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Conference Notes: C-USA Conference

UPCOMING GAMES (ALL TIMES CT)

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 18
SMU at LA Tech (CBSSN) 2:30 pm
Fordham at Florida Atlantic (ESPN3) 5 pm
East Carolina at Marshall (CBSSN/Facebook) 5 pm
Middle Tennessee at UTSA (ESPN+) 5 pm
Old Dominion at Liberty (ESPN3) 5 pm
Charlotte at Georgia State (ESPN+) 6 pm
FIU at Texas Tech (ESPN+) 6 pm
Troy at Southern Miss (ESPN+) 6 pm
UAB at North Texas (Stadium) 6:30 pm
Rice at Texas (LHN) 7 pm

QUICK HITTERS

A LOOK AT WEEK THREE
Twelve of the 14 Conference USA teams are in action in Week 3, as UTEP and WKU are on bye weeks. Week 3 also marks the first pair of C-USA matchups, as UAB travels to Denton to take on North Texas and Middle Tennessee takes a trip to San Antonio to battle UTSA. The other eight teams set to play will do so in non-conference contests.

Louisiana Tech (1-1) hosts SMU (2-0) in Ruston on
Saturday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. CT on CBS Sports
Network. The Bulldogs held off Southeastern Louisiana last week, 45-42 in their home opener. SMU pulled away late at home last week in a win over North Texas, 35-12.

Florida Atlantic (1-1) earned its first win of the season, dominating Sun Belt foe Georgia Southern 38-6 last week. The Owls host Fordham at 5 p.m. CT on ESPN3.

Marshall (2-0) is one of three unbeaten teams in CUSA, and the Thundering Herd host American Athletic Conference foe East Carolina (0-2) at 5 p.m. CT CBS Sports Network/Facebook. Marshall won its home opener 44-10 over NC Central last week. East Carolina was beaten on a field goal as time expired against South Carolina, 20-17.

Middle Tennessee (1-1) hits the road to open its conference slate in the Alamodome against UTSA (2-0) Saturday. The Roadrunners shut out Lamar 54-0 last week, while the Blue Raiders fell 35-14 at No. 19 Virginia Tech. The C-USA opener will be broadcast on ESPN+ at 5 p.m. CT.

Old Dominion (1-1) picked up its first win since August 31, 2019 (Norfolk State), when it knocked off Hampton 47-7 last week. The win was also head coach Ricky Rahne’s first with the Monarchs. ODU hosts Liberty (2-0) on ESPN3 at 5 p.m. CT.

Charlotte (2-0) hits the road for the first time in 2021 after winning last week at home 38-10 over Gardner-Webb. The 49ers take on Georgia State (0-2), who fell 59-17 at No. 24 North Carolina last week. The game will kick off at 6 p.m. CT on ESPN+.

FIU (1-1), who fell in overtime last week against Texas State (23-17), will be in Lubbock in Week 3, taking on Texas Tech (2-0). The Panthers and Red Raiders kick off their non-conference matchup at 6 p.m. CT on ESPN+. Tech survived a scare against FCS foe Abilene Christian last week, 28-22.

Southern Miss (1-1) earned the first win of the Will Hall era last week, when the Golden Eagles blanked Grambling State, 37-0. Southern Miss hosts Troy (2-0) this week in Hattiesburg at 6 p.m. CT on ESPN+. UAB (1-1), who lost 56-7 at No. 2 Georgia last week, travel to take on North Texas (1-1) Saturday night in each teams’ C-USA lid-lifter. UNT fell 35-12 in Dallas at SMU last week. The game kicks off at 6:30 p.m. CT in Denton from Apogee Stadium live on Stadium.

Rice (0-2) lost at home to Houston 44-7 last week, and make the trip to Austin Saturday night to battle Texas (1-1), who is coming off a disappointing loss of its own, falling 40-21 at Arkansas. The game kicks off from DKR Texas Memorial Stadium at 7 p.m. CT on Longhorn Network.

