CUSA 2014 football preview


Marshall: Rakeem Cato returns to lead the potent Thundering Herd but will sure miss Gator Hoskins, the talented TE drafted by the Dolphins. If the Herd can find some D. I don’t see anyone stopping them in the East. Kevin Grooms dismissal  will hurt the Herd’s depth at RB.

Florida Atlantic:  The Owls,free of the Carl Pellini  troubles, are one of my two dark horses. Head Coach Partridge has most of  #1 D  in the 2013 CUSA returning if they can survive the first two games at Nebraska & Bama.

Middle Tennessee- Blue Raiders will go as the  QB merry-go -round spins. Grammerly, Stocksill (coach’s son), orErdely. Some say Stocksill has the edge, The Blue Raiders  tempo style may not be enough in the  CUSA and will weak O & D lines land them in the basement?

WKU: Jeff Brohm tales the reins from hit and run Petrino and will need to evaluate QB Doughty quickly, then look for RBs to replace  Antonio Andrews.   Hilltoppers won’t be atop many opponents this season

UAB- Perhaps the best thing going for new HC Phil Clark is the QB-WR connection.  Incoming Juco QB Cody Clemens , the likely starter will have the top 3 targets back from last year, including big play threat Jamarcus Nelson, who averaged 20.1 yards per catch last year on 46 receptions and scored 8 TDs

Old Dominion:  Coach Wilder’s Monarchs up-tempo O led by Taylor Heinicke will put up some points , but I don’t see them getting to far out of the cellar.

FIU : Can true Freshman QB Alex McGough save Turner’s job?


Rice :   If your team is the Owls then you must’ve shared a scheduler for a tough first two games, @Notre Dame and @ Texas A&M. Rice had a solid D in 2013 , but  have big holes in the  D secondary with the departures of Gaines &  Porras. Can Dillard & Davis  replace Charles Ross @ RB?

UTSA:  Coker may finally have  the Roadrunners in contention. The transition at QB  from Soza  to  Carter  and the emergence of Glasco at RB  are the keys on offense. The D  will need to be great up front to cover for some of the doubts about the secondary .

North Texas: Pegram  &  Jimmerson returns to anchor  a solid offensive backfield   that may miss Byrd a little. Their D should be Ok but they;ll need more special teams  heroics to duplicate the solid 2013  season

Louisiana Tech

Southern Miss


Mid majors hoops thru Feb 8

USM & UTEP  remain tied atop the CUSA . USM got quite a home scare from Marshall Friday night but survived 60-57.  John Bohannon scored 19 points and Julian Washburn finished with 18 in the UTEP WIN over ODU. Seven striaigh CUSA wins makes the Miners the team to watch.


Trency’s Jackson buzzer beater  gave WKU  the W over Ark St and kep them two games behind  Ga St in the Sunbelt race.


Ohio had to rally to  beat  Miami of O to stay one game behind Akron in the MAC East.


Rian Pearson scored 20 points to lead a balanced attack as Toledo beat Ball St to stay one game ahead of W.Mich who faces NIU today.

Checking in with 2013/14 mid-majors hoops

Yes, I know the SunBelt may only get one dance ticket, but I like learning and reviewing these three conferences football and basketball programs.

Feb1: I’ll wrap up January quickly and move on to the home stretch.


CUSA misses Memphis and La Tech is off to a 2-0 start to fill that void. Raheem  Appleby leads the team with 16.1 PPG. Watch out for ODU, a one time stalwart CAA program.

1/19/14:Denzell Taylor’s 14 points helped  ODU comeback and beat FAU yesterday. Another surging team is Charlotte> How about that win yesterday: Terrence Williams scored twice in the final 42 seconds – including a game-winning dunk at the buzzer – as North Carolina-Charlotte slid past North Texas 76-74.

    1/21/14: USM used a rebounding edge (48-26) Sunday to give La Tech it’s first conference loss.

1/24/13: USM handles ODU and stays in a first place tie with Tulsa and La Tech. Eagles fly into ECU on Saturday and shouldn’t take the CUSA cellar dwellers lightly.

1/26/13:  USM struggled for 3/4 of the game but a late 16-1 run carried them to victory. La Tech kept pace behind McNeal & Hamilton’s scoring against Marshall.

Feb1: USM and UTEP are tied for first at 5-1, but Chad Frazier and the UAB Blazers are improving  and should handle ECU at home today.

Feb2 : Wrong about the Blazers. USM rolled the green Wave and tulsa is surging.


1/17/14- Buffalo( J.McCrea-16.8 PPG) leads the East &  W.Mich ( David Brown-18.9) leads  the West.

