Two more teams earned bowl eligibility in what was an interesting week for the schools of Conference USA.
Halloween night opened the weekend as division-leading Rice traveled to Denton to face North Texas. The Mean Green were looking to become bowl eligible in front of a national audience, and they did just that. Rice had jumped out to an early 16-7 lead in the second quarter but the Mean Green answered by scoring the final 21 points of the contest to win 28-16. With the victory, North Texas is now bowl eligible for the first time since 2004.
Another nightmare season for Southern Miss continued on Saturday as they traveled to Huntington, West Virginia to face Marshall. This game was over after the first quarter as the Thundering Herd jumped out to a 28-0 lead and never looked back. Marshall QB Rakeem Cato picked the Golden Eagles’ defense apart as he threw for five touchdown passes on the afternoon to lead his team to the blowout victory, 61-13.
Rushing attacks were on full display in the matchup between Middle Tennessee and UAB on Saturday afternoon. This game saw a running back from each squad reach the 150-yard plateau, but it was the Blue Raiders that used their running game to come from behind and defeat the Blazers 24-21.
Defending Conference USA champions Tulsa were in action on Saturday as they played host to newcomer UTSA. The Roadrunners used 286 rushing yards and four takeaways to completely dominate the Golden Hurricane 34-15. Tulsa must win the rest of their games this season to earn bowl eligibility.
Florida Atlantic made headlines earlier in the week as it was announced that Head Coach Carl Pelini resigned following his use of illegal drugs. The Owls had to put the news behind them as they faced a tough Tulane team in FAU’s Homecoming game on Saturday. After a sluggish start that saw the Green Wave jump out to a 17-7 lead at halftime, Florida Atlantic came to life in the second half by scoring the final 27 points to win the game 34-17.
East Carolina was looking to become bowl eligible on Saturday as they traveled to Miami to face FIU. This game was a close contest for three quarters but the Pirates proved to be the superior squad as they pulled away in the fourth quarter to win the game 34-13.
UTEP went out-of-conference this weekend as they faced in-state rival #12 Texas A&M in College Station. The Miners jumped out to an early 7-2 lead but it was short-lived as Johnny Manziel and the Aggies dominated the rest of the game. Texas A&M scored 55 unanswered points as they won the game in a route 57-7.
Future Conference USA member Western Kentucky traveled to Atlanta on Saturday as they faced off with lowly Georgia State. Bobby Petrino returned to the Georgia Dome for the first time since he resigned suddenly as the the Atlanta Falcons Head Coach in 2007. The Hilltoppers ended their two-game winless streak as they defeated the Panthers somewhat easily 44-28. WKU needs one more victory to become bowl eligible.
Old Dominion‘s transitional season continued on Saturday as they faced a former CAA rival Rhode Island. The Monarchs made easy work of the Rams as they blew them out 66-14.