Week 7 Previews C-USA
Fri., Oct. 15 @ 6:00 pm CT
Marshall Thundering Herd at North Texas Mean Green
This is the fourth meeting between the two schools and Marshall holds a 2-1 edge in the all-time series. The Thundering Herd has won both meetings in Huntington (1988, 2015) but lost in its only trip to Denton (2016).
Marshall Thundering Herd
Thundering Herd Fall Notes
Notes vs. ODU
Attendance for Saturday’s game at Joan C. Edwards
Stadium was 24,172.
With Saturday’s win, Marshall improved to 6-1 against Old Dominion all-time, including 4-0 at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.
Marshall senior offensive lineman Will Ulmer made the 50th start of his career in Saturday’s game, joining an exclusive club. Ulmer is the 11th player in Thundering Herd history to eclipse 50 starts, joining Chris Deaton, Aaron Ferguson, Chris Jasperse, Billy Lyon, Steve Sciullo, Roger Johnson, Chad Pennington, Nate McPeek, Levi Brown and Melvin Cunningham.
The fourth quarter interception by Marshall defensive back Steven Gilmore was his second pick this season and fifth of his career.
Thundering Herd safety Cory McCoy had his first career interception.
MU linebacker Charlie Gray set a career high with 11 tackles.
Marshall receiver Shadeed Ahmed caught the go-ahead touchdown in overtime, his second consecutive game with a touchdown. Ahmed also equaled his career high in catches with seven, which he had set the previous week. Herd QB Grant Wells became the 14th player in school history to eclipse 4,000 career passing yards and tied Bud Nelson for No. 16 on the career passing touchdowns list with 26.
The Herd offense entered the game second nationally in fumbles, but did not fumble against the Monarchs. Marshall is now 10-7, all-time, in overtime games.
Gaines Moves Up
Marshall tight end Xavier Gaines now has 1,203 career receiving yards. He has moved past Mike Bartrum (1,187 yards, 1989-92) into the No. 6 spot for Herd tight end
career receiving yards. Gaines is now 115 yards from Gator Hoskins and the Marshall career top five.
In 2021, the Marshall defense has now held four of its first six opponents to fewer than 110 passing yards.
Third Quarter Stinginess
Marshall allowed its first points in the third quarter in the loss at Middle Tennessee, although the Herd DEFENSE has still yet to yield any points in the third period.
Marshall ranks No. 8 in the nation in total offense at 515 yards per game and is seventh with 358 passing yards per game.
-14 plays of 40+ yards (fifth nationally)
-115 plays of 10+ yards (fifth nationally)
-37 plays of 20+ yards (12th nationally)
-17 of 30+ yards (20th nationally)
Individually, Ali leads the nation with his 13 touchdowns, 11 rushing scores and his 13.0 points per game. Wells ranks No. 7 in the nation with his average of 334
passing yards per game.
Sacks and TFLs
Through six games, Marshall is No. 2 in the nation in total quarterback sacks (24) and is sixth in tackles for loss per game (8.0).
Coin Toss Slide
Marshall has lost the coin toss in each of its first six games of 2021 (seven counting the one to begin the overtime victory against ODU). The Thundering Herd won the toss prior to the final four games of the 2020 campaign.
Marshall enters 2021 featuring a .750 winning percentage (12-4) in all NCAA-sanctioned bowl games, the highest mark nationally among programs that have made at least seven appearances. (The Thundering Herd also participated in the 1948 Tangerine Bowl, at which point it was not sanctioned). The leaders are below:
1. Marshall: .750 (12-4)
2. Utah: .739 (17-6)
3. Army: .667 (6-3)
4. Rutgers: .667 (6-3)
5. Ole Miss: .658 (25-13)
6. Louisiana Tech: .654 (8-4-1)
7. Oklahoma State: .645 (20-11)
8. USC: .642 (34-19)
9. San Jose State: .636 (7-4)
10. Syracuse: .635 (16-9-1)
Protecting the Home Turf
Marshall is nationally known for being one of the toughest places to play in college football. The program has won 81.9 percent (172-38) of its home games in Joan C. Edwards Stadium, the fourth-highest mark in the country of any program that has played more than eight games in its current facility.
Since the beginning of the 2010 season, the Thundering Herd has posted a combined 88-57 (.607) record. When Marshall has an edge in turnover margin, it is 47-12 (.797). When the turnover number is equal, Marshall is 21-8 (.724). When the opponent is more sure-handed, the Herd is 20- 37 (.351). Of Marshall’s 145 games in that span, the Herd has played 73 while committing zero or one turnover, amassing a record of 55-18 (.753) in those games. Marshall is 25-5 (.833) when it has a turnover margin of +2 or better. Marshall has won nine in a row when winning the turnover battle by three or more. Marshall is 27-7 (.794) when it has zero turnovers, and the Herd has won 14 of its last 17 when it does not make a miscue. Marshall has won 18 of its last 22 when winning the turnover battle and the 2020 win over Middle Tennessee was the 10th straight win when MU quarterbacks have two-plus touchdown passes without an interception. The Thundering Herd had five takeaways in 2018 wins over Eastern Kentucky and Florida Atlantic, giving the program nine consecutive wins when it forces four or more turnovers.
The Thundering Herd has now won 35 of its last 38 games when scoring first and has won 22 of its last 25 when leading after the first quarter. Related: since the beginning of the 2013 season, the Herd is 55-4 (.932) when scoring first.
