This weekend saw two somewhat surprising teams become bowl eligible in Conference USA.
Kicking off the weekend on Thursday was a matchup between two teams that were once considered the favorite to win the East. Marshall made the trip down to Murfreesboro to face the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders in their annual “Blackout” game. This shootout ended in dramatic fashion as Middle Tennessee QB Logan Kilgore threw the game winning, 9-yard TD pass to WR Tavarres Jefferson as time expired to beat the Thunder Herd 51-49. Marshall now sits a half game behind ECU in the East division standings.
Rice was looking to become the first Conference USA team of the season to earn bowl eligibility as they faced in-state rival UTEP on Saturday. This game was never in doubt as the Owls completely dominated the Miners to win the game 45-7. Rice is now 6-2 on the season and sits atop the West division standings at (4-0).
Tulane was trying to keep pace with Rice in the West division as they took on defending Conference USA champion Tulsa on Saturday. The Green Wave used three interceptions of Golden Hurricane QB Dane Evans to shut out Tulsa in the second half to win the game 14-7. With the win, Tulane is now bowl eligible for the first time since 2002 and are tied with Rice at 4-0 atop the West division standings.
UTSA welcomed UAB into the Alamo Dome for the first time on Saturday afternoon. The Roadrunners jumped all over the Blazers in the first quarter as they raced out to a 24-0 lead. UAB racked up over 500-yards of total offense but could not overcome their turnovers or the early deficit as they fell 52-31 on the road. UTSA still has an outside shot at becoming bowl eligible as they sit with a record of 3-5 after the victory.
Louisiana Tech continued their rebuilding season as they traveled to Miami to face the struggling Golden Panthers of FIU. The Bulldogs put their hopes of victory squarely on the shoulders of their best player, RB Kenneth Dixon, and he responded. Dixon racked up 183 yards of total offense as Louisiana Tech defeated FIU somewhat easily 23-7.
The surprising season of North Texas continued as they traveled to Hattiesburg to face lowly Southern Miss on Saturday night. The Mean Green racked up 529 yards of total offense as they throttled the Golden Eagles, 55-14. Southern Miss had hoped that starting freshman QB Nick Mullens for this game would jumpstart their struggling offense, but that was not the case as he threw three interceptions on the night. The Golden Eagles are now 0-7 on the season and are officially eliminated from becoming bowl eligible.
Florida Atlantic went out of conference this weekend as they traveled to Auburn to face the 11th-ranked Tigers. This game would be over by halftime as Auburn’s high-powered offense ran all over the Owls defense to win the game 45-10.
Future member Western Kentucky‘s roller coaster season continued on Saturday as they played host to Troy. The Hilltoppers let a 20-10 halftime lead slip away as the Trojans roared back in the second half to win the game 32-26.
The Monarchs of Old Dominion were also in action on Saturday as they faced cross-town rival Norfolk State. The Spartans gave the Monarchs all they could handle as they scored a go-ahead touchdown early in the fourth quarter to make the score 24-17. The Monarchs answered by scoring the final 10 points of the game, including the game winning field goal as time expired, to beat Norfolk State 27-24.