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This week in Conference USA football
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This week in Conference USA football

This week in Conference USA football
Photo Credit: C-USA
Case Keenum

This week in Conference USA football

Eight nationally-televised games highlight the opening weekend of the 2011 Conference USA Football season, the league's 16th football campaign. Eleven of the 12 teams will be in action spread over four days, with games against opponents from the Big East, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC, among others.

The 2011 season will kick off on Thursday, September 1 when Mississippi State visits Memphis (7 p.m. CDT). The game also will mark the debut of C-USA's new television package on FOX Sports and Ron Thulin, J.C. Pearson and Jeremy Bloom will be announcing. Standouts Frank Trotter (16.5 tackles for loss) and Dontari Poe (41 tackles) lead a strong Memphis defensive line.

Case Keenum is scheduled to return to the field on Saturday (2:30 p.m.) when Houston welcomes the UCLA Bruins to Robertson Stadium. Positioned to break all-time NCAA records for total offense, passing yards, touchdowns, pass attempts and completions, Keenum leads an explosive Cougar offense in a game that will air on FSN, with Craig Bolerjack, Joel Klatt and Petros Papadaikas on hand to announce.

Charlotte will be the site of an exciting neutral field meeting between East Carolina and South Carolina on Saturday. Senior QB Dominique Davis, the 2010 C-USA Newcomer of the Year, leads an explosive Pirate offense against a Gamecocks squad that has been ranked in some preseason top 10 polls. Bob Rathbun, Tim Couch and Kristen Acra will call the action for FSN from Bank of America Stadium, beginning at 6 p.m. CDT.

Tulsa will take on the nation's top-ranked team in the season-opening game on FX when the Golden Hurricane visit Oklahoma (6 p.m. CT). The game will mark the debut of new TU head coach Bill Blankenship as well as the return of G.J. Kinne, last year's C-USA Offensive Player of the Year. Gus Johnson, Charles Davis and Tim Brewster will be on the call from Norman.

Late night with Southern Miss football will be on display in Hattiesburg when the Golden Eagles welcome Louisiana Tech to town for a 9 pm CDT kick on FSN. Thulin, Pearson and Bloom also will be on the call for this one to watch preseason all-conference LB Korey Williams and a new-look 4-2-5 defense under new USM defensive coordinator Dan Disch.

Rounding out Saturday's action will be defending C-USA Champion UCF hosting Charleston Southern (6 p.m. CDT on Bright House Networks in Florida), Rice visiting Texas (6 p.m. CDT on The Longhorn Network), UTEP welcoming Stony Brook (8:05 p.m. CDT on Time Warner El Paso) and Tulane hosting Southeastern Louisiana (2:30 p.m. CDT).

Two games will be nationally-televised on Sunday, with Marshall renewing its rivalry with West Virginia (2:30 p.m. CDT on ESPN) and SMU visiting Texas A&M (6:30 p.m. on FSN). Joe Tessitore, Rod Gilmore and Quint Kessinich will be announcing the Herd-Mountaineers matchup, where preseason C-USA Defensive Player of the Year Vinny Curry (fifth in nation with 12 sacks in 2010) leads Marshall. Joel Meyers, Joel Klatt and Jim Knox will announce the Mustangs-Aggies contest as RB Zach Line, the league's leading rusher in 2010 with 1,454 yards, helps lead SMU.

Four C-USA schools received votes in the preseason polls, as UCF, Houston, Southern Miss and Tulsa were each recognized.