Defensive Numbers to Know
The Herd has won 51 of its last 59 when holding offenses to 5.0 yards per play or fewer. The Herd has won 32 of its last 35 when allowing fewer than 300 yards. Twenty-two (22) times in the last 11-plus seasons has the Herd allowed 125 yards passing or fewer. Marshall is 19-3 (.864) in those games. Marshall is 34-4 (.895) when the defense does not allow a rushing touchdown during that timeframe as well.
Feel the Rush
The Herd is now 51-9 (.850) in the last eight-plus seasons when rushing for 150+ yards and 38-6 (.864) the last eight-plus years with 200+ on the ground. All-time, Marshall is 11-0 since 2010 when rushing for 300+ yards, as it did with 305 in the 33-31 win over Ohio in 2019. Marshall’s 20 rushing first downs in the 2020 59-0 win over EKU was the most for the program since 24 versus Morris Harvey in 1925. 30+ Marshall’s 30 points in the loss at App State makes the Herd 52-5 (.912) in its last 57 games when scoring 30+ points. 50+ Marshall’s 51-10 win over UMass in 2020 was the 19th time that the Thundering Herd reached the 50+-point plateau
under coach Doc Holliday, four more than Jim Donnan (1990-95) for the all-time school mark. Bob Pruett (1996- 2004) reached that mark 14 times and Cam Henderson
(1936-42, 1946-49) did it on 13 occasions.
Since 2010, the Herd has an excellent record of finishing \off its opponents once it takes the lead. Marshall is 70- 10 (.875) when it scores first, 61-10 (.859) when leading after the first quarter, 73-6 (.924) when leading at halftime and 74-7 (.914) when leading after three quarters. In fact, Marshall has won 59 of its last 63 contests when it has the halftime lead.
Strong Versus Texas at Home
Interestingly enough, Marshall has lost just once to a school from Texas at home. The Thundering Herd is 13-1 against Texas schools in games played in Huntington (Rice, 2020). Marshall owns two wins over North Texas (1988, 2015), two wins over Houston (2008, 2012), three wins over Rice (2007, 2011, 2014), two wins over SMU (2005, 2009), two wins over UTEP (2006, 2010) and two victories over UTSA (2013, 2018).
North Texas Mean Green
• For only the first time in program history, UNT hosts a Friday night game with the visit from Marshall.
• The Mean Green are back home playing their first home game in almost a month (Sept. 18 vs. UAB).
• Friday marks the first time North Texas and Marshall have played one another since Oct. 8, 2016 when UNT beat Marshall in Denton 38-21. It was Seth Littrell’s first season at UNT and was just his sixth game as the Mean Green’s head coach. Despite both Marshall and UNT being in the same conference since 2014, Friday will be just the third time they’ve played one another as conference partners and just the fourth time all-time the two schools have met. Marshall leads the all-time series 2-1.
• 2021 Team captains for UNT are DL Dion Novil, RB DeAndre Torrey, LB KD Davis, DS Nate Durham and OL Manase Mose.
• North Texas quarterback Austin Aune threw for four passing touchdowns last week at Missouri. It was the first time this season UNT has thrown more than one passing touchdown in a game this season. His 305 passing yards at Missouri is the second-best single-game passing performance this year. Aune threw for 264 yards in the second half against Missouri alone.
• In their last two games combined, North Texas is outscoring its opponents 38-17 in the second half. For the year, UNT is outscoring its opponents in the second half 70-55. In the second half against Missouri last week, UNT had 232 more yards of offense than Mizzou (379 to 147). UNT averaged 8.6 yards per second half play,
punted just once in the second half and had just one penalty in the second half.
• LB KD Davis has had a monster year. Through five games he has 10 tackles for loss, which ranks tied for third in the nation and first in C-USA. He had a career-best 4.0 tackles for loss last week at Missouri. He’s had three games this year with 3+ tackles for loss. He has two more tackles for loss this season than last year’s team leader (Dion Novil with 8.0) had all of last year.
• Running back DeAndre Torrey ranks sixth in the nation and first in C-USA in yards/game at 120.20. He also can be a threat at receiver. Torrey had a 35-yard touchdown grab last week at Missouri, which was a career-long catch for him
MARSHALL SERIES HISTORY
• Friday is the first time North Texas and Marshall have met since 2016 when UNT won 38-21 on Oct. 8.
• Sixth-year TE Jason Pirtle is the only remaining North Texas player who was on UNT when they last played Marshall in 2016. He did not play against Marshall and redshirted that season. Current UNT offensive GA Kelvin Smith (a 2019 UNT graduate) had one catch for five yards versus Marshall in their 2016 win.
• North Texas played Marshall in the first round of the 1988 Division I-AA playoffs. It was the first meeting between the two schools. Marshall won the game 7-0. In 1988 North Texas spent the first six weeks of the year ranked No. 1 in the nation among I-AA teams and finished the regular season ranked No. 11. Marshall ranked No. 6 in the nation entering the playoffs.
• Following the Friday night battle with Marshall, UNT remains at home when they host Liberty for its final non-conference game of the year.
• Liberty quarterback Malik Willis entered this season with a lot of hype but his video game highlights have turned him into a legitimate top NFL Draft prospect. Through six games so far, Willis has thrown for 1327 yards, 13 TDs and 3 interceptions. He’s also ran 82 times for 498 yards and seven rushing touchdowns. Liberty has beaten Old Dominion, UAB and Middle Tennessee this year and Willis is averaging 250 passing yards/game against C-USA opponents. He also ran for 144 rushing yards against UAB in their 36-12 win at UAB.
