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Bailey's Take on C-USA

From the Anchor Desk
Friday, September 21, 2001

By Brian Bailey
Sports Anchor of WNCT-TV 9


After Last Week's Tragic Interruption,
Conference USA Shifts Back into Gear


Louisville, which had its game with Illinois postponed last Saturday, has a definite advantage over the rest of Conference USA this weekend.

While other league teams are still scrambling to reschedule postponed games or working out the logistics to accommodate shuffled future dates, the 25th ranked Cardinals will get another chance to take on the Illini on Saturday.

Illinois moved its game at Michigan to September 29 to facilitate the rapid make-up game.

Also on the C-USA schedule this week are Army at UAB, Cincinnati at Miami (Ohio), William & Mary at East Carolina, Texas at Houston, South Florida at Memphis, Southern Miss at Louisiana-Lafayette, Northwestern (La.) State at TCU and Central Florida at Tulane.

Here's our take on the match-ups:

William & Mary at East Carolina

At East Carolina, the Pirates are getting set for a Tribe team that is ranked 19th nationally among I-AA teams.

ECU was a double-digit favorite in its opener with Wake Forest, and lost 21-19. This team doesn’t want to let that happen again.

“The Wake game was a little different,” said Coach Steve Logan. “We knew that the new staff with the Deacons would make a difference. I really don’t think that we let down against Wake Forest, and I certainly think we’ll be ready to play this week.”

Coach Logan has compared this past week with the 1999 floods that hit Eastern North Carolina. He says the key then, and the key now is for his team and coaching staff to stay flexible.

(25) Louisville at Illinois

This is another “coming out” game for Conference USA. The Cardinals need a win to stay in the national rankings. Thanks to the Illini’s schedule shuffling, Louisville should have a good chance in this game.

Illinois won the last meeting between these two teams. Kurt Kittner fired four touchdown passes in the 41-36 Illini win.

Louisville, though, won the last time the game was played in Champaign. The Cards whipped Illinois 35-9 in John L. Smith’s first win as the Louisville head coach.

Louisville QB Dave Ragone has completed 53 of 88 passes for 858 yards in three games. He's one of the nation's most talented secrets, and a win with a big stats day should help him earn some national attention.

Army at UAB

In this time of patriotism, our conference should be very proud to have Army as a member.

Former ECU offensive coordinator Todd Berry is learning to adjust after the tragedies. That may be the key to this game, whether the Black Knights can keep their concentration in light of what is happening all around the world.

The only other game between these two teams came last November, when UAB wrapped up its 7-4 season with a 27-7 victory. UAB rushed for 209 yards against Army last year and held Army to 47 yards on 32 carries.

The contest carries particular significance among the day's games because it is the only intra-league game on the slate.

Cincinnati at Miami (Ohio)

This is the 106th meeting between these two teams and it’s the sixth most-often-played rivalry in college football. These two play for the Victory Bell each season, with Miami leading in the series 55-43-7.

The Bearcats are worried about the Miami defense, which played well in losses to Iowa and Michigan.

The Bearcats will be trying to claim their third consecutive win in Oxford for the first time in series history.

(5) Texas at Houston

Talk about a game that could put the league on the map, this is certainly it. However, the Cougars are 32-point underdogs.

Houston will be lucky just to stay in the game, and the last thing the Cougars needed was for Texas to gain extra motivation.  But that may be exactly what UH officials have given Mack Brown's team by clumsily handling some of the seating arrangements for the contest.

About 4,150 Longhorn fans are in a tizzy over Houston's announcement that the temporary bleachers in which they were designated to sit in Robertson Stadium have been declared unsafe.

UH officials said ticketholders whose seats have been eliminated can watch the nationally televised game on a jumbo Diamond Vision screen in the Cougars' basketball arena, Hofheinz Pavilion, and that refunds would be made for all of the lost seats.

The gesture was not enough to appease UT athletic director DeLoss Dodds.

"I am in shock. I am appalled," he was quoted as saying in an AP wire story which ran on

This is the first time Texas and Houston have played in Houston since 1995. Texas won last year in Austin, 48-0, as the Longhorns defense scored three times.

This will be Houston's first game in 21 days. The Cougars had an open date on Sept. 8th, and last week's game at Georgia was postponed.

South Florida at Memphis

This is a preview of what will be a regular C-USA match-up in the future, with the Bulls set to join the league in football in 2003.

South Florida comes into this game after winning its first ever Division IA game, beating Pitt 35-26 two weeks ago.

Memphis has invited all active military members and their immediate families to the game at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium on Saturday. The Tigers are favored, but the Bulls impressed many with their win over the Panthers.

Southern Miss at Louisiana-Lafayette

Southern Miss has won five straight games in the series with Louisiana-Lafayette, formerly known as Southwestern Louisiana.

The Golden Eagles have shut out the Ragin' Cajuns in each of the last two games, 48-0 in 1999 and 55-0 in 1998. It will be the first game for Southern Miss since defeating Oklahoma State 17-9 on September 1.

The Ragin’ Cajuns have ten starters back on defense, and hope to play the Golden Eagles a little tougher this season.

Southern Miss leads in the all-time series 36-11-1.

Northwestern State at TCU

TCU has its home opener with Northwestern (La.) State coming to town. This is the first ever meeting between these two teams.

The Horned Frogs have won 11 consecutive games at home and have allowed just 36 points in three games so far this season.

Northwestern State is ranked No. 24 in the I-AA poll.

Central Florida at Tulane

While Marshall seems to be the hot name as far as C-USA expansion is concerned, Central Florida is a school that should get consideration. The Orlando television market is enough to make the Knights attractive.

The Green Wave hasn’t stopped anybody this year. Central Florida has tough losses to Syracuse and Clemson to date. After watching Tulane against ECU, I have to think that the Wave might have its hands full again this weekend.

Brian Bailey's C-USA Power Rankings [092101]

1. Louisville… Biggest game of the year to date this week at Illinois.
2. Southern Miss… Should Rage on Cajuns this week.
3.TCU… Frogs are big favorites against Louisiana Directional.
4. East Carolina… Division 1AA Tribe presents problems.
5. Cincinnati… Should ring Victory Bell this week.
6. UAB… Blazers host key league game this weekend.
7. Memphis… Can’t overlook South Florida for Louisville.
8. Houston… Cougars will have long day with Longhorns.
9. Army… Cadets have bigger things to think about. All of us should be Army fans!
10. Tulane… The Wave has given up 169 points in three games.

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02/23/2007 01:19:32 AM

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