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October 30, 2013

Week Ten Preview

The American will be in the spotlight this week with nationally-televised ESPN games airing on both Wednesday (Cincinnati at Memphis) and Thursday (USF at Houston).

UCF's eyes of course will be on the Halloween night meeting between the Cougars and Bulls since the Knights' next game will be against Houston, a team that currently sits at 6-1 and an undefeated 3-0 in league play. Should Houston get past USF, the Nov. 9 matchup in Orlando could very well decide the conference championship.

Overall, it's a light week within the conference as four of the 10 teams are have open dates (UCF, UConn, Louisville and SMU).

Here's a look at every game involving the American, future league members East Carolina, Tulane, Tulsa and Navy, plus UCF's non-conference opponents (Akron, FIU, Penn State, South Carolina).

Yahoo! College Football Scoreboard

Lines are for entertainment purposes only, picks are head-to-head.

Cincinnati (5-2, 2-1 AAC) at Memphis (1-5, 0-3 AAC)
8 p.m., ESPN2
THE BUZZ: Former Conference USA rivals (1995-2004) meet again with Memphis' entry into the league this year. The Tigers hold an 18-12 all-time series advantage. The Bearcats played in the 2010 Liberty Bowl, beating Vanderbilt 31-24. After opening conference play with a shocking loss at USF, Cincinnati has rebounded to win the last two games vs. league bottom feeders Temple and UConn. UC ranks seventh nationally in total defense (286.9 yards) but they have played some horrid offenses as UConn, Purdue, USF and Miami-Ohio rank among the nation's worst. Memphis' comeback vs. SMU as they dropped a 34-29 decision on Oct. 19. They had trailed 34-3 in third quarter. DE Martin Ifedi still leads the nation in sacks (1.3 spg).
THE LINE: Cincinnati by 2.5
THE PICK: Memphis
USF (2-5, 2-1 AAC) at Houston (6-1, 3-0 AAC)
7 p.m., ESPN
THE BUZZ: Houston is just one point away from being undefeated with a 47-46 loss to BYU earlier this month, and like UCF control their own destiny to win the American. Still, the Cougars aren't getting any love from the national media with only a handful of votes in the Coaches Poll and none in the AP. UH RB Kenneth Farrow feels disrespected. "They talk about the AAC with Louisville and UCF and Rutgers, and we're not even getting mentioned," Farrow said. "We come out every week with a chip on our shoulder." On Sunday, Houston unveiled special black "Halloween" jerseys that will be worn this game and later auctioned off. Meanwhile, it's been more than a month since USF has scored an offensive touchdown as they went another game (now three) without seeing the endzone in an offensive series. 102 football players have scored more touchdowns this season than USF's offense, which has six touchdowns in seven games (credit goes to Brett McMurphy for that fun fact).
THE LINE: Houston by 17.5
THE PICK: Houston
Temple (1-7, 0-4 AAC) at Rutgers (4-3, 1-2 AAC)
12 noon, American Game of the Week / CW18 in Orlando
THE BUZZ: Long time "rivals" in the Big East (throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, the loser typically claimed the last place spot), the series resumed last year when Temple returned to the league. Now with Rutgers on their way to the Big Ten, the series will go on hiatus until 2020 when they two schools begin a four-year series. Rutgers won last year's game, 35-10. A week ago, the Scarlet Knights turned the ball over six times in an embarrassing 49-14 homecoming loss to Houston. That included three interceptions by QB Gary Nova, who had four in their previous game at Louisville. Temple had a 28-14 lead on SMU last week, but the Mustangs came storming back with 45 second half points to win, 59-49. Owls WR Robby Anderson caught nine passes for a whopping 239 yards and two touchdowns.
THE LINE: Rutgers by 13.5
THE PICK: Rutgers
Illinois (3-4, 0-3 B1G) at Penn State (4-3, 1-2 B1G)
12 noon, ESPN
THE BUZZ: In what was another non-competitive ABC primetime game last week, Penn State was absolutely crushed by Ohio State 63-14. It was the No. 4 Buckeye's most impressive showing to date. "It's the worst game I've experienced," said Nittany Lions outside linebacker Mike Hull. In fact, you have to go back to the 1800s for a more lopsided Penn State defeat: Their 64-5 loss to Duquesne Athletic Club on Nov. 25, 1899. Illinois has three in a row in Big Ten play.
THE LINE: Penn State by 10
THE PICK: Penn State
