We won’t be seeing any Conference USA teams in action on Saturday.
While Western Kentucky had a bye week, the rest of the league took the field for some midweek shenanigans. The atmosphere might not be the greatest for the midweek slate, but the exposure is great for the league.
Not going to lie though, Tuesday night at Floyd Stadium looked like it was a good time:
Probably not as rowdy as Kidd Brewer Stadium was for the App State vs. Coastal Carolina on Tuesday night, however.
Like all Group of Five conferences this season, CUSA has been somewhat unpredictable, and we saw more of that this week. Here are some takeaways from the league’s Tuesday and Wednesday matchups.
What we learned
If you had told me before the season that college football betting odds would have Liberty as only a touchdown favorite over Jacksonville State, I don’t know if I would’ve believed you.
Even though the Gamecocks lost by 19 points, I think that game helped prove what we’ve seen so far this season — they’re going to be a tough team to beat. They only trailed by 11 in the fourth quarter but were unable to get off the field on defense, giving up two third-down conversions and a fourth-down conversion, which allowed Liberty to put the game away.
That drive took 9:39 off the clock.
We also learned that both Liberty and QB Kaidon Salter are as good as advertised. The Flames are now tied with WKU at +110 to win the conference.
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In the other Tuesday night game, MTSU finally picked up a win and dropped a three-game skid. It’s been a disappointing season for the Blue Raiders, but they showed some promise and maybe will be a little more competitive down the stretch. They opened at 5/1 to win the league behind WKU and Liberty and are now +2200.
Who might have stepped forward as the third-best team in the league now is New Mexico State. The Aggies have knocked off FIU and Sam Houston in the past two weeks and are exceeding expectations. QB Diego Pavia is in the mix for Newcomer of the Year and leads the league with 292.2 total yards per game. The Aggies looked solid in the first half on Wednesday.
A few weeks ago, it seemed like FIU might be better than we thought, but now the Panthers are on a three-game losing streak and may not win another game this season. After this week’s loss, I think they are the worst team in the league even though Sam Houston has yet to win a game.
The Bearkats continue to battle and are better than their 0-6 record. Even trailing 27-0 in the first half against NMSU, they showed a lot of fight like they have all season.
UTEP’s struggles have been a surprise but one thing we saw this week is Cade McConnell and Kelly Akharaiyi give the Miners a much-needed spark. McConnell had his first start of the season because of injuries to the rest of the QB room, and Akharaiyi has helped fill lost production from injured Tyrin Smith. McConnell will likely remain a backup, but perhaps this is a new duo to keep an eye on.
For LA Tech, it’s been tough for them to win close games, as Tuesday’s loss was their third one-possession loss this season.
This week was the first of three consecutive weeks that there will be two CUSA games on Tuesday and two on Wednesday. It’ll be interesting to see if there is more of a spotlight around these teams and some of the top players a month from now — and if so, how much?
Three of the four games next week should be great contests and Sam Houston could get its first win of the season against FIU. UTEP will give NMSU some trouble and don’t be surprised if Jax State gives WKU a run for its money.
CUSA in the midweek spotlight might not be up to MACtion standards, but it gives the college football junkies something to look forward to.