• In their only other meeting, UNT beat Liberty 47-7 in Lynchburg on Sept. 22, 2018.
• In the 2018 meeting, UNT battled through a downpour of rain to rush for 360 yards and five rushing touchdown. One of the five rushing touchdowns was by then sophomore DeAndre Torrey
NEVER MISSED A GAME
• Following a redshirt season in 2017, North Texas junior offensive lineman Manase Mose has started all 40 games at both guard and center beginning in 2018.
• His 40 straight starts is tied for 12th active longest in the nation.
• Mose’s 40 straight starts is tops on the team, followed by defensive back Tyreke Davis (32), defensive lineman Dion Novil (30) and offensive lineman Jacob Brammer (28).
• UNT’s regular starting offensive line has combined for 100 career starts through five games in 2021.
• North Texas quarterback Austin Aune has rushed for 115 yards in the last two games combined. He had just 33 career rushing yards prior to this two-game stretch. Aune joined UNT in 2018 and enters Friday’s game versus Marshall with 15 career games played.
• Against Missouri last week, Aune ran the ball 15 times for a career-best 59 yards including a 15-yard scamper in the first half.
• Last season, UNT’s defense gave up an average of 522 yards per game. Through the first five games of 2021 (Northwestern St., SMU, UAB, LA Tech and Missouri), new defensive coordinator Phil Bennett has gotten that average down to 424.
• Most notably, UNT has improved by forcing turnovers. UNT’s defense has gained nine turnovers so far, which is sixth in CUSA and ranks 36th nationally. The Mean Green defense forced only nine in 10 games in 2020.
• UNT’s red zone defense through five games this year ranks 21st in the nation. Opponents have scored just 71 percent of the time they enter the red zone. Last season, that total was 85 percent.
• The Mean Green also rank second in C-USA in TFL/game (7.6).
Sat., Oct. 16 @ 2:30 pm CT
UAB Blazers at Southern Miss Golden Eagles
UAB AND SOUTHERN MISS CLASH IN HATTIESBURG:
Meeting for the 19th time, UAB and Southern Miss square o! this Saturday in Hattiesburg. Southern Miss is UAB’s most common opponent, and despite the Blazers losing the last contest between the two schools, UAB has won seven of the last nine meetings. The Blazers are coming o! a 31-14 victory over Florida Atlantic to move to 4-2 overall and 2-0 in C-USA. Southern Miss suffered a 26-13 loss to UTEP last week to fall to 1-5 overall and 0-2 in league play.
DEFENSE LEADS UAB TO VICTORY OVER FLORIDA ATLANTIC:
The Blazer defense had its best game of the season, holding Florida Atlantic’s high-powered offense to just 291 yards while compiling eight sacks, 12 tackles for loss and creating four takeaways. Defensive end Alex Wright was unstoppable, recording career highs in tackles (8), tackles for loss (3) and sacks (2), along with forcing two fumbles, one of which UAB recovered at the FAU 15-yard line. For his efforts, Wright was named the Conference USA Defensive Player of the Week.
CASH SETS UAB RECORD:
Safety Grayson Cash set a new UAB record for longest scoring play in school history when he returned an interception 100 yards for a touchdown against Florida Atlantic. He is now just one of 11 players in C-USA history to have a 100-yard interception returned for a touchdown. His play came at a critical time as FAU was driving down three right before halftime as Cash’s touchdown gave UAB a 24-14 halftime lead and changed the complete dynamic of the game.
BLAZERS GETTING TAKEAWAYS AT A RAPID RATE:
After just two takeaways in their first three games, the UAB defense has created nine turnovers in the last three games. UAB had a season-high four takeaways on two different occasions – at Tulane and last week against Florida Atlantic. Overall, UAB has seven interceptions and four fumble recoveries. Their 11 takeaways ranks the Blazers 18th nationally.
38 WINS AND COUNTING:
UAB has won 38 games since returning to action in 2017, the most wins of any C-USA team during that span. The Blazers are 38-18 overall dating back to the 2017 season and are the first C-USA team in league history to win their division three years in a row (2018-2020). UAB has been dominant against league action, compiling an overall record of 26-7 vs. Conference USA and a mark of 19-3 against West divisional opponents during that span.
Southern Miss Golden Eagles
The UAB Series
• The Golden Eagles and Blazers continue their series this week that began during the 2000 campaign with USM holding a 11-7 advantage. (See page 3 of the notes for a breakdown of the series)
• Southern Miss won the fi rst nine meetings, but UAB has won seven of the last nine, with the Eagles collecting a 37-2 decision in Hattiesburg in 2019 (see page 3 for recap).
• The 2020 game, scheduled for Birmingham, was not played due to COVID-19.
• The last victory in Birmingham for Southern Miss came in 2013, when they scored 49 points in the second half to win on the last day of the season. That snapped a school-long 23-game overall losing streak.
• The Golden Eagles are 5-4 against the Blazers in Hattiesburg.
• Nine of the 18 games have been decided by seven points or less and the Golden Eagles are 6-3 in those contests.
Longest League Rivalry
• The 18 games between Southern Miss and UAB is the longest series in terms of C-USA games for the Golden Eagles. The next one is 17 games with East Carolina and Memphis.
• The Golden Eagles have played C-USA games against a total of 25 opponents during their tenure with the league, and includes eight opponents in which they have played 10 or more games in league contests.