1/18/14: Akron is 3-0 in conference play but the Zips are sluggish today (Jan 18) on their way to losing to Toledo.

1/25/13: Zips bounced back with a nice road win at E.Mich. and vist C.Mich today. Toledo beat NIU and hosts Kent St tomorrow.

1/26/13 Akron won and I was surprised that EMU let the Ohio game get away.

1/30/14- Akron gets a 24-2 run and rolls over Ball St to keep the lead in the MAC East

2/1/14: Akron and Toledo sit atop their divisions. Today’s matchup at Ohio is the right time  for Toledo’s Justin Drummond to increase his 14 PPG .

2/2: Akron slipped and  Drummond only scored 12 ina loss to the Bobcats who got a great game from Maurice Ndour

2/5/14: Slow Tuesday night. Miami of O only scored 14 points in the second half in a loss to NIU. Each team is in the middle of the pack in their MAC divisions and will likely need to win the MACT to earn a Dance ticket.

2/6/14- Nice wins for Toledo & Akron, each 7-2 in MAC play and watch out for W. Michigan (6-3) who got 22 points from Austin Richie in a blowout of Ohio.


 Ga St has been slow on the gridiron, but the Panthers’ cagers are off to a 3-0 conference start. Ryan Harrow leads the squad with 18.6 PPG. GA St now 4-0.

1/19/13      GA St moves to 5-0 in conference play: R.J. Hunter scored 25 points and Manny Atkins had 22 points as Georgia State in a 99-73 win over Arkansas-Little Rock on Saturday.

1/24/13: GA ST 6-0 .  Nice stat line from R Hunter in the W over ULL (33 Pts, 7 Reb, 2 Stl, 1 Blk) and head for ULM on Saturday. Warthogs may be  feisty after losing a home game to WKU.

1/26/13: ULM Warthogs slowed down but couldn’t contain Ryan Harrow & the Ga St Panthers stretching to their team record eleventh win in a row.

2/1/14: Sunbelt leader  GA St takes on the  pesky Tx- Arlington Mavericks today. The Mavs gave second place WKU a rough time before losing Thursday night. Ga St will focus on stopping o Reger Dowell , a transfer from Ok St , who’s averaging 21 PPG.

2/2/14:  Panthers couldn’t stop Dowell but Hunter &  Devonta White each drilled last minute treys to force OT and  then a huge W over the Mavs .Meanwhile George Fant’s 21points  in a WKU win over UTSA  helped the Hilltoppers keep near Ga St in a the Sunbelt race.

2/4/14: Hunter and GA St roll S. Bama to remain undefeated (9-0) in conference play

Mid majors bowl preview 2013/14

Famous Idaho Potato Dec 21
Buffalo (MAC) vs. San Diego State

Buffalo Bulls had a strange November going .500. Licata, Oliver,  and Neutz are a potent trio when they’re on. The SD St Aztecs  were doing well in November until UNLV leveled them. Aztecs  O trio of Kaehler, Muema , and Ruffin will be a tad more potent and lead SD St to a 46-44 win.


I nailed this one , Aztecs started quickly and cruised to a 49-24 win. Big props to SDST RB Adam Muema who scored three touchdowns and rushed for 230 yards,

R+L Carriers New Orleans Dec 21
Tulane (CUSA) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette  (SUNBELT)

Tulane has  leveled off but they have a decent D and Joe Montana’s son Nick at QB. ULL ‘s QB Terrance Broadway leads a Cajuns O that plays well, at times.  Tulane’s D should save them. Tul 20 ULL 16


I was wrong ULL 24 TuL 21. Neither starting QB was effective  and  starting RB Darkwa almost carried (3 rushing TDs) Tulane to win.  Cajuns D deserves some props.

Beef ‘O’ Brady’s St. Petersburg Dec 23
East Carolina (CUSA) vs. Ohio (MAC)

Ohio has been erratic and ECU  was rolling behind S. Carden( 358 504 3866 yards 32TDs) until a tough late-season loss to Marshall. Pirates beat ACC teams UNC & NC St, and lost a squeaker to VTech. ECU 31 Ohio 16

12/25/13- I wasn’t too far off on this one  ECU won 37-20, Carden & Cooper  had great days:

Passing: S. Carden (ECU) – 273 YDS, 1 TD

Rushing: V. Cooper (ECU) – 25 CAR, 198 YDS, 2

Little Caesars Pizza Dec 26
Pittsburgh vs. Bowling Green (MAC)

I’m was leaning toward  BG after their impressive MAC title game win but Coach Clawson’s exit for Wake Forest has me wavering. BG RB Travis Green  rushed for over 1500 yards  and averaged five plus yards a carry. Pitt defeated Duke and Notre Dame  but lost to  Navy & UNC. I’ll  take Pitt (ACC) in a nailbiter.

