We are in the midst of the most difficult part of them most unusual season of college football in about 80 years. The pandemic has put a strain on rosters and resources where a normal college football season puts a strain on the mental and physical make up.
Rice has played the one game, UAB has played six. That a league championship can be contested is nearly laughable. Hosting a title game is mostly about achieivng a sense of normalcy and (probably) contractual obligations than it is a competition of (relative) equals.
All that said, we know who the good teams are. We also know who most of the coaches are and who they aren’t: Scotty Walden left USM’s interim gig for Austin Peay. More on this later. Let’s reset:
The shocker was that ULL (ahem, Louisiana) beat UAB in Birmingham on the Friday night weekend opener. Less of a shock was that FIU was beaten by Jacksonville State. It makes the MTSU win over FIU a little more understandable and tells us pretty definitively that FIU is bad.
For UAB, we learned little. The defense was monstrous, and the special teams was the big culprit –giving up a nigh-unforgivable 100-yard kick return right before the half. The Blazer offense struggled, but that was always going to be the weakness of this team. The pass game in particular could not compliment Spencer Brown and they were beaten because of it.
Marshall beat FAU 20-9, in a thorough win where MU did not play well. The defense dominated FAU and even though the Herd did not pull away until later, they had control of the game and never looked like they were going to lose this. Undefeated and ranked. You like to see it.
Charlotte beat UTEP in El Paso in a high scoring game. It was a tough trip out to El Paso all the way from Charlotte — I believe it is the longest trip in the league. The Miners were spunky, but couldn’t defend.
Middle beat Rice 40-34 that featured a four-bounce-off-the-upright kick from the Owls. It was the kind of thing that goes viral. S/O to Matthew Brune for screen-capping that. We thought Rice was done with those close-losses that show you how good the team can be. But I suppose we can give them some slack considering they had not played a game all season. Middle struggled — sure they scored 40, but again, Rice had not played a game all year.
WKU beat UT Chattanooga 13-10 and the less said about this game that had a controversial ending the better. This is the kind of season we thought WKU might have last season before they were surprisingly good and competitive. This is an awful year for the Toppers.
Liberty destroyed USM 56 – 35. Liberty is a good little team and USM is in a bad place. Scotty Walden left this situation — and while I do not blame him for making the best decision for him and his family I will note that the entire concept of a team sport is to sacrifice some aspect of your individual benefit for the greater good of the team. The Austin Peay job may not have been open when this season ended but there would have been other jobs to apply for. Walden had every opportunity to lead an FBS program on an interim basis and in-effect have a public interview session. Again, I do not blame him for taking the Peay job, but I do not respect it either.
UTSA won 27-26 vs Louisiana Tech. The Bulldogs had a big lead in this one and UTSA mounted a comeback on the strength of National Player of the Week winner Sincere McCormick’s running. LT is not a good team, and UTSA was pretty inefficient offensively and so I was not as enthralled as some viewers — I saw a tweet calling this a top-5 UTSA all-time win. It was a nice comeback but there are questions for both teams here. I did not love the coaching moves by Tech in the late stages but there is not much to do with a line that is rivaling the Dallas Cowboys’.
This Week (Tentative)
Marshall and FIU on CBSSN. This used to be a good game in the Before Times and will most likely be Marshall handing an easy 35 and keeping FIU close to scoreless. . . never mind it is cancelled. FIU has concerns about COVID and Marshall has to keep its powder dry.
UTSA visits FAU. UTSA had a big win vs Tech and FAU has struggled early in Willie Taggert’s debut season. Playing at home in paradise may be the salve. More importantly, playing a team not nearly the equal of Marshall will help tremendously.
North Texas was scheduled to travel to UTEP this week but it was cancelled — er, postponed. The city of El Paso has been so ravaged by COVID cases that patients are being transported to San Antonio-area hospitals. This makes sense. This is NT’s second postponed game.
Rice will travel to USM for a game on ESPN3. USM seems like the perfect victim for a Rice Owl team that is raring to get some positivity early in their season. USM is on their second interim coach.
UAB visits Ruston to take on Louisiana Tech. This is far from the epic CUSA West matchup that it was the last couple of seasons, but it is still going to be fun following the various twitter accounts for both programs. UAB should win this one going away if their offense can throw it. They are -10 faves.
Charlotte visits Duke, in one of those games that matters much more regionally than it does nationally. This is a great opportunity for the 49ers. Duke are -10 favorites on ACC network.
WKU is scheduled to be the latest CUSA victim for BYU late on ESPN.
Actually, UTEP traveled to Charlotte last week. It was the 49ers home opening in this crazy football season.