Last week was about stemming the tide of disrespect and this week is about turning some of that perception around. North Texas stopped a 12-game losing streak for the league against SEC foes (last win was MTSU vs Mizzou in 2016). There are three big games on the slate this week beginning with the showdown between FAU and UCF, the two big G5 storylines of 2017.
It is 2018, and only one will continue on with the G5 praise. Lots of teams have been picked to be the “next UCF” when UCF is still good. Sure, they lost their coach and a large number of players, but that team is still very tough.
FAU is not the same team it was last year, with a new QB that is hit-or-miss. This game will be test for FAU on the road against a good opponent. Gone is the powerful run game, but it shows some signs. The complimentary pass game is suffering, and although there was that one 471-pass game, there are still questions. If FAU pulls this off, it will be because Lane Kiffin was able to show his qualities as a game-planner.
FIU and Miami had a classic brawl the last time they met. This time things should be more cordial, but anything can happen. If there was a time for FIU to play a team clearly better than them it is now, when they are firing on all cylinders.
Over in Louisiana, LSU and La Tech are playing nice, with a few stories out this week about the cordial relationship between the coaches. The fans are not on the same page, however, and this should be a fight. LSU is playing well and always have talent, but that offense is exploitable and La Tech is one of the league’s best. CUSA Report has been bullish about Tech this season and thought this game was winnable.
This Week’s Slate
All times central
FAU @ UCF Friday 7pm ESPN
Things do not look good but I believe in Lane Kiffin in a big game.
Line: FAU +13.5
Pick: FAU 31 UCF 30
FIU @ Miami 2:30pm ESPN2
The big game for the Golden Panthers in this little battle for Miami. Butch Davis will not win the hearts of the city unless they win a couple of national titles, but it can start by beating the Hurricanes. FIU will show up and give a good effort but there is probably too much talent differential.
Line: FIU +26.5
Pick: FIU 24 Miami 38
Western Kentucky @ Ball State 2pm ESPN3
WKU had a nice outing against Louisville but does anyone outside of Bowling Green trust this team week-to-week? WKU are slight underdogs but really should win this one.
Line: WKU +2.5
Pick: WKU 27 Ball St 24
Va Tech @ ODU 2:30pm CBSSN
This is a mismatch but I think the Monarchs give the Hokies a good first quarter before falling apart.
Line: ODU +27.5
Pick: Tech 50 ODU 17
Charlotte @ UMass 2:30p Eleven Sports Network
Charlotte had a nice win and gets to do a little transitive property fun by playing the team FIU destroyed. I do not know how good Charlotte is, really.
Pick: Charlotte +7.5
Pick: Mass 31 Charlotte 16
Rice @ USM 6pm ESPN+
In preseason, I thought this was a win for Rice. USM has had two weeks to prepare for this one after last week’s cancellation so they may be on even footing. The QB situation is a question mark (again) so we cannot fully believe in this Golden Eagle team, right?
Line: USM -14
Pick: Rice 31 USM 28
La Tech @ LSU 7pm ESPNU
I have no good reasons to pick Tech, but I will pick the Bulldogs.
Line: Tech +20.5
Pick: Tech 24 LSU 19
New Mexico St @ UTEP 6:30p ESPN3
UTEP has a good shot here. This might be the only one this season.
Line: UTEP +4
Pick: NMST 24 UTEP 17
Texas St @ UTSA 6pm ESPN+
They want to change the trophy to something a little less boring. That is about the only thing exciting about this game. UTSA’s offense is still bad but should benefit from a good home crowd.
Line: UTSA -7
Pick: UTSA 28 Texas St 14
NC State @ Marshall 6pm CBSSN
Marshall are slight underdogs. This is the kind of game that the league’s better teams should win. NC State is nothing overly special, and Marshall’s defense is supposed to be good. The advanced numbers point heavily in NC State’s favor, though.
Line: Marshall +5.5
Pick: NC State 38 Marshall 17
UNT @ Liberty 5pm ESPN3
Here is the MGN preview. North Texas has too much firepower for an overmatched Liberty squad. While the Flames are the best offense that NT has faced, the same can be said about the NT pass game and the NT defense.
Line: NT -13
Pick: NT 45-17