HOUSTON, TX — At Rice Stadium, we perhaps saw changing of the guard as Mike Bloomgren’s Rice Owls dominated Seth Littrell’s Mean Green 20-14 — it was 20-0 at half. Elsewhere, however, we saw some old champions take the lead in the division races.
Charlotte 24, Marshall 13
The revival in the Queen City continues as Will Healy has his 49ers bowl-eligible. After a blip of confidence mid-season that took the niners out of the division race, they have won four-straight league games (NT, Middle, UTEP, Marshall) and put themselves at six wins, with a chance to make it seven against lowly ODU. That offense that was so good is not scoring 50-per, but is still good.
Marshall played themselves out of the driver’s seat in the final couple of weeks for the second-year in a row. The Herd had just beat Tech last week to put themselves in position to return to the league title game but now needs a win over FIU and for FAU to drop their finale at home vs USM.
UAB 20, Louisiana Tech 14
The Blazers have won 18-straight at home and that is a huge reason why they won the title game last season, and are a road win vs UNT away from a second-straight appearance in the title game. They held off a compromised Tech squad at home and got a little help from the same WKU squad that dealt them their first league loss of the year. There could be a tie but UAB is back in the conversation.
Tech needs a little help from North Texas in the finale in Denton and to beat UTSA in Ruston with the J’Mar Smith back to earn the title game spot they had all but sewn up. There could be a three-way tie but just know that Tech lost the opportunity to simply win and get in.
Rice 20, North Texas 14
North Texas did not show up to play. They went down 20-0 and now Mason Fine will not be bowling for the first time in his career.
Bloomgren’s group has been on the cusp of the kinds of wins they have earned the last two weeks, the first road and home game’s of the season. Rice dominated the first half and held back the rally at the end.
WKU 28, Southern Miss 10
Southern Miss has been so good in Hattiesburg that they have almost been two different teams. Alas, the turnover-prone version of the Golden Eagles made an appearance at the Rock and now USM needs some help in the title race.
Western looked like the defense that put the Toppers at the top of the East for a few weeks, and like the one that beat Arkansas and caused a firing over in Fayetvillle.
Middle Tennessee 38, Old Dominion 17
Ho-hum affair as Middle shake off that loss to Rice, and beat up on a team with no offense.
Florida Atlantic 40, UTSA 26
FAU takes care of business in San Antonio. The Owls just need to beat Southern Miss in the finale to seal it all up and will host the title game for the second time in their history.
UTSA was officially eliminated from bowl-contention.
FIU 30, Miami 24
FIU essentially won their bowl game as they became eligible for an actual one. Beating cross-town Miami was supposed to be icing on the cake of a championship-contending team, but it will have to be the bulk of the good times for FIU. Butch Davis did not want to leave the field afterward, as he beat his old team.
New Mexico State 44, UTEP 35
The Miners were involved in a high-scoring game. Who knew? This battle of terrible teams saw formerly one-win NMST get out box-scored in everything except the final score.