12/27/13:  Pitt hung on (30-27) against the fiesty Falcons led by  M.Johnson (BGSU) – 272 YDS, 2 TD.

S.D. County Credit Union Poinsettia Dec 26
Utah State vs. Northern Illinois (MAC)

Lynch   & the Huskies  will bounce back after the loss to Bowling Green and beat  the Utah St. The Ags QB Chuckie Keeton has had a decent season but  their improving has been  the key. The Huskies in a low-scoring game 20-16.

12/27/13: Utah St  held Lynch to 39 yards rushing and won 21-14. Rough Thursday night for the MAC.

Military Bowl Presented By Northrop Grumman   Dec 27
Marshall (CUSA) vs. Maryland- First time these  two schools have played  a football game against each  other and I expect an ugly game. Rakeem Cato has thrown 36 TDs and only 9 INTs, but I look for the Terps to make a few picks and  their O should take advantage of a Marshall D that  gave up a lot of points in the CUSA.  Terps 23 Marshall 19 and  keep your eyes on  Gator Hoskins,  a solid TE for the Herd who’ll be playing on Sundays.

12/27/13: I was right about Hoskins and so wrong about my Terps. Props to Rakeem Cato 28-44-337-0 , too. Marshall 31 MD 20

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Dec 30

Middle Tennessee (CUSA) vs. Navy

Middies  are 1-5 in their last six bowl games and rely heavily on  their QB Keenan Reynolds- 25 TDs (19 rushing, 7 passing). MTSU won five in a row to finish the regular season and will need the D to play big. I predict a tie but the NCAA undid that option.

12/31/13: Navy  played better than I thought against the erratic Blue Raiders in a 24-6 W.

AutoZone Liberty  Dec 31
Rice (CUSA) vs. Mississippi State

Miss St saved their season by beating Ol Miss. They have too much talent to lose to Rice. I look for the Bulldogs D-line to punish the Owls.

1/1/14: Miss St 44 Rice7 Final score says it all


My apologies for not making a  prediction. Mean Green woke up in the second half  behind Derek Thompson  who threw for 256 yards and two touchdowns and won in their first bowl appearance in nine years.

North Texas  36  UNLV 11

GoDaddy  Jan 5
Arkansas State (SUNBELT) vs. Ball State (MAC)

Ark St loses another head coach (Harsin to Boise St) to a bigger program and it’s hard to argue with  these numbers  from Ball St’s QB Keith Wenning(3,933 yards, 34 touchdowns, six interceptions).

Can Ball St  help the MAC avoid a winless bowl season?

1/6/14: Ark St did  a solid job slowing down Wenning,  scored last, and won 23-20. Nice stat line for: RB Rushing:  J Edwards (BALL) – 28 CAR, 146 YDS, 1 T

2.5 Pack Finals- Mid Majors


Can Marshall Cato  ( 246-414, 3314 yds, 34 tds)ride the Herd to another victory and win the CUSA. They  had an easier time defeating  ECU last week than I expected, but Rice has a formidable rushing attack led by Ross( 183 car, 1143 yds, 12 tds). Rice has a slightly better D, but look for  Cato to find Gator Hoskins, a TE who’ll play on Sunday, often and trim the Owls feathers 24-23.

Some Marshall fans are ticked that BCS rankings were used to give Rice home field. More formulas and now some history: Marshall will be playing for its first conference championship since winning their sixth straight Mid-American conference title in 2002. Rice won a share of the Southwest Conference championship in 1994 and their last outright conference title was the 1957 SWC championship.


Congrats to Rice and it’s ground game of 250 yards. Also, the Owls D slowed down Cato and it appeared he was telegraphing his passes.


Bowling Green has an upghill battle against NIU and Lynch. Maybe Greene (  235 car, 1422 yds, 10 tds) will rush them to victory, but I’ll let Lynch’s numbers do the talking:

Passing: Lynch – 212-329, 2457 yds, 22 tds

Rushing: Lynch – 248 car, 1755 yds, 20 tds

Well, I was wrong big time. Matt Johnson , the Bowling Green Falcons QB, stole the show throwing 4 of his 5 TD passes in the first half   against NIU. Lynch had a so-so night and his Heisman hopes may have vanished. Props to the Falcons who last won a MAC title in 1992.


