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November 11, 2010

Week 11: C-USA, MAC, SBC, WAC and Indy

MORE PREVIEWS: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | MWC | Pac-10 | SEC

THE EIGHT BEST GAMES
Thursday
East Carolina at UAB, 8 p.m.
Saturday
Southern Miss at UCF, noon
Army at Kent State, 2 p.m.
Utah at Notre Dame, 2:30 p.m.
Florida International at Troy, 3:30 p.m.
Tulsa at Houston, 8 p.m.
Nevada at Fresno State, 10:30 p.m.
Tuesday
Ohio U. at Temple, 8 p.m.

One half of the MAC looks to have been decided; we'll need to wait until next Tuesday for the same thing to happen on the other side of the league.

Northern Illinois crushed Toledo 65-30 on Tuesday night, basically wrapping up the MAC West title. NIU now only needs to beat one-win Eastern Michigan or three-win Ball State to officially clinch the division title and move on to the MAC title game.

Toledo had won 14 of the previous 16 meetings, but NIU scored on its first possession and never really was threatened. NIU led 28-0 before the Rockets scored.

"I didn't have to do a lot of motivating for this game," said NIU coach Jerry Kill, whose team ran for 422 yards and finished with 584 total yards.

It was the Huskies' seventh consecutive win following a six-point loss at Illinois on Sept. 18. NIU's other loss came to Iowa State in the opener.

Next Tuesday, Temple plays host to Ohio U. The winner takes a huge step toward the MAC East title. Ohio beat Temple for the division crown last season.

Both teams prefer to run the ball and sometimes struggle to throw. But a quarterback change at Temple, to sophomore Mike Gerardi, has paid off in the passing game. In his last game, just his third career start, Gerardi threw for 368 yards and two TDs against Kent State.

Meanwhile, Ohio coach Frank Solich said Bobcats starting QB Boo Jackson is questionable for the Temple game because of the injuries he suffered during a brawl outside a pizza restaurant last Friday. The brawl involved football players and restaurant employees -- reports say Solich went to the scene in an attempt to disperse his players -- but police in Athens, Ohio, said they don't plan to charge anyone because the stories vary so wildly. Iowa State transfer Phil Bates, a strong runner but a poor passer, would get the start if Jackson can't go.

Best matchup: Army rush offense vs. Kent State rush defense. Kent State leads the nation in rush defense, allowing just 69.3 yards per game; only two teams (Penn State and Toledo) have reached 100 yards against the Golden Flashes. But Army is No. 8 nationally in rush offense, at 277.2 yards per game, with its triple-option attack. Army is one win away from bowl eligibility, and getting that win against Kent State is going to require at least a 200-yard day on the ground by the Black Knights.

Player on the spot: Tulsa QB G.J. Kinne. Kinne is averaging 303.8 yards of total offense per game; he has thrown 20 TD passes and also has run for four scores. In the past five games, which includes a win at Notre Dame, Kinne has thrown nine TD passes and no interceptions. Four of his six picks this season have come in two of Tulsa's three losses. Houston's pass defense has made big strides this season, and Tulsa needs Kinne to play a relatively mistake-free game. This game should be in the 30s and maybe even low 40s, meaning each team needs to maximize its possessions.

Numbers game: Tulsa junior WR Damaris Johnson had 322 all-purpose yards and scored three touchdowns in last week's 64-27 victory over Rice. He became the C-USA record-holder for career kickoff-return yardage with 3,054 yards and needs only 65 yards to become the NCAA's career leader in that category; Western Michigan RB Brandon West (2006-09) holds the record with 3,118. Johnson also is 10th on the NCAA's career all-purpose yardage list with 6,824. West holds that record at 7,764.

What they're saying

Marshall tragedy: 40 years later

Sunday is the 40th anniversary of the plane crash that took the lives of 71 people associated with the Marshall football program on Nov. 14, 1970. A chartered jet went down short of the runway in Huntington, W.Va., killing all 75 people aboard, including four crew members and one person employed by the charter company.

The plane was carrying 37 players, 12 coaches and administrators and 21 boosters. Reports have it that 70 children lost at least one parent in the crash, and 18 children were orphaned.

Every Nov. 14, there is a service at the Memorial Fountain in the center of campus to remember those who died in the crash. During the ceremony, the water that flows through the fountain is turned off for the winter.

During Saturday's game with Memphis, Marshall will recognize the 1970 cheerleaders and three members of the '70 coaching staff who were not on the flight -- Mickey Jackson, Carl Kokor and Red Dawson.