Last Time Out vs. UAB
Southern Miss 37, UAB 2
Nov. 16, 2019
HATTIESBURG, Miss. — Southern Miss snapped a threegame losing streak against UAB, winning 37-2 and reached postseason eligibility in the process before 23,819 at M.M. Roberts Stadium. Quarterback Jack Abraham threw a pair of touchdowns and the Golden Eagles defense held the Blazers’ offense without a point. The win was just Southern Miss’ second win over the Blazers in the past nine seasons, but gave the Golden Eagles bowl eligibility for the fourth consecutive season. Abraham threw touchdown passes of 20 yards to Quez Watkins and 9 yards to Tim Jones. Abraham, who was sacked four times and passing under pressure another half dozen times, completed 17-of-22 passes for 164 yards. Andrew Stein connected on field goals of 25 yards, 35 yards and 44 yards. Running back Steven Anderson scored on a 6-yard run and safety D.Q. Thomas became the first Golden Eagle to turn an interception into a touchdown this season, returning a mistake by UAB quarterback Dylan Hopkins 55 yards for a score. Hopkins completed 15-of-25 passes for 103 yards with two interceptions. All told, UAB (6-3, 3-2) managed just 173 yards against the Golden Eagles, the second consecutive game Southern Miss had held an opponent to less than 200 yards total offense and less than 10 points. The only points the Blazers managed came on a third-quarter sack of Abraham in the end zone, with offensive lineman Drake Dorbeck swatting the fumble through the back of the end zone. Kevin Perkins led the Southern Miss ground game with 94 yards on just six carries, including a 79-yard jaunt in the fourth quarter that set up Jones’ first TD catch of the season. Jones had a game-high six catches for 67 yards, while Watkins had five catches for 87 yards.
Sat., Oct. 16 @ 3:30 pm ET
WKU Hilltoppers at Old Dominion Monarchs
NOTING THE GAME
WKU and Old Dominion are set to face off for the seventh time, with the Hilltoppers holding a 5-1 all-time series advantage. On similar trajectories over the past 10-plus years, the Hilltoppers became full FBS members in 2009, while the Monarchs began their football program in 2009. After being a member of the Sun Belt Conference from 2009-13, WKU moved to Conference USA prior to the 2014 campaign – the same season Old Dominion emerged from their FBS transition year after being FCS independent in 2009 and 2010, then a member of the Colonial Athletic Association in 2011 and 2012. The Hilltoppers won the first four matchups in the head-to-head series, with the average final score of 53.8-to-34. WKU was on its way to improving to 5-0, but suffered a stunning, 37-34 loss to the Monarchs on three untimed downs at the end of regulation in the 2018 matchup. But the Hilltoppers got their revenge in 2019, as WKU traveled to S.B. Ballard Stadium and stymied Old
Dominion’s offense, winning by a score of 20-3.
• WKU improved to 5-1 all-time against Old Dominion, including 3-0 in Norfolk. The teams began playing in 2014 when the Hilltoppers joined C-USA and played once per year to that point.
• WKU held Old Dominion to three points, the fewest for the Monarchs since Oct. 14, 2017 in a 35-3 loss at Marshall. It was the fewest points allowed by the Hilltoppers since Oct. 29, 2016 in a 52-3 win at Florida Atlantic.
• WKU held Old Dominion to 160 total yards of offense, the first time a Hilltopper defense has held an opponent to under 200 total yards since Nov. 11, 2015 in a 63-7 win at FIU (168). It was the fifth-fewest yards allowed by WKU since 2007.
POWER FIVE WINS
• With their 45-19 victory at Arkansas in 2019, the Hilltoppers joined Houston and Temple as only the third non-Power Five FBS program to defeat Power Five teams with four different head coaches since 2010:
• Tyson Helton (W, 45-19 at Arkansas on Nov. 9, 2019)
• Jeff Brohm (W, 14-12 at Vanderbilt on Sept. 3, 2015)
• Bobby Petrino (W, 35-26 vs. Kentucky on Aug. 31, 2013)
• Willie Taggart (W, 32-31 [OT] at Kentucky on Sept. 15, 2012)
Old Dominion Monarchs
• Old Dominion returns home after a two-game road trip to host Western Kentucky on Saturday, Oct. 16 at 3:30 p.m. for homecoming.
• ODU led 13-6 late in the fourth quarter at Marshall, but Grant Wells hit Willie Johnson for a 52-yard touchdown pass with 33 seconds left. Nick Rice’s 58-yard field goal was short to send the game to overtime. Wells hit Sadeed Ahmed for 22-yard touchdown to give the Herd the 20-13 overtime win.
• Running back Blake Watson had a career afternoon, doubling his career-high in rushing yards with 168 on a career-high 20 attempts. His previous career-best was 81
yards two weeks ago against Buffalo.
• The Marshall offense came into the game fourth in the country 540 yards offense but the ODU defense held them to 390 total yards.
• After missing the UTEP game, Ryan Henry returned against Marshall with a career-high 12 tackles.
• Terry Jones, Cory Jackson and Sokoya McDuffie also registered career-bests in tackles. Jones had nine and a TFL, Jackson had seven and half a tackle for loss, and McDuffie notched six, including his first career sack
• Linebacker Jordan Young had five tackles and a tackle for loss. He is fourth in school history with 286 career tackles. He is 55 stops away from tying Craig Wilkins’ school record of 340 career tackles.