If The Terence Broadway lights shine for ULL against USA then the Cajuns win  the SunBelt, but If Metheny and the improved Jags pull the upset than idle Ark St will be tied with ULL for the Sun Belt title.


South Alabama Jags (6-6, 4-3 Sun Belt) are up for most improved squad of the 2013 season. Jay Jones did the bulk of the rushing with 105 yards while Ken Houston scored two rushing TDs in their 30-8 win over conference leader ULL.


Mid-majors bowl preview blog will be started later tonight (Sunday) or early tomorrow.

Mid majors Tuesday, NIU, & the BCS

One game tonight: NIU hosts a   weak  Western Michigan and Jordan Lynch will  continue their undefeated march to another major bowl game. More later in the week.  Here’s my final must-see poll of the season.

Bowling Green /Buffalo victor wins the MAC East.

Ark St travels to WKU  and needs a win  against the improving Hilltoppers to stay in the SunBelt title race.

Carden and ECU Pirates travel to Huntingdon WVA to face Marshall(Cato) for the CUSA East crown.


Lynch for the Heisman. Yes, I’ll continue to repeat myself.  P.J. Fleck helped recruit quarterback Jordan Lynch to Northern Illinois so the first-year Western Michigan coach had to stand there and watch him rush for 321 yards and 3TDs, plus a passing TD in 33-14 NIU win.  Bowling Green took care of Buffalo  to win the MAC West and  will try to derail the Lynch train in the MAC final next week. Akron edged Toledo in the only close contest yesterday.  Ball St, Ohio, & C.Michigan had easy wins over , respectively, MiamiO , UMass, and E.Mich.


Troy became bowl eligible with a 52-28 win over Tx St. Petrino’s WKU Hilltoppers continued their late season improvement with a 34-31 win over Ark St and ULM  gave ULL it’s first conference loss. ULL holds a one game lead over Ark St and faces a tough foe  ,  the S. Bama Jags, next week  The  Metheny to Jones  Jags’ connection was too much for Ga St. yesterday.


 Cato’s Herd  easily beat ECU 59-28 and clinched  the East which will like ly set up a Marshall/Rice  CUSA final if Rice beats Tulane today. FAU  beat FIU in the Shula Bowl.


Rice held off Tulane in the closest CUSA contest. S.Miss blew out  UAB for  it’s first conference win  since 2011 behind Mullens’ five TD passes. UTSA, MTSU, & N.Tex cruised by ,respectively, La Tech, Tulsa, & UTEP 

I can’t sign off w/o saying (again): Skip Holtz must go for La Tech to flourish.  A bowl preview of mid -major squads is in the oven.

Week 13 Tuesday in Ohio

Tuesday night’s MAC games are in Ohio, but I’ll pick the Wednesday game  (NIU @ Toledo) inside the Glass Bowl @ Toledo , Ohio as the MAC  option in the  must see poll. Toledo trails NIU by a half game in the West.

The Saturday in the SunBelt option  has the WKU Hilltoppers visiting  Tx St in the battle of two  former big time coaches, respectively, Petrino & Franchione.

Can UTSA put a dent in  North Texas, CUSAW  title hopes?  Updates during the week.


Oliver’s rushing yards were more of a factor than Licata’s passing in Buffalo’s romp over Miami of Wohio, while Kent St rolled fading Ohio. Lynch’s legs led NIU to a  big second half explosion for a 35-17 win over Toledo. Lynch should be a Heisman contender. In Saturday action C.Mich and Bowling Green rolled mover respectively, UMass & E.Mich.


 Rice Owls rushed for 328 yards and hung on in OT against a UAB team which played better than their 2-9 .  Owls lead NTex in the West by a .5 game and will be watching the NT/UTSA game closely.

Rice can relax a little as UTSA  knocked off N. Texas

While Carden led ECU to a big OOC win over NC St, Cato led Marshall to a blowout of FIU which means the winner of their matchup next week takes the crown in the East. FAU blew out N.Mex St in an OOC game while Tulane & MTSU won easily over, respectively UTEP & USM. Last and least was the Holtz misery as La Tech fell to Trey Watts & Tulsa.



Bobby Petrino’s offenses are known  for their aerial displays but WKU’s star  in the blowout of TX St was running back  A. Andrews( 21 CAR, 204 YDS, 3 TDs). S.Bama Jags have lost some nailbiters, but their QB Metheny didn’t let  ULM get too close yesterday in a 36-14 victory. GA St got very close to it’s first win,  but the Kennedy  to Wilson connection help Ark St survive 35-33.