A GLANCE AT THIS WEEK’S MATCHUPS

(20) MISSISSIPPI STATE at MEMPHIS

Thursday, September 1 Memphis, Tennessee

7 p.m. (CDT) Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium (61,000)

All-Time Series: Mississippi State leads 33-10

Last Meeting: Mississippi State 49, Memphis 7 (Sept. 1, 2010)

Television: FSN

Announcers: Ron Thulin (PxP), J.C. Pearson (Analyst), Jeremy Bloom (Sideline)

Mississippi State (9-4, 4-4 in SEC in 2010)

Website: www.mstateathletics.com

Head Coach: Dan Mullen (Ursinus ’94)

Career Record: 14-11 (3rd year)

Record at MSU: 14-11 (3rd year)

Offense: Spread

Defense: 4-3

Leading Returning Passer: Chris Relf (129-of-220, 1,789 yds., 13 TD)

Leading Returning Rusher: Vick Ballard (186 att., 968 yds., 19 TD)

Leading Returning Receiver: Chad Bumphis (44 rec., 634 yds., 5 TD)

2010 Bowl Game: Mississippi State 52, Michigan 14 (Gator)

Next Game: Sept. 10, at Auburn

Memphis (1-11, 0-8 in C-USA in 2010)

Website: www.gotigersgo.com

Head Coach: Larry Porter (Memphis ’96)

Career Record: 1-11 (2nd year)

Record at Memphis: 1-11 (2nd year)

Offense: Multiple

Defense: Multiple

Leading Returning Passer: Cannon Smith (22-of-43, 246 yds., 1 TD – now a DB)

Leading Returning Rusher: Jerrell Rhodes (116 att., 469 yds., 1 TD)

Leading Returning Receiver: Marcus Rucker (41 rec., 704 yds., 8 TD)

2010 Bowl Game: None

Next Game: Sept. 10, at Arkansas State

...........................................................................................................................................

UCLA at HOUSTON

Saturday, September 3 Houston, Texas

2:30 p.m. (CDT) O’Quinn Field at Robertson Stadium (32,000)

All-Time Series: UCLA leads 3-2

Last Meeting: UCLA 31, Houston 13 (Sept. 18, 2011)

Television: FSN

Announcers: Craig Bolerjack (PxP), Joel Klatt (Analyst), Petros Papadaikas (Sideline)

UCLA (4-8, 2-7 in Pac-10 in 2010)

Website: www.uclabruins.com

Head Coach: Rick Nueheisel (UCLA ’84)

Career Record: 81-52 (12th year)

Record at UCLA: 15-22 (4th year)

Offense: Multiple

Defense: 4-3

Leading Returning Passer: Richard Brehaut (119-of-212, 1,296 yds., 12 TD)

Leading Returning Rusher: Johnathan Franklin (214 att., 1,127 yds., 8 TD)

Leading Returning Receiver: Taylor Embree (32 rec., 409 yds., 0 TD)

2010 Bowl Game: None

Next Game: Sept. 10, San Jose State

Houston (5-7, 4-4 in C-USA in 2010)

Website: www.uhcougars.com

Head Coach: Kevin Sumlin (Purdue, ’86)

Career Record: 23-16 (4th year)

Record at UH: 23-16 (4th year)

Offense: Multiple

Defense: 3-4

Leading Returning Passer: David Piland (201-of-435, 2,641 yds., 24 TD)

Leading Returning Rusher: Bryce Beall (163 att., 870 yds., 12 TD)

Leading Returning Receiver: Patrick Edwards (71 rec., 1,100 yds., 13 TD)

2010 Bowl Game: None

Next Game: Sept. 10, at North Texas (ESPN3.com)

SOUTHEASTERN LOUISIANA at TULANE

Saturday, September 3 New Orleans, Louisiana

2:30 p.m. (CDT) Louisiana Superdome (69,703)

All-Time Series: Tulane leads 5-0

Last Meeting: Tulane 27, Southeastern Louisiana 21 (Sept. 2, 2010)

Southeastern Louisiana (2-9, 1-6 in Southland in 2010)

Website: lionsports.net

Head Coach: Mike Lucas (Liberty ‘82)

Career Record: 16-32 (5th year)

Record at SLU: 16-32 (5th year)

Offense: Multiple

Defense: 4-3

Leading Returning Passer: Brian Young (86-165, 1,012 yds., 4 TD)