An ODU win would mean:
• Make ODU 2-5 on the year
• Make ODU 2-5 all-time against WKU
This will be the seventh all-time meeting between ODU and WKU. All but one have been high-scoring affairs. ODU’s only victory in the series featured one of the craziest endings in college football history. A brief recap. ODU trailed 34-27 with eight seconds left. Blake LaRussa hits Travis Fulgham for six-yard TD pass and Nick Rice PAT ties the score at 37.
WKU completed a pass to its own 45, and an incomplete pass ended regulation, except ODU’s Pat Toal was called for roughing the passer. WKU brought in kicker Alex Rinella for a 57-yard field goal that was close, but short. But this time ODU was flagged for 12 men on the field. Rinella’s 52-yard attempt was well short, and Isaiah Harper, the 2017 C-USA Special Teams Player of the Year, returned it to the WKU 17. Regulation Over. But again, not yet. This time, a facemask penalty on the
tackle of Harper, left one untimed down for Rice to drill the game-winning 26-yard field goal
Year Opponent Score
2014 at WKU L, 66-51
2015 WKU L, 55-30
2016 at WKU L, 59-24
2017 WKU L, 35-31
2018 at WKU W, 37-34
2019 WKU L, 20-3
Sat., Oct. 16 @ 5:00 pm CT
Rice Owls at UTSA Roadrunners
INSIDE THE SERIES • This is the ninth meeting between the two schools, the last eight as members of Conference USA.
• The schools met for eight consecutive years (1 non-conference and seven in C-USA) before last year’s meeting was cancelled due to COVID-19 related issues.
• The eight-games streak was one of the three longest vs. conference teams (UTEP 21, LA Tech 8) were all snapped due to COVID issues last year.
• UTSA leads the series 5-3 (5-2 in C-USA) and has won five straight. They have split the four games played at Rice Stadium.
• The two first met on 10/13/12 in a non-conference game that was part of Rice’s Centennial Celebration, with Rice winning 34-14.
• Rice won the initial meeting as members of C-USA, 27-20 in 2013. Later that season, UTSA’s 21-13 win at North Texas broke a tie between Rice and UNT and allowed Rice to capture the C-USA West and advance to the C-USA Championship game.
The Owls opened C-USA play with a win for the first time since 2017 with their 24-19 victory over Southern Miss on October 2. The win was also their sixth in the last nine conference games. They come into Saturday looking to open a C-USA season with consecutive wins for the first time since 2015 (North Texas, @FAU), win their conference road opener for the first time since 2017 (UTEP) and win three consecutive games for the first time since 2019. The Owls have won four of their last five C-USA road contests (2019 @Middle Tennessee & UTEP; 2020 @Southern Miss & Marshall).
Rice is 54-72 (.429) in Conference USA since joining the league in 2005. Rice has an overall mark of 31-31 in Conference USA at Rice Stadium, 0-1 at NRG Stadium and 23-40 on the road.
PICKING THEM OFF
Rice picked off four passes vs. Southern Miss, their highest total in a home game since the swiped five vs. Hawai’i in 2000 and their most in any game since they picked off five at Marshall last December. Those two efforts give the Owls nine interceptions in their last three conference games. Rice has also picked off at least one pass in the last three games, their longest streak since they had three at the start of the 2013 season. The 2013 Owls also had a streak of four consecutive games later that same year. The Owls have seven interceptions this season, their most since they had eight in 2018. The last time they had nine was in 2014 and the last time they reached double figures was in 2013 when they finished the 14 on their way to winning the C-USA title. A total of six Owls have an interception this season, matching the total from last year. The last time they had more than six players with an interception in a season was in 2014 when seven players picked off at least one pass.
SETTING ‘EM BACK
Rice’s five sacks and nine total tackles for loss vs. Southern Miss were the most for the Owls under DC Brian Smith and their most sacks since they had five vs. FIU in 2017 and most tackles for loss since they had nine vs. North Texas that same year. Through five games, Rice defenders have 12 sacks and 25 tackles for loss, surpassing total for the five games of the 2020 season (7 & 22).
George Nyakwol’s interception on the first Southern Miss possession of the game allowed Rice to extend its streak to 16 conference games in which it has held the opponent scoreless on their first possession. The last team to score against the Owls on the first drive of the game was UTEP in 2018.
Josh Pearcy (11) and Trey Schuman (10) each recorded their first double-digit tackle game vs. Southern Miss. Rice now has four players to be credited with a least 10 tackles in a game this year, joining Antonio Montero (twice) and Treshawn Chamberlain and seven active Owls have not topped that mark at least once (Kirk Lockhart, 2020; George Nyakwol 2018; Kenneth Orji 2019).
The Owls fashioned 21 plays of more than 10 yards vs. Texas Southern, 10 came on the ground and 11 through the air. Seven of the 11 pass plays came in the first half while nine of the 10 rushing plays came in the second half. A total of 10 players either rushed or received a pass for a gain of at least 10 yards, including six on the ground (Luke McCaffrey 3; Ari Broussard & Jordan Myers 2; Jake Bailey, Khalan Griffin and Brendan Suckley 1). Jordan Myers led the team with five total plays of 10+ yards, followed by Bailey (4), McCaffrey (3), Broussard and Cedric Patterson III (2) while Jack Bradley, Jaeger Bull, Griffin, Cameron Montgomery and Suckley each had one.
« OPENING DRIVE »
+ UTSA is 6-0 for the first time in school history and currently is riding a program record-tying six-game winning streak.
