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Bailey's Take on Conference USA

From the Anchor Desk
Friday, October 26, 2001

By Brian Bailey
Sports Anchor of WNCT-TV 9

USM Game Time Switch a Big Win-Win


Are you ready for some football?

Everybody wins with ESPN’s decision to move East Carolina’s November 23 game with Southern Mississippi to Friday morning at 11AM.

Get ready for one of the biggest football days in the sports history of Eastern North Carolina. It’s a Pirate football season finale for brunch, and a full buffet of high school football playoff action at dinner.

I was one of many that took shots at East Carolina for scheduling the game in the first place. I realize television is to blame, but it still sets bad precedent to compete against the local high schools.

ECU Athletic Director Mike Hamrick could have taken some of the credit for the move. But to Hamrick’s credit, he responded this way.

"Obviously, this game's date and time have been dictated by television," Hamrick said. "However, we're pleased that the game will not interfere with Friday night high school football in North Carolina. The holiday weekend and a national TV audience should make for an exciting atmosphere."

I couldn’t agree more. We could see the Pirates clinch the Conference USA championship early in the afternoon, and then watch several of our area high schools take another step towards a state championship that evening.

Pirate coach Steve Logan likes the move, too.

“I love it, I do. I love it because that’s about four less hours that I have to spend in a hotel room waiting for the kick-off ” Logan explained.

“The only thing that would make me happier is if they would kick it off at 8 AM. We could have coffee and donuts at halftime and play that baby. The earlier, the better, for me, that’s for sure.”

Don’t eat too much turkey and pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, because the football feast is Friday. It will be the biggest football day that our area has ever seen.


Louisville at Cincinnati

This is the game to find out if Cincinnati is a contender, or a pretender. The Bearcats have won seven straight conference games dating back to last year. Their last loss came against these same Louisville Cardinals.

The Cardinals close out their season with four of their final five games on the road, including a trip to Greenville. Louisville survived a grudge match last Tuesday against Southern Miss, coming from behind to win 24-14.

The difference in these two teams is Louisville quarterback Dave Ragone. Ragone finds a way to win, and he’s the guy the Bearcats will have to stop.
Southern Miss battered Ragone, but the Cardinal quarterback still picked up a victory.

UAB at Memphis

The winner of this game stays in the bowl hunt. The loser may begin thinking about next season.

The Tigers came to Greenville with a roar last week. They left with barely a whimper. East Carolina completely shut down Memphis, so the Tigers had some questions to work on at practice this week.

UAB won last year’s game in Birmingham at Legion Field. That was a defensive struggle in which Memphis had 186 total yards, compared to UAB with just 200.

Houston at Southern Miss

The Golden Eagles should make short work of Houston this week, though the Cougars gave Cincinnati quite a fight last weekend. Houston blew an 11-point third quarter lead in the loss.

Southern Miss is looking to snap a rare, two-game losing streak.

These two have a great history in Conference USA. Back in 1996, the first year of the league, Houston beat Southern Miss 56-49 on their way to the first ever championship in the league.

Contrast that to last year’s score, when Southern Miss beat Houston 6-3.

Tulane at Army

The Black Knights have a real shot at a second conference win if they can slow down Tulane’s high-octane offense.

Army won last year’s game 21-17 on a last second touchdown pass.

Tulane was disappointing again last week in the loss to UAB after blasting TCU the week before.

This is a match up of to teams desperate for respect. It’s also a pair of teams that have to try and continue to improve, to make this conference that much more appealing.

Brian Bailey's C-USA Power Rankings [102601]

1. Louisville…. Cards have several tough road games to go.

2. East Carolina… Pirates will win the league title with four more efforts like the one from Saturday.

3. Cincinnati… Put up or shut up time for the Bearcats.

4. TCU… Only team in the league with one conference loss. Hopefully, the Frogs head south after the ECU game on Tuesday.

5. Southern Miss…. Just 1-2 in the league, but still could be the best team in the conference.

6. Memphis…. Tigers have to regroup after long trip to Greenville.

7. UAB….Blazers hope to keep bowl hopes alive against Memphis.

8. Tulane… Great offense + No defense = Very Few Wins.

9. Army….The Black Knights hope for another league win this week.

10. Houston….The best 0-6 team in the country, I guess.

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02/23/2007 01:19:43 AM

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