Leading Returning Rusher: Sam Fairley (145 att., 579 yds., 1 TD)

Leading Returning Receiver: Simmie Yarborough (60 rec., 709 yds., 9 TD)

2009 FCS Playoffs: None

Next Game: Sept. 10, Savannah State

Tulane (4-8, 2-6 in C-USA in 2010)

Website: www.tulanegreenwave.com

Head Coach: Bob Toledo (San Francisco State ’68)

Career Record: 91-103 (18th year)

Record at Tulane: 13-35 (5th year)

Offense: Multiple

Defense: Multiple

Leading Returning Passer: Ryan Griffin (223-of-372, 2,371 yds., 8 TD)

Leading Returning Rusher: Orleans Darkwa (184 att., 925 yds., 11 TD)

Leading Returning Receiver: Ryan Grant (33 rec., 515 yds., 4 TD)

2010 Bowl Game: None

Next Game: Sept. 10, Tulsa (Cox Sports)

...........................................................................................................................

CHARLESTON SOUTHERN at UCF

Saturday, September 3 Orlando, Florida

7 p.m. (EDT) Bright House Networks Stadium (45,323)

All-Time Series: First Meeting

Television: Bright House Networks

Announcers: David Baumann (PxP), Mark Royals (Analyst), Jeff Radcliffe (Sideline)

Charleston Southern (3-8, 1-5 in Big South in 2010)

Website: www.csusports.com

Head Coach: Jay Mills (Western Washington, ’84)

Career Record: 43-46 (9th year)

Record at CSU: 43-46 (9th year)

Offense: Multiple

Defense: 3-3-5

Leading Returning Passer: Malcolm Dixon (21-of-27, 236 yds., 4 TD)

Leading Returning Rusher: B.J. Hackworth (10 att., 182 yds., 0 TD)

Leading Returning Receiver: Kirby Broome (7 rec., 92 yds., 1 TD)

2010 FCS Playoffs: None

Next Game: Sept. 10, at Florida State

UCF (11-3, 7-1 in C-USA in 2010)

Website: www.ucfathletics.com

Head Coach: George O’Leary (New Hampshire ’69)

Career Record: 97-77 (15th year)

Record at UCF: 45-44-0 (8th year)

Offense: Multiple

Defense: Multiple, 4-3

Leading Returning Passer: Jeff Godfrey (159-of-238, 2,159 yds., 13 TD)

Leading Returning Rusher: Ronnie Weaver (186 att., 890 yds., 11 TD)

Leading Returning Receiver: A.J. Guyton (28 rec., 353 yds., 3 TD)

2010 Bowl Game: UCF 10, Georgia 6 (AutoZone Liberty)

Next Game: Sept. 10, Boston College (CBS Sports Network)

RICE at (24) TEXAS

Saturday, September 3 Austin, Texas

7 p.m. (CDT) Memorial Stadium (88,000)

All-Time Series: Texas leads 70-21-1

Last Meeting: (4) Texas 34, Rice 17 (Sept. 4, 2010)

Television: Longhorn Network

Announcers:Mark Jones (PxP), Ed Cunningham (Analyst), Samantha Steele (Sideline)

Rice (4-8, 3-5 in C-USA in 2010)

Website: www.riceowls.com

Head Coach: David Bailiff (Texas State, ’81)

Career Record: 40-45 (8th year)

Record at Rice: 19-30 (5th year)

Offense: Spread

Defense: 4-2-5

Leading Returning Passer: Nick Fanuzzi (151-of-241, 1,681 yds., 11 TD)

Leading Returning Rusher: Sam McGuffie (197 att., 883 yds., 6 TD)

Leading Returning Receiver: Sam McGuffie (39 rec., 384 yds., 3 TD)

2010 Bowl Game: None

Next Game: Sept. 10, Purdue (CBS Sports Network)

Texas (5-7, 2-6 in Big 12 in 2010)

Website: www.texassports.com

Head Coach: Mack Brown (Florida State, ’74)

Career Record: 223-108-1 (28th year)

Record at Texas: 137-34 (14th year)

Offense: Multiple

Defense: 4-3

Leading Returning Passer: Garrett Gilbert (260-of-441, 2,744 yds., 10 TD)

Leading Returning Rusher: Cody Johnson (134 att., 592 yds., 6 TD)

Leading Returning Receiver: James Kirkendoll (52 rec., 707 yds., 2 TD)

2010 Bowl Game: None

Next Game: Sept. 10, BYU

...........................................................................................................................................

