Non-conference record: 15-26
Non-conference record vs. FBS opponents: 12-25
Non-conference record vs. FBS automatic qualifiers: 3-18
C-USA in the polls: AP Writers – None; USA Today Coaches – None
Middle Tennessee – The first season in a new conference is always difficult. The Blue Raiders weathered a tough C-USA debut game to win their first conference contest against Florida Atlantic, a team probably talented enough to be a tough out for most C-USA teams.
Four games into the season, MTSU is halfway to the magical six-win mark for bowl eligibility. And with the conference schedule ahead, the Raiders look like a solid contender to reach the bowl it could get to as a member of the Sun Belt.
Tommy Shuler – Everyone in Lane Stadium, especially the Virginia Tech defense, knew the Marshall wide receiver was going to get the ball thrown his way. And against one of the best secondaries in college football, he caught 10 passes for 120 yards. To put it in perspective, Shuler’s receiving total was just 38 fewer yards than East Carolina’s total passing yards against the Hokies. That’s impressive.
Combine an insane work ethic with his ability to find holes in coverage and his close relationship with quarterback Rakeem Cato, and Shuler becomes one of the toughest guys in the league to defend.
UTSA – As others wrote this weekend, the Roadrunners won one more C-USA game than anyone figured they’d win this season in beating UTEP, 32-13. Let’s be honest, UTSA likely won’t have the season MTSU will have as a conference newcomer. Playing Houston, Marshall and Rice over the next three weeks won’t help. But if the Roadrunners, a team that played its first game ever in 2011, can flirt with the six-win mark sometime this season, they should look at that as a big first step.
Tulane special teams – A pair of blocked punts gave Syracuse the ball on the Green Wave 6 and 17 on a pair of first-half drives. The Orange scored touchdowns on both in a 52-17 Tulane loss. Then the Green Wave couldn’t keep Syracuse from blocking a Cairo Santos field goal. Any way you slice it, that’s just awful.
Jamiell Showers – The UTEP quarterback isn’t asked to do much with his arm, but maybe that’s because he hasn’t done much when he has used it. The Miners are tied for 108th in the FBS with 163.7 passing yards per game. And against a UTSA team that wasn’t even a team before 2011, he completed 17 of 31 passes for just 119 yards, a paltry 3.8 yards per attempt. You’d wonder whether UTEP could win a game this season … until you remembered that Florida International is on the schedule.
FIU – I know, I know. I said last week I wouldn’t put the Panthers back on this list unless they did something epically awful. I think losing 72-0 to Louisville fits that bill.
It got so bad that reports emerged that FIU Coach Ron Turner asked for a running clock in the third quarter, something you see in high school blowouts. He didn’t, but the fact that rumor was even considered plausible tells you all you need to know about FIU’s prospects this season. The Panthers are neck and neck with Georgia State as the FBS’ worst football team. Pete Garcia fired Mario Cristobal for this? And how much longer should Garcia hold his job?
Redd’s C-USA Title Game Prediction Destined to Fail – Rice at Marshall