Bailey's Take on C-USA
From the Anchor Desk
Friday, September 28, 2001
By Brian Bailey
Sports Anchor of WNCT-TV 9
Conference USA Struggling,
But Good News on the Horizon
On the field,
Conference USA's difficulties continue. Southern Miss is the lone unbeaten
in the league. East Carolina struggles with a Division I-AA opponent,
while TCU loses to one.
Then the league's lone
ranked team, No. 25 Louisville, travels to Illinois and gets blasted by the
The good news, though,
comes off the field. The Tampa Tribune reported this week that South Florida
might enter the league in football a year early, in 2002. Marshall is
expected to be invited in, paving the way for ABC to broadcast a C-USA title
The league’s athletic
directors will meet during the first week of October. A meeting of the
conference’s school presidents will follow that. If everything goes as
planned, C-USA will get the title game the league dearly covets.
With national exposure
comes better bowl opportunities. Conference USA has done a great job in
securing bowl opportunities, but in the present bowl pecking order, it is
more rewarding to finish third in the Big East or in the ACC than it is to
finish first in C-USA.
Three league games dot
the schedule this week as UAB travels to Southern Miss, Louisville hosts
Memphis and TCU visits Lone Star State rival Houston.
Outside the conference,
Tulane entertains Southern in the inaugural Big Easy Classic while ECU and
Army have opportunities to win some prestige for the league against a pair
of Big East opponents. The Pirates sail to Syracuse and the Cadets
march to Boston College.
Cincinnati, which lost on the road last Saturday to
bitter in-state rival Miami (OH) of the MAC, has a bye-week.
This match-up at The
Rock will go a long way in determining the Conference USA champion and the
team that heads to Memphis for the Liberty Bowl.
Pirate fans have to
root for ECU’s nemesis in this one. With the Pirates not playing UAB this
season, East Carolina needs a Golden Eagle win so the Pirates can control
their own destiny.
The Blazers took two of
the league’s weekly honors this week. Senior QB Jeff Aaron completed 17 of
23 passes for 187 yards and a pair of first-quarter touchdowns and was named
C-USA offensive player of the week. Kicker Rhett Gallego kicked seven extra
points and two field goals and was named C-USA special teams player of the
UAB hasn't allowed a TD
in eight quarters at Legion Field this season. The only previous meeting
with Southern Miss ended when the Golden Eagles won a double-overtime game
at Legion Field.
These teams had played
14 consecutive years before not playing last season.
The Cardinals need a
better showing from quarterback Dave Ragone this week. The junior
quarterback recorded his second 300-yard game of the season, but also threw
three interceptions against the Illini. The Cardinals running game came up
with just 29 yards on 25 carries.
Louisville has won 10
of its past 12 games against Memphis. Each of the past four meetings has
been decided by three points or less. A Louisville touchdown pass from Chris
Redman to Lavell Boyd decided their last meeting, in 1999, with 16 seconds
The Tigers are coming
off their second straight win, a 17-9 win over future C-USA rival South
Florida on Saturday. Travis Anglin leads C-USA in pass efficiency. He has
completed 30-of-41 passes for 295 yards and 4 TDs and has not been
intercepted. His rating is 165.8, nearly 20 percentage points higher than
Louisville's Dave Ragone.
Christian at Houston
The Cougars will be
playing their third straight game against a former Southwest Conference foe
when first-year conference member TCU visits on Saturday. The former SWC
rivals met every year from 1976 to '95, but this is their first meeting
since the SWC disbanded after the 1995 season.
Both teams are coming
off of losses. The Cougars played 5th ranked Texas tough for a
while, before being blown out 53-26. TCU was upset by Division IAA member
Northwestern State of Louisiana. That loss snapped TCU’s 11 game winning
streak at home.
East Carolina at
I-AA power William & Mary was able to hang tough for a
half last week before quarterback David Garrard shifted the Pirate attack
into a higher gear in the third quarter to break the game open.
ECU will be the underdog Saturday in the always-hostile
Carrier Dame. Syracuse has won two in a row, including its thorough
domination of Auburn a week ago.
The Orangemen will go to their power running game early
and often in an attempt to exploit the Pirates' suspect rush defense.
ECU Defensive Coordinator Tim Rose's unit will try to plug up the middle in
what is expected to be a very physical game.
The Pirates' high-octane offense will counter-attack
with a balanced scheme designed to set up opportunities for what Head Coach
Steve Logan calls "explosion plays".
The Black Knights
really struggled last week in that 55-3 loss to UAB. Six turnovers were the
difference in the game. Army is a big underdog again this week. Last year’s
game between these two was close until the second half, when the Eagles ran
away with a 55-17 victory in Todd Berry’s debut as the Army coach.
Southern at Tulane
For the Green Wave,
it’s the start of a brand new, in-state rivalry with Southern University
from Baton Rouge. It’s the debut of the Big Easy Classic at the Superdome.
Things aren’t getting any better for the Wave on defense. In four games,
Tulane has given up 169 points. They are giving up 572.2 yards per game,
including 293 per game on the ground.
Brian Bailey's C-USA Power Rankings 
1. Southern Miss.… Golden Eagles face huge test
2. UAB…. Early battle for first has Pirate Fans pulling for USM.
3. East Carolina… Pirates rise to the top with a win at Syracuse.
4. Louisville…Loss to Illinois really hurts national ranking.
5. Memphis…Tigers look better with Tommy West at helm.
6. Cincinnati….Another blow to Conference USA, Bearcats fall to Miami
7. TCU… Here’s hoping the Frogs were better then they looked last week.
8. Houston…Played Texas tough for a while.
9. Army… Cadets still have bigger things to think about.
10. Tulane… Given up 169 points in four games, that’s an average of 42 per
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02/23/2007 01:19:34 AM