(12) SO. CAROLINA vs. EAST CAROLINA

Saturday, September 3 Charlotte, North Carolina

7 p.m. (EDT) Bank of America Stadium (73,778)

All-Time Series: South Carolina leads 10-5

Last Meeting: East Carolina 21, South Carolina 3 (Sept. 18, 1999)

Television: FSN

Announcers: Bob Rathbun (PxP), Tim Couch (Analyst), Kristen Acra (Sideline)

South Carolina (9-5, 5-3 in SEC in 2010)

Website: www.gamecocksonline.com

Head Coach: Steve Spurrier (Florida ’71)

Career Record: 186-73-2 (22nd year)

Record at USC: 44-33-0 (7th year)

Offense: Multiple

Defense: 4-2-5

Leading Returning Passer: Stephen Garcia (224-of-349, 3,059 yds., 20 TD)

Leading Returning Rusher: Marcus Lattimore (249 att., 1,197 yds., 17 TD)

Leading Returning Receiver: Alshon Jeffery (88 rec., 1,517 yds., 9 TD)

2010 Bowl Game: Florida State 26, South Carolina 17 (Chick-fil-A)

Next Game: Sept. 10, at Georgia

East Carolina (6-7, 5-3 in C-USA in 2010)

Website: www.ecupirates.com

Head Coach: Ruffin McNeill (East Carolina, ’80)

Career Record: 7-7 (2nd year)

Record at ECU: 6-7 (2nd year)

Offense: Spread

Defense: 3-4

Leading Returning Passer: Dominique Davis (393-609, 3,967 yds., 37 TD)

Leading Returning Rusher: Dominique Davis (79 att., 141 yds., 9 TD)

Leading Returning Receiver: Lance Lewis (89 rec., 1,116 yds., 14 TD)

2010 Bowl Game: Maryland 51, East Carolina 20 (Military Bowl)

Next Game: Sept. 10, (13) Virginia Tech (FSN)

TULSA at (1) OKLAHOMA

Saturday, September 3 Norman, Oklahoma

7 p.m. (CDT) Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium (82,112)

All-Time Series: Oklahoma leads 16-7-1

Last Meeting: Oklahoma 45, Tulsa 0 (Sept. 19, 2009)

Television: FX

Announcers: Gus Johnson (PxP), Charles Davis (Analyst)

Tulsa (10-3, 6-2 in C-USA in 2010)

Website: www.tulsahurricane.com

Head Coach: Bill Blankenship (Tulsa, ’79)

Career Record: 0-0 (1st year)

Record at Tulsa: 0-0 (1st year)

Offense: Spread No Huddle

Defense: 4-3

Leading Returning Passer: G.J. Kinne (275-460, 3,650 yds., 31 TD)

Leading Returning Rusher: G.J. Kinne (158 att., 561 yds., 7 TD)

Leading Returning Receiver: Damaris Johnson (57 rec., 872 yds., 4 TD)

2010 Bowl Game: Tulsa 62, (25) Hawai’i 35 (Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl)

Next Game: Sept. 10, at Tulane

Oklahoma (12-2, 6-2 in Big 12 in 2010)

Website: www.soonersports.com

Head Coach: Bob Stoops (Iowa, ’83)

Career Record: 129-31 (13th year)

Record at OU: 129-31 (13th year)

Offense: Spread No Huddle

Defense: 3-3-5

Leading Returning Passer: Landry Jones (405-617, 4,718 yds., 38 TD)

Leading Returning Rusher: Roy Finch (85 att., 398 yds., 2 TD)

Leading Returning Receiver: Ryan Broyles (131 rec., 1,622 yds., 14 TD)

2010 Bowl Game: Oklahoma 48, Connecticut 20 (Tostitos Fiesta)

Next Game: Sept. 17, at Florida State

...........................................................................................................................

