Haikus always make life more interesting. This is why each week, Conference USA coverage will dissect the major story lines via the five-seven-five syllable format.
Despite the vast majority of games providing entertainment, there’s a good chance that if you aren’t a good football team in the conference, you were involved in a nail-biter on Saturday.
Western Kentucky 44 Middle Tennessee State 43
Firework display is delayed
Loss jumbles the top
Middle Tennessee State and Western Kentucky had needed extra time the previous two meetings, so naturally Murfreesboro was host to another overtime thriller on Saturday. Both offenses exchanged field goals in the first frame before the director of fireworks finally got all cozy and settled in.
Blue Raiders quarterback Brent Stockstill did Brent Stockstill things — 42-of-54 passing with 434 yards — while Mike White did Western Kentucky quarterback things (29-of-40 for 391). Swapping scores led to overtime, which put a damper on the home team’s hopes when the extra point on the go-ahead score was tipped. Hilltoppers running back Anthony “Ace” Wales knotted things up and a Skyler Simcox point after was all she wrote.
Middle Tennessee State was this (puts fingers very close together) close to solidifying itself as the conference’s best. The Hilltoppers (and don’t forget that team from Hattiesburg) are still in the thick of things in a bottom-heavy Conference USA.
Louisiana Tech 56 UMass 28
First it was Taylor
Now it’s Carlos Henderson
Offense is humming
Louisiana Tech wide receiver Trent Taylor was previewed prior to last Thursday evening’s (offensive) heavyweight battle with Western Kentucky, and for good reasons. The senior entered Week 7 as the No. 3 receiver thanks to back-to-back-to-back star-studded outings.
Junior swingmate Carlos Henderson has recently flashed a little “anything you can do, I can do better.”
A week after shining in the Bulldogs’ win over the Hilltoppers — a game in which Henderson caught eight balls for 232 yards and three scores — the deep-ball specialist hauled in 12 catches for 326 and five on Saturday.
The offense is leaving a trail of embers, for lack of a better phrase.
Marshall 27 Florida Atlantic 21
Congrats to the Herd
Marshall finally on track
Didn’t come easy
Marshall head coach Doc Holliday was perhaps mere minutes away from strangling a fan with his headset on Saturday. The Thundering Herd, fresh off a four-game skid, barely squeaked out a home win versus the lowly Florida Atlantic Owls. The offense needed a score in the last few minutes to avoid sheer mayhem in Huntington.
As for the Owls, it’s just another sad story in the Charlie Partridge fable.
Florida International 27 Charlotte 26
Cooper gets one more
Niners lose in Niners way
Here comes FIU
Ron Turner has to be boxed away in a shanty with a 12-inch TV in front of him, putzing around like a lunatic and rooting shamelessly for Florida International to crumble.
That’s not the case.
Once Turner received a firm boot from the program, interim head coach Ron Cooper lit a fire, and has now won three straight games.
Boy, did Charlotte cough this one up in the most Charlotte way of all time.
Florida International quarterback Alex McGough strung together a seven-play, 75-yard touchdown drive with four minutes and change remaining to cut a then-13-point deficit to six; he then drummed up a two-play, 45-yard drive in 34 ticks to remind Charlotte that it is so Charlotte.
UTSA 14 Rice 13
First half Sturm shines bright
Fast starts are overrated
Rice still blanked this year
UTSA got a big helping hand in the first half from quarterback Dalton Sturm. A week after setting Southern Mississippi ablaze in the first few minutes, the sophomore threw a pair of touchdown passes in the first half — and that seemingly was all he needed.
As bad as Rice has been, the offense at times has put points on the board early (Army, UTSA); the Owls just can’t put a complete game together.
For that, they’re 0-6.
LSU 45 Southern Mississippi 10
Big boys are too much
Not your normal SEC
“Southern Miss beat Kentucky,” they said. “The offense could give LSU fits,” they said.
The Bayou is a whole different atmosphere — no, planet — compared to playing the Fighting Caliparis on the gridiron. Southern Miss was bottled up all night. Quarterback Nick Mullens completed 25 passes but for a measly 161 yards.