+ The Roadrunners are bowl eligible for the second straight and fourth overall season.
+ UTSA is one of 13 undefeated and bowl-eligible FBS teams as of Oct. 9.
+ Head coach Jeff Traylor is 13-5 at the helm of the Roadrunners, the best 18-game start for a UTSA coach.
+ UTSA has won nine of its last 10 contests dating back to last season.
+ The Roadrunners are receiving votes in both the USA TODAY Sports AFCA Coaches (30) and AP Top 25 (22) Polls.
+ Saturday will mark the ninth meeting between UTSA and Rice, which will for one week match the Louisiana Tech series as the most played in school history.
+ UTSA has won the last five meetings with the Owls and leads the all-time series, 5-3.
+ The Roadrunners have won their last two Homecoming games and are 6-4 all time.
SETTING THE SCENE
Off to the best start in school history, UTSA will host Rice for Homecoming this Saturday, Oct. 16. Kickoff for the ninth meeting between the Roadrunners (6-0, 2-0 C-USA) and Owls (2-3, 1-0) is set for 5 p.m. at the Alamodome and the game will air on ESPN+ and Ticket 760 AM. One of 13 undefeated and bowl-eligible FBS teams, UTSA has won nine of its last 10 games and is riding a program record-tying six-game winning streak. The Roadrunners have been victorious in six straight contests at the Alamodome and are 6-4 all time in Homecoming games. For more information regarding UTSA’s Homecoming Week, please visit utsa.edu/homecoming.
ROADRUNNERS OFF TO RECORD START
UTSA is off to a 6-0 start for the first time in program history, bettering the 2012 team that won its first five games. The Roadrunners have won nine of their last 10 contests dating back to last season and the current six-game winning streak is tied for the school record accomplished twice previously. UTSA won six straight games starting with the 2011 finale against Minot State and including the 5-0 start to the 2012 campaign. The Roadrunners matched that streak by winning their last five contests in 2013 and the 2014 season opener at Houston.
UTSA IN HOMECOMING GAMES
The Roadrunners are 6-4 all time in Homecoming games during their history. UTSA has won its last two such contests, routing UTEP 52-21 on Nov. 14, 2020, and holding off Rice 31-27 two years ago. The Roadrunners also beat the Owls 20-7 in the 2017 Homecoming game.
UTSA’s Homecoming Games
Date Opponent Score
9/24/11 Bacone W, 54-7
10/20/12 San Jose State L, 24-52
10/26/13 UAB W, 52-31
10/11/14 FIU W, 16-13
11/7/15 Old Dominion L, 31-36
10/22/16 UTEP L, 49-52 (5OT)
10/21/17 Rice W, 20-7
10/13/18 Louisiana Tech L, 3-31
10/19/19 Rice W, 31-27
11/14/20 UTEP W, 52-21
Saturday will mark the ninth meeting between UTSA and Rice, which for one week will tie it with the Louisiana Tech series as the most played in program history. The
Roadrunners have won the last five matchups against the Owls and lead the all-time series 5-3. Rice won the first three meetings in 2012-14 before UTSA started its
current five-game winning streak in the series. Last year’s contest was canceled due to COVID-19 protocols within the UTSA program.
UTSA/Rice Series History
Date Location Score
10/13/12 Houston L, 14-34
10/12/13 San Antonio L, 21-27
11/8/14 Houston L, 7-17
11/21/15 San Antonio W, 34-24
10/15/16 Houston W, 14-13
10/21/17 San Antonio W, 20-7
10/6/18 Houston W, 20-3
10/19/19 San Antonio W, 31-27
Now in their 11th season of play, the Roadrunners will play the 125th game in program history on Saturday when they face Rice for the annual Homecoming game. UTSA is 58-66 all time and 34-28 at the Alamodome. By comparison, Rice has been playing football since 1912 and owns an all-time record of 474-607-32
Sat., Oct. 16 @ 7:00 pm MT
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs at UTEP Miners
Overall………………………………………………………..LA Tech leads, 14-2-1
Ruston …………………………………………………………….. LA Tech leads, 7-1
El Paso………………………………………………………….. LA Tech leads, 7-1-1
First Meeting………………………UTEP 27, LA Tech 0 (El Paso, 1939)
Last Meeting…………………….LA Tech 21, UTEP 17 (Ruston, 2020)
Streak………………………………………………………………………………LA Tech 8
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
Louisiana Tech returns to Conference USA play on Saturday, Oct. 16, as the Bulldogs take on UTEP at 8 p.m. CT.
LA Tech has won eight straight games against the Miners which is tied for Tech’s second longest active win streak against any opponent.
Louisiana Tech has never lost to UTEP as C-USA foes.
Louisiana Tech is 20-6 in C-USA games played during the month of October. Tech is a combined 28-9 in C-USA games played in the months of September and October.
For the first time in program history, LA Tech’s first five games of the 2021 campaign have been decided by a single possession.
Louisiana Tech head coach Skip Holtz earned his 150th career win as a FBS head coach in the 45-42 victory over Southeastern (Sept. 11).
Tech senior linebacker Ezekiel Barnett appeared in his 50th career game as a Louisiana Tech Bulldog at then-No. 23 NC State. The former walk-on has appeared in 50 games since 2017, including 18 starts at linebacker.
LA Tech senior defensive back Zeno Hannibal is on track to appear in his 50th game as a Bulldog on Saturday. The Monroe, La., native has appeared in 49 games since 2017, including 10 starts at cornerback.