STONY BROOK at UTEP

Saturday, September 3 El Paso, Texas

7:05 p.m. (MDT) Sun Bowl (51,500)

All-Time Series: First Meeting

Television: Time Warner El Paso

Announcers: TBA (PxP), TBA (Analyst)

Stony Brook (7-4, 5-2 in Big South in 2010)

Website: www.goseawolves.org

Head Coach: Chuck Priore (Albany ’82)

Career Record: 73-41 (12th year)

Record at SBU: 33-28 (6th year)

Offense: Multiple

Defense: Multiple

Leading Returning Passer: Michael Coulter (133-of-220, 1,811 yds., 17 TD)

Leading Returning Rusher: Miguel Maysonnet (176 att., 1,128 yds., 12 TD)

Leading Returning Receiver: Matt Brevi (39 rec., 668 yds., 5 TD)

2010 FCS Playoffs: None

Next Game: Sept. 10, at Buffalo

UTEP (6-7, 3-5 in C-USA in 2010)

Website: www.utepathletics.com

Head Coach: Mike Price (Puget Sound ’69)

Career Record: 169-167 (30th year)

Record at UTEP: 40-45 (8th year)

Offense: I-Back

Defense: 4-3

Leading Returning Passer: Carson Meger (1-of-3, 10 yds., 0 TD)

Leading Returning Rusher: Joe Banyard (109 att., 623 yds., 8 TD)

Leading Returning Receiver: Joe Banyard (17 rec., 107 yds., 0 TD)

2010 Bowl Game: BYU 52, UTEP 24 (New Mexico Bowl)

Next Game: Sept. 10, at SMU (FSN)

LOUISIANA TECH at SOUTHERN MISS

Saturday, September 3 Hattiesburg, Mississippi

9 p.m. (CDT) Carlisle-Faulkner Field at M.M. Roberts Stadium (36,500)

All-Time Series: Southern Miss leads 30-13

Last Meeting: Southern Miss 13, Louisiana Tech 12 (Sept. 25, 2010)

Television: FSN

Announcers: Ron Thulin (PxP), J.C. Pearson (Analyst), Jeremy Bloom (Sideline)

Louisiana Tech (5-7, 4-4 in WAC in 2010)

Website: www.latechsports.com

Head Coach: Sonny Dykes (Texas Tech ’93)

Career Record: 5-7 (2nd year)

Record at LTU: 5-7 (2nd year)

Offense: Multiple

Defense: Multiple

Leading Returning Passer: Colby Cameron (54-of-91, 461 yds., 1 TD)

Leading Returning Rusher: Lennon Creer (212 att., 1,181 yds., 10 TD)

Leading Returning Receiver: Taulib Ikharo (50 rec., 530 yds., 4 TD)

2010 Bowl: None

Next Game: Sept. 10, Central Arkansas

Southern Miss (8-5, 5-3 in C-USA in 2010)

Website: www.southernmiss.com

Head Coach: Larry Fedora (Austin College ’85)

Career Record: 22-17 (4th year)

Record at USM: 22-17 (4th year)

Offense: Spread

Defense: 4-3

Leading Returning Passer: Austin Davis (278-of-442, 3,103 yds., 20 TD)

Leading Returning Rusher: Kendrick Hardy (139 att., 903 yds., 7 TD)

Leading Returning Receiver: Kelvin Bolden (46 rec., 722 yds., 6 TD)

2010 Bowl Game: Louisville 31, Southern Miss 28 (Beef ‘O’ Brady’s)

Next Game: Sept. 10, at Marshall (CSS)

...........................................................................................................................................