"There are bigger programs in America than what Marshall University is, but there is not a program in America where the football team and the football program means more to the fan base and more to the university and the community and more to the school because of what we have gone through," Marshall coach Doc Holliday said on this week's C-USA coaches' teleconference.

"We have a plan, we have a defense, and like I told our team, we average 40, they average 40 but it's not going to be a tie game; they don't allow ties anymore. We've got a plan to disrupt them, they've got a plan to disrupt us." -- Houston coach Kevin Sumlin, on Saturday's game with Tulsa

"Unfortunately, we do not run the triple option." -- UAB coach Neil Callaway, whose team plays East Carolina this week, a week after Navy put up 76 points and 521 rushing yards on the Pirates

"They did their homework. They made it hard to get to our slots. They disguised their pressures very well, and noise was a big factor." -- Hawaii QB Bryant Moniz, to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, after last week's loss at Boise State

"We have to learn that in football when things bad happen, just like in life, you keep going. You have to draw a line in the sand. That's when you have to be your best and not your worse." -- Rice coach David Bailiff

"We're beat up, but we are not any different than anybody else. I'd love to sit here and give you 50 excuses, but it doesn't do any good. We just have to coach better and play better. ... We have to do a better job of getting in position to make plays, and then we have to make them." -- Louisiana Tech coach Sonny Dykes

"Every since their first QB has gotten hurt, they have changed their offense completely. The [Jeffrey] Godfrey kid can throw it and run. He can do everything. I would say they are a spread offense now." -- Southern Miss coach Larry Fedora, on UCF, which plays host to Southern Miss on Saturday

Etc.: UCF is No. 23 in the coaches' poll and No. 25 in The Associated Press poll, marking the first national ranking in school history. ... Boise State has won 20 consecutive WAC games, the longest active winning streak in conference play among FBS schools. TCU is second at 15 and UCF third with 11. ... UTEP senior QB Trevor Vittatoe is scheduled to make his 47th consecutive start Saturday at Arkansas; that's the second-longest current streak for a FBS quarterback, behind Minnesota's Adam Weber (who has made 48 in a row). Vittatoe has started every game of his UTEP career and last week tied Jordan Palmer's school record for touchdowns responsible for with 95. ... Southern Miss has scored at least 40 points in each of its past five games, the first time in school history that has happened. ... Army (5-4) is aiming for its first six-win season since 1996, which also is the last time the Black Knights went to a bowl. ... Louisiana-Monroe redshirt freshman QB Kolton Browning has thrown for 200 yards in eight consecutive games, which ties Stan Humphries for the school record. ... In last week's loss to UCF, Houston senior TE Wesley Scourten blocked his fourth kick of the season and seventh of his career. ... SMU scored on a 99-yard drive in last week's loss to UTEP. It's the third 99-yard drive of the season for the Mustangs. ... Boise State junior QB Kellen Moore threw an incomplete pass on his first attempt of the game (it was dropped), then completed his next 19 in last week's 42-7 victory over Hawaii. He threw three TD passes and now is the school's career leader in that category with 85. ... UCF senior DE Bruce Miller's interception return for a touchdown last week at Houston gave the Knights four this season, which ties a single-season Conference USA record. ... Nevada senior QB Colin Kaepernick is tied for the school record in touchdown passes with 78 (with Eric Beavers, who played from 1983-86). Kaepernick also is one rushing touchdown away from the school record of 53 held by Chris Lemon (1996-99). ... The Alford brothers will get together Saturday in South Bend. Tony is wide receivers coach at Notre Dame and his younger brother Aaron is running backs coach at Utah. ... Buffalo CB Domonic Cook has had a hand in nine turnovers this season. He has three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and six interceptions; his six interceptions have him tied for second in the nation. ... Boise State has scored first in all eight games this season, building double-digit leads six times before allowing a score. Boise State hasn't trailed an opponent since there was 1:10 left in the fourth quarter against Virginia Tech. The Broncos regained the lead at 1:09 and have not trailed since. ... Navy QB Ricky Dobbs has 45 career rushing touchdowns and is tied for eighth with Missouri's Brad Smith for most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in NCAA history. He is two behind Central Michigan's Dan LeFevour, Southwestern Louisiana's Brian Mitchell and West Virginia's Pat White for fifth on the list. ... In each of San Jose State's past two games, the Spartans set season scoring highs. San Jose State scored 18 points in a 33-18 loss to Fresno State, then 27 in a 29-27 decision at New Mexico State. The loss to New Mexico State marked the first time this season San Jose State -- which has been outscored 104-13 in the second quarter -- had scored more than three times in a game. ... Navy is No. 1 in the nation in fewest penalty yards per game, at just 27.0 per game.

Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at mhuguenin@rivals.com.



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