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Bailey's Take on Conference USA

From the Anchor Desk
Friday, October 12, 2001

By Brian Bailey
Sports Anchor of WNCT-TV 9


Conference USA Gets Just
What it Deserves in Bowl Run


We were hoping that we’d be talking about some big Conference USA wins by this point in the season.

Unfortunately, that has not been the case.

That’s why we can complain all that we want about the league’s bowl situation, but it won’t do any good.

Do you realize that the 4th place team in the ACC goes to a better bowl then the C-USA champion? It’s not the Micron PC Bowl anymore, rather a new edition of the Tangerine Bowl.

Either way, the only way the Pirates and Conference USA can improve their bowl situation is to win some big games.

So far, it just hasn’t happened.

A perfect season might have given us a couple of Top 25 rankings in the league. I believe East Carolina, Southern Mississippi and Louisville are all capable of breaking into the national rankings.

The Cardinals were there for a week, but then stumbled badly against Illinois. Southern Miss slips by UAB 3-0, and then falls to Memphis.

The Pirates have losses to both Wake Forest and North Carolina. These are two teams that were expected to finish in the lower half of the ACC standings. I think the Deacons will still finish there, but the Tar Heels may go bowling.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many big non-conference games left on the schedules of C-USA's teams: Memphis plays at Tennessee in November; Southern Miss makes up its game with Alabama at the end of November; and Houston is at Georgia on December 1st.

For the most part, one team will have to pretty much run the table, win the league title, and hope to get a national ranking before the bowl season.

But as even as C-USA's teams appear to be, that may prove to be a difficult assignment as the league's members start beating up on each other down the stretch.

Four league games are on Saturday's slate.  Memphis is at Houston, Cincinnati travels to UAB, Tulane hosts TCU and Army, looking for its second straight win, entertains ECU.

Louisville and Southern Miss skip Saturday in preparation for their Tuesday night showdown on ESPN2.

Now for a look at this week's games and my updated C-USA Power Rankings:

Memphis at Houston

The Tigers' upset over Southern Miss keeps them in the championship picture. The Cougars have won the last two games in this series, and are 5-1 against Memphis at home in the series. Last year’s game went three overtimes.

The Cougars will be without the services of quarterback Kelly Robertson, who broke a bone in his right hand against Army. Robertson is listed as day to day, but may be out for the season. Sophomore Nick Eddy, a junior college transfer, will start this weekend against Memphis and he will be backed up by Torrence Botts.

The Tigers picked off four passes against Southern Miss. last weekend in their upset win.

Cincinnati at UAB

The Bearcats are 2-0 and very much a part of the league championship chase. True freshman quarterback Gino Guidugli torched the Tulane Tulane defense to the tune of a school record tying four touchdowns.


The Bearcats are riding a five game league-winning streak dating back to last season.

UAB needs a dose of that Tulane “D”, as the Blazers are firing blanks of late. The Blazers have scored just 14 points in three road games, but they really aren’t a lot better at home.

TCU at Tulane

Unlike UAB, the Texas Christian DOES get a shot at the Tulane defense this week, and the Horned Frogs should put up some big numbers. The Wave is giving up over 460 yards per game, while the Frogs are giving up just 283 yards.

TCU is coming off of an open date. This will be the Green Wave’s fourth home game in five contests this season. TCU should dominate the Tulane defense, and win this game easily.

ECU travels to TCU for the school’s first ever Tuesday night game coming up at the end of this month.

East Carolina at Army

Coach Todd Berry's Army team comes into this game with some momentum, having dispatched of Houston with relative ease last Saturday to improve to 1-3 on the season.  That's progress, because a year ago the Black Knights didn't pick up their first victory until Game No. 7.

ECU, on the other hand, is coming off an excruciating loss at North Carolina and is dealing with injuries and disappointing performances in its receiving corps and its secondary.

Having fallen below .500 for the first time since the season-opening loss to Wake Forest, the 2-3 Pirates must shake off any Chapel Hill after-effects and get down to business or their season could spiral out of control.

Berry's attempt to pull out a victory over his old boss, Steve Logan, will be an uphill struggle if the Pirates suddenly solve their pass-catching and pass-defending problems.

ECU has won all four games in the series and scored at least 30 points in each of the previous meetings.

With Leonard Henry ranked No. 9 in the nation in rushing and David Garrard directing an offensive attack ranked 25th in scoring and 30th in total yards, ECU has the potential to make this game a springboard towards a full-throttle C-USA title run.

Brian Bailey's C-USA Power Rankings [101201]

1.    Louisville…. Cards are 5-1, and the closest thing the league has to a Top 25 member….
    Cincinnati…. Don’t think the Bearcats are second best in the league, but they are 2-0....
    TCU…. Horned Frogs should have easy time of things this week at Tulane….
    Memphis… Great win over Southern Miss. keeps the Tigers in the chase….
    East Carolina…. The Pirates still have a chance to make this a memorable season....
    Southern Miss….  Will still have plenty to say about the conference championship.…
    UAB…. Offense keeps the Blazers in the lower half of the standings....
    Army…. Black Knights picked up huge win over Houston. Rooting hard for Army after this weekend....
    Tulane…. Ranked ahead of Houston because of win over Southern....
Houston… 0-4, but still probably better then the Green Wave....

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02/23/2007 01:19:39 AM

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