MARSHALL at (24) WEST VIRGINIA

Sunday, September 4 Morgantown, West Virginia

3:30 p.m. (EDT) Mountaineer Field at Milan Pusker Stadium (60,000)

All-Time Series: West Virginia leads 10-0

Last Meeting: West Virginia 24, Marshall 21 (ot) (Sept. 10, 2010)

Television: ESPN

Announcers: Joe Tessitore (PxP), Rod Gilmore (Analyst), Quint Kessinich (Sideline)

Marshall (5-7, 4-4 in C-USA in 2010)

Website: www.herdzone.com

Head Coach: Doc Holliday (West Virginia, ’79)

Career Record: 5-7 (2nd year)

Record at MU: 5-7 (2nd year)

Offense: Multiple

Defense: 3-4

Leading Returning Passer: Eddie Sullivan (6-24, 134 yds., 1 TD)

Leading Returning Rusher: Martin Ward (96 att., 345 yds., 1 TD)

Leading Returning Receiver: Aaron Dobson (44 rec., 689 yds., 5 TD)

2010 Bowl Game: None

Next Game: Sept. 10, Southern Miss (CSS)

West Virginia (9-4, 5-2 in Big East in 2010)

Website: www.msnsports.net

Head Coach: Dana Holgerson (Iowa Wesleyan, ‘83)

Career Record: 0-0 (1st year)

Record at WVU: 0-0 (1st year)

Offense: Spread

Defense: 3-3-5 Stack

Leading Returning Passer: Geno Smith (241-372, 2,763 yds., 24 TD)

Leading Returning Rusher: Ryan Clarke (80 att., 291 yds., 8 TD)

Leading Returning Receiver: Tavon Austin (58 rec., 787 yds., 8 TD)

2010 Bowl Game: NC State 23, West Virginia 7 (Champs Sports)

Next Game: Sept. 10, Norfolk State

SMU at (8) TEXAS A&M

Sunday, September 4 College Station, Texas

6:30 p.m. (CDT) Kyle Field (83,002)

All-Time Series: Texas A&M leads 41-29-1

Last Meeting: Texas A&M 66, SMU 8 (Sept. 17, 2005)

Television: FSN

Announcers: Joel Meyers (PxP), Joel Klatt (Analyst), Jim Knox (Sideline)

SMU (7-7, 6-2 in C-USA in 2010)

Website: www.smumustangs.com

Head Coach: June Jones (N.Y. State Regents College)

Career Record: 91-64 (13th year)

Record at SMU: 16-23 (4th year)

Offense: Run and Shoot

Defense: 3-4

Leading Returning Passer: Kyle Padron (302-of-508, 3,828 yds., 31 TD)

Leading Returning Rusher: Zach Line (244 att., 1,494 yds., 10 TD)

Leading Returning Receiver: Cole Beasley (87 rec., 1,060 yds., 6 TD)

2010 Bowl Game: Army 16, SMU 14 (Armed Forces)

Next Game: Sept. 10, UTEP (FSN)

Texas A&M (9-4, 6-2 in Big 12 in 2010)

Website: www.aggieathletics.com

Head Coach: Mike Sherman (Central Connecticut St. ’77)

Career Record: 19-19 (4th year)

Record at A&M: 19-19 (4th year)

Offense: Multiple Pro Sets

Defense: Multiple

Leading Returning Passer: Ryan Tannehill (152-of-234, 1,638 yds., 13 TD)

Leading Returning Rusher: Cyrus Gray (200 att., 1,133 yds., 12 TD)

Leading Returning Receiver: Jeff Fuller (72 att., 1,266 yds., 12 TD)

2010 Bowl Game: LSU 41, Texas A&M 24 (AT&T Cotton)

Next Game: Sept. 17, Idaho

...........................................................................................................................................


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