Mississippi State (4-3, 1-2 SEC) at No. 14 South Carolina (6-2, 4-2 SEC)
12:21 p.m., SEC Game of the Week
THE BUZZ: South Carolina pulled off a stunning comeback at No. 5 Missouri last week as hobbled quarterback Connor Shaw came off the bench to lead the Gamecocks to the 27-24 double overtime win. Trailing 17-0 going into the fourth quarter, South Carolina scored on their final five possessions, including a clutch fourth-down touchdown pass in the first overtime. Missouri still controls their own destiny in the SEC East, but need to win their final four games vs. Tennessee, Kentucky, Ole Miss and Texas A&M. South Carolina has just two SEC games left: This one vs. Mississippi State and Florida on Nov. 16. If South Carolina can win out, and Missouri loses one more, the Gamecocks will represent the East in Atlanta.
THE LINE: South Carolina by 13
THE PICK: South Carolina
Kent State (2-7, 1-4 MAC) at Akron (2-7, 1-4 MAC)
3:30 p.m., ESPN3
THE BUZZ: A week after getting their first FBS win vs. Miami-Ohio, Akron dropped a 42-24 setback to Ball State. While I'm getting a little off topic here, UCF's 2012 Beef 'O'Brady's opponent (8-1, 5-0 MAC) appears to be the biggest hurdle between Northern Illinois and an undefeated season as the two meet on Wednesday, Nov. 13. An undefeated Fresno State or NIU likely keeps the American champ out of the Fiesta Bowl. Back to the game at hand, Kent State's two wins have come against FCS Liberty (17-10) and one-win Western Michigan (32-14). A year ago, Kent State finished 11-3 and lost a double-overtime game to NIU in the MAC Championship (which in turn sent NIU to the Orange Bowl).
THE LINE: Akron by 1
UTSA (3-5, 2-2 C-USA) at Tulsa (2-5, 1-2 C-USA)
3:30 p.m., CSS
THE BUZZ: It's been a disappointing season for the 2012 Conference USA Champion as Tulsa lost last week to Tulane, 14-7. They must win four of their last five games to qualify for a bowl game, which becomes virtually impossible if they drop this one to UTSA seeing that East Carolina and Marshall come next on the schedule followed by La Tech and North Texas. On the flip side, UTSA needs to win three of their remaining four to reach a bowl (at Tulsa, Tulane, at North Texas, La Tech).
THE LINE: Tulsa by 3
Navy (4-3) at Notre Dame (6-2)
3:30 p.m., NBC
THE BUZZ: Navy's kicker found redemption. A week after missing an extra point in the second overtime which cost them the game vs. Toledo, Nick Sloan won the game on a final-second field goal against Pittsburgh as the Midshipmen came out on top, 24-21. "It's every kickers dream to be in this situation," Sloan said. "It's definitely what separates the good kickers from the bad kickers. I thought of it as just another kick. That's all I can do." The Navy-Notre Dame series has been played every year since 1927. Navy has won two of their last three trips to South Bend (winning in 2007 and 2009, losing in 2011). Notre Dame's only two losses have come against ranked teams (No. 23 Michigan, No. 25 Arizona State).
THE LINE: Notre Dame by 17
THE PICK: Notre Dame
Tulane (6-2, 4-0 C-USA) at Florida Atlantic (2-6, 1-4 C-USA)
5:00 p.m., No TV
THE BUZZ: The party in the Superdome quickly moved to Bourbon Street as revelers celebrated Tulane's 14-7 win against Tulsa, which gave the Green Wave the sixth win needed for bowl eligibility. It's a big accomplishment for second-year coach Curtis Johnson as Tulane hasn't appeared in a bowl game since 2002. The C-USA West Division could come down to the regular season finale between Tulane and Rice, both of whom have 4-0 league records (Rice is also bowl eligible at 6-2). FAU earned their paycheck with a 45-10 loss at Auburn last week.
THE PICK: Tulane
East Carolina (5-2, 3-1 C-USA) at Florida International (1-6, 1-2 C-USA)
6:00 p.m., No TV
THE BUZZ: FIU did a great job keeping Louisiana Tech out of the endzone (they only had one touchdown) but Skip Holtz's kicker nailed five field goals to give the Bulldogs the 23-7 win. The FIU offense was anemic with 197 total yards. On Oct. 19, ECU crushed Southern Miss, the most hopeless team in college football, 55-14. The Golden Eagles added another L last week and have now lost 19 straight. Conference USA's East Division may come down to the regular season finale between ECU and Marshall, the only teams with one league loss at this point.
THE LINE: East Carolina by 22.5
THE PICK: East Carolina

Bye week: UCF (6-1, 3-0 AAC), UConn (0-7, 0-3 AAC), Louisville (7-1, 3-1 AAC), SMU (3-4, 2-1 AAC),



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