BY NEIL BISMAN
CONFERENCE USA INSIDER
Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and sometimes it rains. Those aren’t just the words of Tim Robbins’ character in the movie “Bull Durham,” it’s a perfect summary for the conference this week. There were good wins, there were bad losses and a game was canceled due to unplayable weather conditions.
Team of the Week- East Carolina: The Pirates were able to improve to 1-1 against ACC foes this season with a 34-31 victory at home against the University of North Carolina. East Carolina gave Virginia Tech quite the scare last week but was able to walk away with a victory following a game-winning 39-yard field goal off the foot of Ben Hartman as time expired. East Carolina quarterback Patrick Pinkney turned in a monster game in his first career start, throwing for 406-yards and three touchdowns. East Carolina gets one more shot against the ACC on October 20th when they get a visit from North Carolina State.
Team of the Weak- Rice: There are two things you never want to do as a member of the Football Bowl Subdivision and they are A) lose to a team that plays in the Division formerly known as 1-AA and B) get blown out by Baylor. The season is only two weeks old and Rice has already “accomplished” both.
Player of the Week- (tie) Patrick Pinkney (ECU) and Justin Willis (SMU): This one was too close to call as Justin Willis racked up 435 yards in total offense and three touchdowns in SMU’s victory over North Texas while Patrick Pinkney had 428 yards total offense and three touchdowns in the Pirates’ “upset” of North Carolina. Pinkney, a former third-string quarterback, was making his first career start while Willis set a career high with his efforts.
Player of the Weak- Sam Hunt (UAB): For the second week in a row Sam Hunt was extremely inefficient in a loss for Alabama-Birmingham, completing only 17 of his 35 passes for 226 yards. The Blazers did a great job of putting their blowout loss at the hands of Michigan State behind them and led for most of the day in Tallahassee. Florida State seemed ripe for an upset but UAB just could not put them away. If Hunt cannot right the ship against Alcorn State this coming Saturday, Coach Calloway may want to contemplate other options for the conference opener at Tulsa.
If only…sophomore stud running back Damion Fletcher (pictured above) of Southern Miss were at full strength for their game at Tennessee. Fletcher was plagued by cramps and forced to sit out most of the second half, which coincidentally is when the Southern Miss offense went flat.
At least they didn’t lose…Hopefully Memphis enjoyed their stay in Jonesboro, Arkansas because they get to do it again on September 27th when they will make up their game against Arkansas State. The game was canceled due to lightning in the area.
If only they stopped the game at halftime…West Virginia played at Marshall for the first time since 1915 and for a while it appeared as though the Mountaineers may not want to return for another 92 years. The Thundering Herd defense kept the two-headed monster of Pat White and Steve Slaton in check early on, leading 13-6 at the half, but was unable to contain them after the half as West Virginia exploded for 42 second-half points.
Will the real Miners please stand up? UTEP followed last week’s 10-6 pitcher’s duel of a victory over New Mexico with a 45-31 loss to Texas Tech. The Miners allowed a ton of yardage by the opposition, which was not much of a change from last week, but were able to finally gain some yards themselves. What we do know is that New Mexico State is up next for the Miners, what we don’t know is which offense will show up…
Maybe they should have taken this week off as well…Tulane opened their regular season a week later than most schools and apparently forgot that the NCAA requires that teams play two halves of football. Tulane entered the locker room tied at 17 with Mississippi State but was outscored 21-0 en route to a 38-17 loss. The running game was non-existent and it showed as the Bulldogs held the ball for nearly two-thirds of the game. If new head coach Bob Toledo cannot figure out something with the Green Wave running game, it is going to be an awfully long season in New Orleans.
Houston, Tulsa and UCF all had off this past weekend and there were quite a few teams in the conference who wish that they had off as well. With Texas traveling to UCF on Saturday, Conference USA gets a chance to knock off a BCS foe for the third week in a row. Also on the slate are BYU traveling to Tulsa and Southern Miss at East Carolina. It should be a great weekend and we’ll have more on those games and then some later this week.