Out west, Rice goes to preseason favorite Tulsa with a better early-season resume. The Owls started the season with a 52-31 loss at Texas A&M, but followed with a 23-14 win over Kansas and a 31-26 loss to crosstown rival Houston. Rice (2-2, 1-0) escaped last week in the "Battle of the Owls," forcing late turnovers in an 18-14 win over Florida Atlantic.
The last two losses for Tulsa (1-3, 0-0) are understandable (38-21 to Iowa State, 51-20 to Oklahoma), but the season-opening 34-7 loss at Bowling Green is not. The Golden Hurricane downed Colorado State on a last-play field goal, 30-27.
Senior Cody Green has not progressed as expected, and he was pulled in the third quarter of the Iowa State game last week in favor of Dane Evans. Green re-entered in the fourth quarter, only to throw an interception that set up the Cyclones for a short-field touchdown.
Other C-USA games today, in no particular order:
Florida International (0-4, 0-0) at Southern Mississippi (0-4, 0-4): The rules say one of these 0-4 teams must win, and the odds are the host Golden Eagles will end their 16-game losing streak. The Panthers had an extra week to recover from their 72-0 loss at Louisville, and for quarterback Jake Medlock to recover from a concussion. Alas, the FIU circus continued this week with two more suspensions.
FAU (1-4, 0-3) at Alabama-Birmingham (1-3, 0-0): The Owls will try to avoid an 0-4 league start as their underrated defense takes on UAB running back Darrin Reaves, who is averaging 103 yards per game. Owls quarterback Jaquez Johnson is expected to return from a shoulder injury that kept him out of the Rice game. A conspiracy theorist could say Johnson's healing was accelerated by the fourth-quarter meltdown by Greg Hankerson, who committed three turnovers and threw a pass away on the final fourth-down play.
North Texas (2-2, 0-0) at Tulane (3-2, 1-0): The Green Wave owns sub-LSU Louisiana and has designs on surprising West Division contention. Cornerback Jordan Baptiste was responsible for two turnovers in a 31-14 win over Louisiana-Monroe, and the Green Wave has those 16 takeaways.
Louisiana Tech (1-4, 0-1) at Texas-El Paso (1-3, 0-1): Who's up for an early October "must-win" game? Loser gets early trip to the West basement.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5140, dougsm...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.