Since joining the league in 2013, Louisiana Tech leads Conference USA with 205 forced turnovers.
For LA Tech quarterbacks in their first four games, graduate quarterback Austin Kendall ranks second in passing yards with 1,178, third in passing touchdowns with 10 and is tied for the most total touchdowns with 13.
Freshman wide receiver Tre Harris became the first Bulldog to register a 100-yard reception game this season after posting 102 receiving yards against SMU on Sept. 18.
Four Bulldog wide receivers have registered over 200 receiving yards this season in freshman Tre Harris (267), redshirt freshman Bub Means (254), sophomore Smoke Harris (244) and graduate Samuel Emilus (215). >> LA Tech’s three starting linebackers have each registered double-digit stops in a game this season as freshman
Tyler Grubbs had 13 tackles against SMU (Sept. 18), senior Trey Baldwin had 11 at No. 23 NC State (Oct. 2) and senior Ezekiel Barnett had 10 against SMU (Sept. 18)
Brothers Levi Bell and Ben Bell have combined for six of the LA Tech’s nine sacks this season. L. Bell has registered 3.0 sacks for a loss of 25 yards, while B. Bell has 3.0 total sacks for a loss of 13 yards.
Louisiana Tech added 19 total transfers this offseason with 11 on offense, six on defense and two on special teams.
LEADING THE LEAGUE IN TAKEAWAYS
Since joining the league in 2013, Louisiana Tech leads Conference USA with 205 forced turnovers.
TAKING IT AWAY
Louisiana Tech has forced at least one turnover in 92 of 107 games played under the direction of head coach Skip Holtz: » Have forced at least one turnover in 92 of 107 games (86.8 percent) » Have forced multiple turnovers in 60 of 107 games (56.6 percent) » Have forced 3+ turnovers in 34 of 107 games (32.1 percent) » Have forced 4+ turnovers in 16 of 107 games » 22 Pick 6’s » 28 defensive touchdowns
Since 2017, seven Bulldogs have combined to record 15 pick-sixes which is the most in the country during that span. 2017 Darryl Lewis (2) 2020 Ezekiel Barnett (1)
Amik Robertson (1) Khalil Ladler (1) DaMarion King (1) 2021 Trey Baldwin (1) Trey Spencer (1) BeeJay Williamson (1) 2018 L’Jarius Sneed (1) 2019 Amik Robertson (2) Ezekiel Barnett (1) L’Jarius Sneed (1) James Jackson (1)
PICK SIX-U – PART II
Louisiana Tech registered a pick six in its first two games of the 2021 season (Trey Baldwin at Mississippi State; BeeJay Williamson vs. Southeastern).
PICKING IT OFF
Louisiana Tech has posted an interception in 14 of its last 19 games. Two Bulldogs have registered at least one interception this season in senior linebacker Trey
Baldwin (1 at Mississippi State, Sept. 4) and sophomore defensive back BeeJay Williamson (2 vs. Southeastern, Sept. 11).
MINERS AT A GLANCE
WIN NO. 6 IN SIGHT AS MINERS PUT THREE-GAME WINNING STREAK ON LINE AGAINST LA TECH SATURDAY NIGHT It’s been seven seasons, but 5-1 UTEP (2-0 Conference USA) is one win away from bowl eligibility. The Miners will look to chalk up win no. 6 when they host LA Tech (2-3, 1-0 C-USA) on Saturday night. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. in the Sun Bowl.
UTEP is 5-1 fore the first time since the 2010 season. It’s the eighth time in program history the Miners have started 5-1 (1930, 1953, 1956, 1987, 1988, 2005, 2010, 2021).
FIRST TIME SINCE 2008
UTEP is out its first start of 2-0 in Conference USA action since 2008 and the fourth occasion since joining the league in 2005 (2006, 2007, 2008 and 2021).
UTEP-LA TECH SERIES HISTORY
UTEP will take on LA Tech for the 18th time overall. The Bulldogs own a 14-2-1 record versus the Miners. UTEP is looking for its first win versus LA Tech in 17 years. The Miners’ lone win in El Paso happened during the 1939 season.
PROTECTING OUR QB, HARASSING OUR OPPONENTS’ QB
UTEP ranks 12th in FBS and first in C-USA in sacks allowed per game (1.00). The Miners’ defense ranks second in C-USA and 36th nationally in sacks per game (2.7). UTEP’s 16 total sacks rank tied for 25th in FBS.
DOMINANT UTEP DEFENSE
The UTEP defense ranks no. 1 Conference USA and 16th in FBS in total defense (300.7 ypg). The Miners also rank first in C-USA and 22nd nationally in third-down defense (31.7 percent). UTEP’s defense ranks first in C-USA in scoring defense (22.0), while its run defense ranks second in C-USA and 15th in FBS (93.2 ypg).
The Miners’ last thee-game winning streak came during the 2014 season. The last four-game winning streak was during the 2010 season. The last five-game winning streak was in 2005. The Miners won seven in a row in 2004.
Overall: LT leads 14-2-1
El Paso: LT 7-1-1
Ruston: LT leads 7-1
First Meeting: UTEP won 27-0 in El Paso (Nov. 18, 1939)
Last Meeting: LT won 21-17 in Ruston (Oct. 10, 2020)
Streak: LT, W8
Stadium: Sun Bowl Stadium
Surface: Artificial (Classic HD CoolPlay)
Talking 5-1 Starts
UTEP has bolted out to its first 5-1 start since the 2010 season and only the fifth occasion since 1968. The Miners previously won at least five of their first six games in 2005 (8-1, finished 8-4), 1988 (8-1, finished 10-3) and 1987 (5-1, finished 7-4) in that timeframe.
