Today we figure it all out.
If Middle Tennessee can conjure up some of that old Brent Stockstill magic and produce a win over the league’s best team at home in Murfreesboro, they will earn the chance to do it again next week — provided they get a little help from Marshall.
FIU still controls their own destiny, and James Morgan and company will try to seal things at home against an offensively-challenged Marshall squad that has a really good defense backing them.
If FIU wants to play in Birmingham, they need to beat Marshall at home. Win-and-you-are-in games are the best.
Let us go through the league slate today and think about what is at stake:
(all times Central)
Marshall at FIU 11am Stadium on Facebook
Marshall lost an ugly game to Southern Miss and that prevents this from being a true semi-final game for the league title in the East. FIU simply needs a win to seal it all up. James Morgan can make a great case for himself to be league offensive player of the year if he can overcome a quality Herd defense and put his team in the championship game.
Line: Marshall -3.5 O/U: 52.5
Pick: I like Morgan and FIU 29 Marshall 24
WKU at Louisiana Tech 11am CBS Sports Network
There was a time where this was the premier game of the league season. Now it is merely a question about Mike Sanford. The WKU head man beat UTEP convincingly last week and that went a long way toward keeping his job safe for another season. Beating Tech will guarantee him another shot at it next season, but a loss is questionable.
Line: Tech -10.5 O/U: 49.5
Pick: Tech 31 WKU 10
ODU at Rice 12pm ESPN+
Old Dominion had a bad season but there were memories made. The Monarchs beat Virginia Tech at Foreman Field and then capped off the old stadium’s final season (in the current iteration) with an epic comeback vs North Texas and a blowout win over VMI. Rice will close out Mike Bloomgren’s first season at home, and things do not look decidedly better in Houston.
Line: ODU -7.5 O/U: 61.5
Pick: ODU 34 Rice 17
Southern Miss at UTEP 2pm ESPN+
Southern is playing for a bowl game invite, while UTEP is looking to get its first win at home since 2016. Jack Abraham is good enough to beat this decent UTEP defense, but final games are always question marks.
Line: USM -13.5 O/U: 45.5
Pick: Southern Miss 31 UTEP 21
UAB at Middle Tennessee 2pm ESPN3
UAB can pick its opponent and the venue by winning or losing this game. The easiest path is winning this game and hosting FIU in the title game next week. Beyond that, it could be either FIU or Middle depending on what happens at kick off.
Middle is good enough — thanks to Stockstill — to beat UAB but the Blazers are for real, at least when it comes to playing league opponents. TAMU showed the limits of ball-control offense. MTSU has the kind of offense that can reach those NT heights — where they rattle off big yards and quick points.
Line: UAB -3 O/U: 51.5
Pick: UAB 29 MTSU 28
Charlotte at FAU 5pm Stadium
FAU lost a tough game on the road to UTSA — they even had Mason Fine out for a few series. Ultimately, freshman QB mistakes did them in. The showdown wasn’t quite the one we hoped for but it was an entertaining game. This game should be a farewell to Devin Singletary in his final home game as he sets some more records and everyone has a good time.
Brad Lambert is coaching his final game as the head man at Charlotte after being fired last week. That will not change the outcome too much.
Line: FAU -17 O/U: 54.5
Pick: FAU 41 Charlotte 17
North Texas at UTSA 6pm ESPN+
In the five meetings of these two teams, the game has come down to the final drive in four of them and the underdog has won three times. UTSA beat UNT in Apogee Stadium in 2013, preventing that NT team from getting into the conference title game in just the third year of full-time UTSA football. Last season Mason Fine drove his offense 98-yards in under a minute with no time outs to beat UTSA 29-26.
Unfortunately, this is the most lopsided matchup of this series since UTSA had the clear better team in 2016, Mason Fine’s freshman year.
Line: NT -24.5 O/U 51.5
Pick: North Texas 45 UTSA 6