the Bearcats. But it all came down to true freshman K Darren McCaleb, who earlier in the period hit a 28-yard field goal to bring USM within 1 point. With 1:10 reamaing, McCaleb drilled a 26-yarder, giving the Eagles a 22-20 road win. LB Rod Davis continued his terror on C-USA offenses, recording a game-high 15 tackles in the win. The Eagles will go back on the road again this week, taking on Alabama of the Southeastern Conference in Tuscaloosa.

Head Coach Jeff Bower on the come from behind win against Cincinnati: "It was a good defensive effort, shutting them out for the last 41 minutes. We made plays in the fourth quarter and hit the field goal at the end. But I felt like our players were ready to win that game."

TEXAS CHRISTIAN (5-0, 2-0): Filling in for injured QB Tye Gunn, Brandon Hassell picked up the slack for the 20th-ranked Horned Frogs on Saturday at home against Army. Freshman RB Robert Merrill had another 100-yard performance since replacing the injured starter Lonta Hobbs as TCU pulled off a 27-0 shutout, the first since a 2000 game against Rice. The win was the Frogs' 15th in their last 16 overall games. On Friday, TCU will take a trip to Tampa as they go to face one of the upstart teams in the conference with a game against South Florida.

Head Coach Gary Patterson on Friday night's game with USF: "Any time you're the traveling team, you can only take 65 players and you got some banged up guys playing on a short week. South Florida is a good team who beat a very talented Louisville team. We're looking forward to the challenge. I don't mind the Friday night game outside of the high school regular season and outside of the state of Texas, where high school football is big."


J.P. Losman (TU)
TULANE (3-2, 1-1): Coming off an embarrassing 63-18 loss last week at Texas, the Green Wave had this past weekend off. However, there was some entertaining news off the field this week for TU fans. The athletic department announced that they are sponsoring a website in order to promote senior QB J.P. Losman, that can be accessed through the team's official website. Also announced last week were ceremonies for the school's homecoming game with Houston this Saturday. The MTV network will present the popular hip-hop group "OutKast" for a special performance during halftime of the game, while also basing some other television programs around the New Orleans area that weekend.

 

UAB (2-3, 1-1): On Saturday in Memphis, QB Darrell Hackney shined again, throwing for 231 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including a 57-yard fourth quarter bomb to WR Nick Coon to seal the deal in a 24-10 road win over the Tigers. The Blazer defense pressured the Memphis offense, allowing only 89 yards rushing, while the offense was helped even more by the key penalties made by Memphis to keep UAB drives alive in the win, which snapped a three game losing streak. The Blazers will have a tough test on Saturday as they face a mad Cincinnati team, coming off a heartbreaking loss against Southern Miss.

PATRICK CRUSH'S THREE-STAR GAMES OF THE WEEK

THREE STARS: Texas Christian (5-0, 2-0) vs. South Florida (3-1, 2-0) (Friday, 8:00 PM)

TWO STARS: Houston (4-1, 1-0) vs. Tulane (3-2, 1-1) (Saturday, 2:30 PM)

ONE STAR: Cincinnati (3-2, 1-1) vs. UAB (2-3, 1-1) (Saturday, 4:00 PM)


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