Turning It Around In C-USA
UTEP is out its first start of 2-0 in Conference USA action since 2008 and the fourth occasion since joining the league in 2005 (2006, 2007, 2008 and 2021). The effort has also allowed the Miners to surpass their total number of league wins from the first three years of head coach Dana Dimel’s tenure and to match their total from the past four seasons overall of conference competition. The Miners were a combined 1-27 in league games from 2017-20, including 1-19 under Dimel.
Closing Out Wins
In all five of its wins on the season, the Miners have possessed the ball for at least nine minutes of the fourth quarter. The ball-control offense has allowed UTEP to salt away victories, evidenced by a +14 (37-23) combined scoring margin in the fourth quarter this year. Most recently the Orange and Blue had possession for 9:23 in the victory at Southern Miss on Oct. 9.
UTEP has won three straight contests for the first time since the 2014 season when it also peeled off three in a row. The last occasion the Orange and Blue have enjoyed a four-game winning streak was in 2010.
Back-To-Back Wins In October
UTEP is ranked 31st nationally and second in Conference USA in total defense (310.0 ypg allowed). The Miners also rate 26th nationally and second in C-USA
in third-down conversion percentage (31.9), and 37th nationally and third in the league in fourth-down conversion percentage (40.0). UTEP’s rush defense ranks 29th in FBS and third in C-USA (108.8 ypg allowed). The Miners’ scoring defense (23.8) ranks third in C-USA.
Putting Up The Points
UTEP has surpassed 25 points in consecutive conference contests for the first time in three years (2018), but that year the Miners were 1-1 in those contests. The last occasion that UTEP scored 25+ points in back-to-back league wins was a three-game surge in 2014.
Shutting Them Down
UTEP has given up a total of 34 points through the first two Conference USA contests. It marks the smallest combined sum through the initial two league contests since allowing 27 points in wins against SMU (37-20, 9/9/00) and Hawaii (39-7, 9/23/00). Coincidentally, that 2000 team will be honored in UTEP’s match-up against LA Tech on Saturday (Oct. 16).
Can’t Score On Us
Three straight opponents have been held to 21 points or less during UTEP victories for the first time since also doing so in 2010. The last time that the Miners
have enjoyed a four-game winning streak in which their foes were limited to 21 points or fewer was way back in 1966.
Playing From Ahead
UTEP never trailed in the win at Southern Miss on Oct. 9, something it hadn’t done in a league road contest since a 34-26 victory at Rice on Nov. 3, 2018. That was also that last time that the Orange and Blue had won a C-USA road contest.
UTEP returns home to play host to LA Tech on Saturday (Oct. 16). The Miners enter the game at 3-0 in the Sun City, something they haven’t done since a 4-0 start in the Sun Bowl in 2010. UTEP has won those games by an average of eight points (28.7-20.7), while outpacing the opposition by 80 yards on average (382.0-302.0) of total offense.
COWING REACHES CENTURY MARK for 9th time
Jacob Cowing hauled in four receptions for a 118 yards against Old Dominion on Oct. 2. He added a 51-yard reception against the Monarchs. Cowing also hit the century mark for the ninth time during his career. He ranks eighth on the 100-yard games’ list. Chuck Hughes (1964-66) leads the program with 13 100-yard games.
One of the Top WR’s in the Nation
Jacob Cowing ranks third in Conference USA in receiving yards (609) while ranking seventh nationally in that department. Cowing’s 101.5 yards per game ranks third in the league and 10th nationally. Cowing’s yards per reception (23.4) ranks second in C-USA and third in FBS. WKU’s Jerreth Sterns (148.2) leads the nation in yards per game. Memphis’ Calvin Austin III leads the nation in total receiving yards (837), while Sterns leads C-USA (741).
All About That Consistency
WR Jacob Cowing has been Mr. Consistency since arriving on campus in 2019. He has caught a pass 24 straight games, with at least two receptions in the last 18 contests of the streak. The only time of his UTEP career that Cowing failed to make a catch came in his second appearance, a 38-3 loss at Big 12 power Texas Tech on Sept. 7, 2019.
Rare WR Rushing Score
WR Jacob Cowing registered a 53-yard rushing touchdown at Southern Miss. He’s the first UTEP wide receiver since Autrey Golden in 2015 to score on a rushing play. His 53-yard run was the longest by a UTEP WR since Eddie Sinegal’s 42-yard rush in 2016, while it’s the longest rush by a UTEP WR in the modern era.
Gavin Going Deep
Gavin Hardison has averaged 9.81 yards per attempt through six games in 2021, a huge jump from his average of 7.1 in 2020. The effort rank second in Conference USA and is 10th in the country. He also has eight touchdown tosses, the most he’s thrown in a season as a Miner.
Gavin Hardison ranks second in Conference USA and second in FBS, averaging 17.6 yards per completion. FIU’s Max Bortenschlager leads the nation at 19.5.
UTEP ranks tied12th in FBS and first in Conference USA in sacks allowed per game (1.00). The Miners are tied with UTSA, while SMU leads the nation (0.17).
Chunks of Yards Per Completion
UTEP quarterbacks rank first in Conference USA and fourth nationally in yards per completion (17.4). Air Force leads the nation at 25.6.