Dallas Colleges: East Carolina Pirates

SMU to play in Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve

November, 26, 2012
With five bowl-eligible teams, Conference USA has announced its contingency plan heading into the league's championship game this Saturday. And, under both scenarios, the SMU Mustangs will be playing in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve.

Here are the scenarios.

If Tulsa wins the championship game, this will be C-USA's bowl lineup:

Tulsa: AutoZone Liberty Bowl, Dec. 31, Memphis, Tenn.
Rice: Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl, Dec. 29, Fort Worth
SMU: Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, Dec. 24, Honolulu, Hawaii
East Carolina: R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, Dec. 22, New Orleans
Central Florida: Beef `O' Brady's Bowl, Dec. 21, St. Petersburg, Fla.

If UCF wins the championship game, this will be C-USA's bowl lineup:

Central Florida: AutoZone Liberty Bowl, Dec. 31, Memphis, Tenn.
Tulsa: Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl, Dec. 29, Fort Worth
SMU: Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, Dec. 24, Honolulu, Hawaii
Rice: R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, Dec. 22, New Orleans
East Carolina: Beef `O' Brady's Bowl, Dec. 21, St. Petersburg, Fla.

Conference USA basketball preview

October, 24, 2012
Before we get to the Blue Ribbon team-by-team previews for Conference USA, here is Eamonn Brennan's quick wind sprint through the league:

Blue Ribbon breakdowns of all 12 teams in C-USA:

East Carolina

Southern Miss
UTEP Insider Free

More Conference USA content:

-- Andy Katz with five things he can't wait to see in Conference USA
-- John Gasaway answers five burning questions for the league Insider
-- Eamonn Brennan's Three Big Things on Memphis
-- Brennan on the improved shot of Memphis' Adonis Thomas and Myron Medcalf's five questions for Thomas
-- Brennan rates and analyzes the nonconference schedules of the C-USA
-- Katz on Marshall star DeAndre Kane and the unexpected tragedy he had to face in the offseason
-- Medcalf on how new Tulsa coach Danny Manning is counting on Bill Self's lessons
-- Paul Biancardi identifies the top freshmen and potential recruits in C-USA Insider
-- Katz and Greenberg's conversation with new SMU coach Larry Brown
-- ESPN.com's Summer Shootaround preview of C-USA
-- See where Memphis and Houston ranked in our "50 in 50" series, which attempted to identify the 50 most successful programs of the past half-century
-- For more coverage of Conference USA in the Nation blog, click here.

Last week, we had five games involving Big 12 South teams or local teams. Congrats to Aussierules1985 and dewe11, who went 4-1. The one loss was Miami's victory over Oklahoma, which none of us picked correctly.

Here are this week's games. Please make your pick in the comments section.

Oklahoma State at Texas A&M: This is a big opportunity for both teams to bounce back -- OSU from the loss of Dez Bryant, A&M from the loss to Arkansas. This shapes up to be the best game of the weekend in the Big 12. Look for Jerrod Johnson to play better for the Aggies, but it won't be quite enough as OSU squeaks out a big road win. Prediction: OSU 31, Texas A&M 28

Baylor at Oklahoma: The Sooners have still never lost to Baylor (18-0) and that isn't likely to change this weekend. OU coach Bob Stoops is expected to announce today whether Sam Bradford (sprained AC join in his right shoulder) will play at quarterback. Blake Szymanski should start at QB for the Bears. The Miami loss, in my opinion, means Oklahoma won't be looking ahead to Texas. I think the Sooners win this one with little trouble. Prediction: Oklahoma: 45, Baylor 20

Colorado at Texas: Texas players have said the right things all week about not letting their thoughts float off to the game in the Cotton Bowl next Saturday. The Longhorns are coming off a bye week, so they are probably ready to go out and hit somebody. Bad timing if you're Colorado. I would think that Texas will look to rest its starters and avoid injuries in the fourth quarter if it has a big lead, which could impact the score. Prediction: Texas 48, Colorado 20

