As Conference USA moves into week 4, some big road tests highlight the conference slate. Three teams go into Big 10 stadiums as North Texas prepares to take on Iowa, Middle Tennessee will take on Illinois, and Southern Miss goes up to Lincoln to take on Nebraska. The Rice Owls step out of conference to take on a Big 12 opponent in the Baylor Bears.
No team in C-USA remains undfeated, and 8 teams sit at 2-1 overall. Two teams have one win, and three teams are still looking for that first win overall.
The conference dropped a few tough games against out of conference opponents last week. UTEP took down New Mexico State and Southern Miss won at Texas State. FIU and Marshall won handily. Louisiana Tech took Kansas State into three overtimes before falling at a very tough place to get a win.
Here is a look at what is coming up in conference this week:
Louisiana Tech (1-2) Up Next: vs FIU
-Louisiana Tech leads the conference in total offense, and Jeff Driskel is really finding his stride in leading the offense. Driskel threw for 318 yards against a tough Kansas State defense in Manhattan, and took the Wildcats to the edge of being upset before falling in triple overtime. FIU is 2-1 but hasn't faced an offense like the one they'll be up against Saturday.
Southern Miss (2-1) Up Next : at Nebraska
-Southern Miss won a huge game on the road at Texas State 56-50. Jalen Richard, RB, led the way and all of FBS in the rushing department with 230 yards and 4 TD's. The huge day capped an impressive offensive performance from the Eagles who will look to get a win in Lincoln for the first time since 2004. Junior QB Nick Mullens is 2nd in the conference with 8 passing TD's. USM has the offense to keep this game close. If they can get some turnovers they certainly have a chance to make this one interesting.
UTEP (1-2) Up Next: vs Incarnate Word
-UTEP survived an overtime game with New Mexico State on the road, one week after losing their star RB Aaron Jones. The Miners have a chance to get healthy against Incarnate Word at home. Interestingly, UTEP is the last team to host a home game in FBS this season, after having their first three on the road. The chance to be 2-2 heading into conference play is encouraging to the Miners after the tough start.
UTSA (0-3) Up Next: vs Colorado State
-No one has had a more difficult start than UTSA. The Roadrunner have had to play at Arizona, at home against Kansas State, then at Oklahoma State last week. Saturday, they host a Colorado State team that has lost back to back games in OT. After arguably the toughest non-conference schedule in all of football, UTSA will look to regroup in conference and they are hoping a big home win will help springboard them and help them build some confidence.
Rice (2-1) Up next: at Baylor
-Rice gained their first in-conference victory by beating North Texas 38-24 last weekend. The Owls have a prolific offense that is putting up some big numbers. Jowan Davis rushed for 102 yards, and QB Driphus Jackson threw for 373 yards and 3 TD's in the win. Rice will have to do a lot of scoring to keep up with Baylor, and expect a wild shootout in this one.
North Texas (0-2) Up next: at Iowa
-The Mean Green have only played two games, and kicked conference season off with a loss at Rice. The offense was able to move the ball but the defense gave up a ton of yards against the Owls. They will have another tough game as they head north to take on the Hawkeyes who are always tough at home. WR Carlos Harris has led the offensive charge for North Texas. He had 8 catches for 193 yards and 2 TD's last week against Rice.
Middle Tennessee (2-1) Up next: at Illinois
-Middle Tennessee gave a rude welcome to Charlotte last Saturday as they rolled up 73 points at home against the 49ers. MTSU QB Brent Stockstill leads the league in TD passes with 9 and is completing almost 70% of his passes as a freshman in his first three games. RB Jordan Parker also rushed for 142 yards last weekend. They will need every bit of offense and then some as they head to take on the Fighting Illini, and hope to be able to pull off the upset at the Big 10 school.
Western Kentucky (2-1) Up next: vs Miami (OH)
-The Hilltoppers are anxious to get back on the field after losing a heartbreaker at Indiana 38-35 last Saturday in a game they were expecting to win. Western Kentucky is having no problems on the offensive side of the ball. Senior QB Brandon Doughty continues to put up huge numbers. Last weekend, he had 350 yards passing before HALFTIME, the third time he has done that making him the only QB to accomplish that in the past 10 years. He has thrown for at least 400 yards in four of his last five games.
FIU (2-1) Up next: at Louisiana Tech
-FIU's conference leading defense in rushing and total yards will be put to the test against Louisiana Tech, the conference's leading overall yardage leader. The Panthers are one of the league's most improved teams, as they have recruited well and the talent upgrade has been obvious this season. They get a chance to go up against one of the conference's best teams and we will have a lot better idea of where they are after this week.
Marshall (2-1) Up next: at Kent State
-Marshall is another who went with a true freshmen at QB and got a spark offensively last week against Norfolk State. The Thundering Herd are trying to fill the void of Rakeem Cato and have found something in Chase Litton who threw for 270 yards and 4 TD's. He will face a little stiffer test in Kent State on the road, but has the chance to settle in before conference play really picks up the next week. Look for this to be another big game offensively for Marshall.
Old Dominion (2-1) Up next: vs Appalachian State
-Back in the days of the 1AA football, these two teams were top dogs of their division. Now, they square off as FBS opponents. The Monarchs are usually known for their high powered offense, but are lead this season by LB T.J. Ricks who leads the conference with 29 tackles. This will be an important out of conference game for ODU, as they seek some mometum heading into conference play after falling to NC State handily last week.
Florida Atlantic (0-3) Up next: at Charlotte
-FAU has fallen on some hard times and looks to get in the win column as they head up to Charlotte for their first conference game. FAU had a nice offensive output from Jeff's brother Jason Driskell, who threw for 385 yards last week. Unfortunately, FAU just couldn't put points on the board and lost at home in a game they should have won against Buffalo. Now, they look to right the ship against a team that gave up 73 points last week.
Charlotte (2-1) Up next: vs FAU
-After being greeted rudely into the conference by giving up 73 to MTSU, Charlotte returns home in hopes of earning their first win in C-USA against FAU. Charlotte runs an up tempo offense but couldn't keep their defense off the field against MTSU, who simply wore them down in the contest. They are hoping a return home is just what the doctor ordered.
Players of the week:
Here is a full list of C-USA players of the week up to this point:
Offensive Player of the Week -- Sept. 7 -- Ray Lawry, RB, Old Dominion; Sept. 14 -- Brandon Doughty, QB, WKU; Jalen Richard, RB, Southern Miss.
Defensive Player of the Week -- Sept. 7 -- Tiquan Lang, DB, Marshall; Sept. 14 -- Marcus Ward, S, WKU; Sept. 21 -- Jeremy Cutrer, CB, Middle Tennessee.
Special Teams Player of the Week -- Sept. 7 -- Blake Brewer, K, Charlotte; Sept. 14 -- Kylen Towner, KR/PR, WKU; Sept. 21 -- Jaquan White, PR, UTEP.
Here are the updated C-USA volleyball standings: LINK
Southern Miss leads all volleyball teams with 13 wins
The Men's basketball TV schedule has been released: LINK The Conference Championships will be held in Birmingham again this year.