MARSHALL 2-0 UNDER HUFF
Marshall rolled up 700 yards of total offense in a dominant win over North Carolina Central, as the Thundering Herd improved to 2-0 under head coach Charles Huff. QB Grant Wells completed 34-47 passes for 347 yards and three touchdowns, while WR Talik Keaton caught three passes for 73 yards and two scores.

ROADRUNNERS OFF TO FAST START
UTSA improved to 2-0 on the young season with a 54-0 win over Lamar in the Roadrunners’ home opener. UTSA held the Cardinals to 122 yards — the fewest yards allowed in program history — in racing out to their second straight 2-0 start to a season. UTSA’s 54-point margin of victory bettered the previous standard of 53 set in the 56-3 triumph over Northwestern Oklahoma State in 2012.

PERRY’S BIG DAY
Florida Atlantic QB N’Kosi Perry had a very big performance in the Owls’ 38-6 win in their home opener over Sun Belt foe Georgia Southern. Perry completed 19-27 passes for 332 yards and four touchdowns, with no interceptions. The FAU win keeps head coach Willie Taggart undefeated in home games (5-0) during his time in Boca Raton.

ZAPPE, STERNS GOING OFF
WKU fell 38-35 at Army Saturday afternoon, as the Hilltoppers’ furious fourth quarter comeback fell just short, but QB Bailey Zappe and WR Jerreth Sterns continued to light up the stat sheet. Zappe finished 28-40 for 435 yards with four total touchdowns (three through the air) and Sterns caught nine passes for 171 yards and two scores. Zappe has thrown for 859 yards and 10 TDs to just two INTs (on 56-75 attempts) through the first two games, while Sterns has 16 receptions for 278 yards and four TDs.

RAHNE, HALL EARN FIRST WINS
Old Dominion head coach Ricky Rahne and Southern Miss head coach Will Hall each earned their first career wins as head coaches last week, respectively. ODU beat Hampton 47-7 , which was the Monarchs’ first win since a season-opening win over Norfolk State in 2019. Old Dominion did not play during the 2020 season, which delayed Rahne’s debut to this year.

Southern Miss bounced back from a frustrating Week 1 loss by shutting out Grambling State 37-0 in Hall’s first game at The Rock.

PICK-6 U
Louisiana Tech did it again last week. The national leader in pick-sixes over the course of the past four seasons (15), recorded its second pick-six of the season in as many games. This time it was DB BeeJay Williamson, who opened the scoring for Louisiana Tech in the Bulldogs’ 45-42 win over Southeastern Louisiana, by intercepting a wayward pass and taking it back 45-yards for the score in the first quarter. Week 2 DB BeeJay Williamson, 45 yards Week 1 LB Trey Baldwin, 35 yards

AIR IT OUT
Five different Conference USA quarterbacks threw for 300-plus yards in Week 2, including WKU QB Bailey Zappe, who surpassed 400 yards for the second time in as many games with the Hilltoppers (435). Bailey Zappe, WKU 435 at Army Jace Ruder, North Texas 366 at SMU Grant Wells, Marshall 347 vs. NC Central N’Kosi Perry, Florida Atlantic 332 vs. Ga. Southern Gavin Hardison, UTEP 307 at Boise State

BURN(S) NOTICE
North Texas WR Roderic Burns has burst onto the scene for the Mean Green offensively, filling the gaping hole left by now Tampa Bay Buccaneer Jaelon Darden. Burns leads C-USA with 18 catches through the first two games, and has 255 yards and a touchdown. Burns is one of three C-USA receivers with two 100-plus yard receiving games through Week 2. Burns hauled in a game-high 12 passes for 141 yards last week for the Mean Green in their game against SMU.

LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON
Southern Miss RB Frank Gore, Jr., had a big-time performance last week for the Golden Eagles in their first win of 2021, 37-0 over Grambling State. Gore carried 21 times for 162 yards with a touchdown in the victory. Gore, Jr., the son of 16-year NFL veteran Frank Gore, Sr., is one of a talented group of running backs spread across Conference USA.

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