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2018: CUSA Week 7 Preview

The Game of the Week is quite clearly the Middle Tennessee @ FIU game on beIN Sports. Middle controls their destiny, but as with any division game, a loss throws everything into chaos. FIU is 1-0 in the league entering in this game. There will be rain. There will be hits on MTSU QB Brent Stockstill. It should be a fun one.

Elsewhere, the West has a nice matchup between Southern Miss — also just 1-0 in league play — and North Texas, the quality team that is struggling a bit. The advanced numbers say NT only played one poor game these last two weeks — against UTEP — and rightly has only one loss. However, the loss at home to Tech and the subsequent poor game against UTEP mean that Mean Greeners feel like NT is on a two-game losing streak.

UAB and LA Tech travel to Texas to take on some relatively poor squads that are both struggling offensively. We will see if there is any hangover from last week’s battle.

Marshall will get a chance to right their ship against a dangerous ODU team, while WKU will beat up on Charlotte (probably). Let us look closer at each of this week’s league matchups.

East Standings

  1. Middle 2-0, 3-2
  2. FIU 1-0, 3-2
  3. Marshall 1-1, 3-2
  4. FAU 1-1, 3-3
  5. Charlotte 1-1, 2-3
  6. WKU 0-1, 1-4
  7. ODU 0-3, 1-5

West Standings

  1. UAB 2-0, 4-1
  2. UTSA 2-0, 3-3
  3. USM 1-0, 2-2
  4. LT 1-1, 3-2
  5. North Texas 1-1, 5-1
  6. Rice 0-2, 1-5
  7. UTEP 0-2, 0-6

All times central

UAB @ Rice Noon ESPN+

The all-time series between these two teams is tied, with the last meeting coming last year in which UAB dominated at home 52-21. AJ Erdley notched a league record for completion percentage in that one — 20/21 or 95.2% — and he could use a little help after starting 0-12 against Tech last week.

Rice wants to be like UAB and dominate the run game. UAB lead the league in rushing at 237.6 per game. This one should be over quickly, in both time and score. So much running and Rice will have an even tougher time trying to pass than they did against UTSA.

Line: UAB -16.5 O/U: 52.5
Pick: UAB is going to squeeze the life out of the Owls. UAB 35 Rice 3

Southern Miss @ North Texas 1pm ESPN3

The last time these two met the roles were reversed. NT had a young squad of talent and went in hoping to pull off an upset. Now, Southern Miss has a good offensive squad — though not as talented — and is looking to pull off a minor upset. Jalen Guyton has not had a great year — it has been okay — certainly not the season we all expected. He had a breakout game against USM in 2017, torching that talented secondary for 14 grabs and 211 yards.

The Golden Eagles have JUCO replacements but have struggled. North Texas’ offense has been relatively inefficient — especially since losing RB Loren Easly to injury for the year. This could be the breakout game for everyone.

Meanwhile, Jack Abraham is the kind of accurate passer USM has not had since Austin Davis. Abraham is on pace to break Davis’ school mark of 69% completion. USM WR Quez Watkins has had a great season and has the talent to win the one-on-one battles NT likes to put their corners in. Nate Brooks vs Watkins will be fun to watch.

Line: NT -9.5 O/U: 55
Pick: North Texas takes advantage of a shaky secondary. The defense feats on the one-dimensional Golden Eagles. NT 44 USM 26

Marshall @ Old Dominion 230pm Stadium/FB

Blake LaRussa has been tossing some beautiful passes to Travis Fulgham and Jonathan Duhart. Marshall has a good defense but there is no telling what kind of offense they will bring.

Head Coach Doc Holliday suggested that QB Alex Thompson will be much better after a game under his belt, but we will see. He completed 50% of his passes and threw an interception. The potential is there, but this is a game where Marshall will have to score often.

Fortunately, ODU has been giving up lots of points and yards.

Line: Marshall -3.5 O/U: 59.5
Pick: ODU gets their first conference win in the friendly confines. ODU 35 Marshall 31

Western Kentucky @ Charlotte 230pm ESPN+

This is only the second-ever meeting between these programs. Last year WKU won 45-14. These teams are much closer to each other this season. WKU has started three different QBs and has had varying levels of success. Steven Duncan nearly won the game for WKU against Marshall and should have enough for Charlotte. The Hilltopper defense has been relatively stout. That does not bode well for the 49ers.

Line: WKU -7.5 O/U: 43.5
Pick: WKU 27 Charlotte 13

Louisiana Tech @ UTSA 6pm ESPN+

This series has some underrated bad blood. It has been chippy between these two in every game. Last year Tech won 20-6 against an anemic UTSA offense. This game pits yet another terrible UTSA offense — this time missing QB Dalton Sturm — against a Tech team trying to regain its confidence after losing in convincing fashion at home to UAB.

Tech went from a high — beating NT in Denton — to a low — blown out by UAB in Ruston — and will now try to figure out of the offense is actually good. UTSA has a good defensive line, but a weak secondary.

Let we forget, UTSA are 2-0 in the conference and also controls their fate. Oddsmakers favor Tech heavily but anything can happen in the unfriendly confines of the Alamodome. Rice gifted UTSA four turnovers and that propelled an otherwise poor offense to 20 points. J’Mar Smith is known to turn the ball over, but he should be fine against this UTSA defense. Frank Wilson spent the weak talking about improving the offense which hit historic lows against Rice. There is no easy answer. The line cannot open holes or keep any of the young, inexperienced QBs upright.

Line: LT -10.5 O/U: 44.5
Pick: Tech rights the ship and wins going away. LT 35 UTSA 6

Middle Tennessee @ FIU 630pm beIN

The game of the week sees Rick Stockstill’s Blue Raiders in a surprising position. Middle has always gone as QB Brent Stockstill goes but they struggled especially to begin the season. The two wins over the division favorites look great, but the path to those wins suggests Middle is not as good as their record states. A final drive with 4th down conversions and a roll-left, throw-back pass to get the two-pointer against FAU is all that separates a win from a loss.

Marshall ran all over Middle in the first half last week. We will see if MTSU can play a full game this week against a solid FIU team on a likely rainy night.

It is difficult to pick against Middle right now, but the venue, the bye week FIU had, and the weather have me leaning FIU

Line: FIU -3 O/U: 56.5
Pick: FIU 28 MTSU 27

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