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Conference USA Previews

From the Anchor Desk
Friday, November 9, 2001

By Brian Bailey
Sports Anchor of WNCT-TV 9

Showdown in Cincy Can Set Stage for
Even Bigger Showdown in Greenville


East Carolina at Cincinnati

The Pirates hope to take care of business this weekend at Cincinnati and set up a championship showdown with Louisville for Thursday night.

ECU will look to continue its great success in the league in road games. The Pirates are 9-2 in their last 11 road contests in Conference USA.  A small crowd is expected, so the team may have to generate its own enthusiasm — which isn't likely to be a problem, considering the stakes.

Look for the Pirates to pound Leonard Henry at the Bearcats in the early going. Henry is the nation’s seventh leading rusher, and he’s really not getting all that much work. I think that changes this week.

If Henry is able to get loose, that will open up the passing attack. David Garrard doesn’t have to win the game; he just can’t afford to lose it.

I think Garrard learned a valuable lesson against Texas Christian. You can’t fault his effort, but his decision making on the fumble in the third quarter did leave a lot to be desired.

On defense, the Pirates will have to come up with the same type of effort that we saw against Memphis and in the first half of the TCU game. ECU must get pressure on the quarterback, to take some of the pressure off of the defensive backs.

Rarely do you get a chance to play for an outright conference championship. But that’s the case if the Pirates take care of business against the Bearcats.

Greenville will be rocking next Thursday night either way. But you have to think the excitement will be that much greater, if both teams are unbeaten in Conference USA going into the game.

Houston at Louisville

The Pirates would dearly love to get some help from the hapless Cougars.

A win for Louisville would mark back to back nine win seasons for the school for the first time in its history. Houston leads the all-time series 6-4, but the Cards have won the last two games. Louisville lit up Tulane last week, and will probably do the same this week to the Cougars. Houston will be big underdogs to both Louisville and Georgia, with UAB the only game left.

Just what Conference USA needs, a team that finishes the year 0-11.

Texas Christian at UAB

This is the only other league game this week as both the Horned Frogs and the Blazers try to sneak back into the bowl picture. The Frogs played an outstanding second half of football against the Pirates, and hope to ride that momentum into Birmingham. Like the Pirates, TCU still has Louisville and Southern Miss. to play. UAB has just Houston in the league, with a non-conference match-up against Pittsburgh scheduled for December 1st.

Memphis at Tennessee

This week’s chance for the league to make some noise is in Knoxville, where the Volunteers host Memphis. For whatever reason, the Tigers seem to always play Tennessee as tough as anyone does. Last year, the Vols kicked a 34-yard field goal with 13 seconds to play to win 19-17. Two years ago, Tee Martin threw a touchdown pass in the final minute as the Vols won 17-16. Also, the highest nationally ranked team that Memphis has ever beaten was Tennessee in 1996, when the Volunteers were ranked 6th.

Buffalo at Army

This is a match-up between Conference USA and the MAC, which features bowl tie-ins in both the GMAC Mobile Bowl and the Motor City Bowl in Pontiac, Michigan. Both teams have just two wins on the season. This is the last game of the season at Michie Stadium, which will undergo a major renovation in the off season.

Tulane at Navy

The Green Wave goes for its third win of the season, visiting Navy in Annapolis, Maryland. Last year’s game featured 1,229 yards of total offense in the 50-38 win by Tulane. The home team is a sparkling 10-1-1 in the series. Tulane leads the overall series at 8-5-1.

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02/23/2007 01:19:47 AM

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