Kansas State at Texas Tech: Something tells me the Wildcats will cover the 16-point spread (not sure why, I just think so), but they won't leave Lubbock with a victory. Texas Tech is the last Big 12 South team to get a bye this season and it doesn't come until Nov. 7 (though that's week before the Oklahoma State game). So they are in the middle of a stretch of nine straight games. Prediction: Texas Tech 38, Kansas State 24

East Carolina at SMU: East Carolina leads the East division of Conference USA despite an offense that has struggled this season. SMU has played better than the record indicates (see what should have been a win at Washington State a few weeks ago). I'm going with an upset here and taking the Mustangs at home. June Jones has been waiting on a big victory. Why not this one? Prediction: SMU 21, East Carolina 20

UNT at Louisiana-Lafayette: North Texas is coming off a bye, which should help in this Sun Belt Conference matchup. The Mean Green must limit turnovers and get much better inside the red zone. They won't have quite enough against Louisiana-Lafayette Saturday night. Prediction: Louisiana-Lafayette 23, North Texas 17

TCU at Air Force: Air Force's triple-option is not fun to prepare for, but Gary Patterson will have his team ready. Air Force's defense is underrated and could give TCU some problems. The Frogs better be ready. And I think they will be. Look for Andy Dalton to do just enough to win. Prediction: TCU 24, Air Force 13

East Carolina head coach Skip Holtz clearly has respect for the SMU offense. The Pirates (3-2, 2-0) and Mustangs (2-2, 1-0) play in Dallas at 7 p.m. Saturday.

"They're throwing it all over the yard and putting up huge numbers," said Holtz during a Monday conference call, noting that SMU is second in Conference USA in passing offense. "We're going to have to try and get as much speed on the field against our defense as possible. We'll probably do a lot of our passing game against each other, where the defense can see live balls. The ball is going to be up in the air an awful lot this week."

Holtz mentioned quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, running back Shawnbrey McNeal and wide receivers Terrance Wilkerson and Emmanuel Sanders as catalysts in the offense. Sanders in particular has Holtz's attention.

"He's explosive, leads the country in receptions per game and is second in C-USA in yards per game," Holtz said. "He is a real play maker. I've been really impressed with him. He's going to be a handful for our defense this week. It's going to be very hard to simulate him with what they do."

Holtz said the team is working on which nickel and dime packages it wants to run on defense in preparation for the Mustangs.

The Big 12 South teams and TCU, SMU and UNT are in action this week. Here's a look at the schedule. Which game do you most want to see? (And if you're going to a game, let us know that too):

Oklahoma State at Texas A&M (Saturday, 11:30 a.m., FSN): We'll see how the Aggies bounce back from the loss to Arkansas and maybe we'll start finding out exactly what kind of team OSU has after some inconsistent play.

Baylor at Oklahoma (Saturday, 2:30 p.m., ABC): Will QB Sam Bradford return for the Sooners? Who will be the QB for Baylor?

Kansas State at Texas Tech (Saturday, 6 p.m., FSN): The Red Raiders, after a 20-point win over New Mexico, want to make sure Bill Snyder's Wildcats don't make a statement on the road.

Colorado at Texas (Saturday, 6:15 p.m., ESPN or ESPN2): The No. 2 team in the country, fresh off a bye week, looks to get a big win in before facing Oklahoma the following week.

TCU at Air Force (Saturday, 6:30 p.m., CBSCS): The Horned Frogs, No. 9 in the coaches' poll, look to keep the pressure on Boise State with a win. Air Force is coming off a tough loss to Navy.

East Carolina at SMU (Saturday, 7 p.m.): SMU takes on the top team in Conference USA's East Division.

UNT at Louisiana-Lafayette (Saturday, 6 p.m.): This will be the Mean Green's second Sun Belt conference game and the first for Louisiana-Lafayette.