Keeping up with C-USA: Rice upsets Blazers, UTSA bowls over Bulldogs to stay perfect

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Rice Athletics/David Robert Brandsma

Rice’s August Pitre III runs a 35-yard reception from Wiley Green in the first quarter of the Owls’ win over UAB on Saturday, Oct. 23.

Wyatt Sparkman, Football reporter

Conference USA continues to disintegrate as Old Dominion and Southern Miss have announced their plans to leave for the Sun Belt Conference. Despite this, the football machine rumbles on:

Non-Conference

Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders vs University of Connecticut Huskies

The Blue Raiders (3-4, 1-2 C-USA), still yet to announce their future conference home, duked it out with the independent UCONN Huskies (1-8) on the road on Friday night, coming away with an easy 44-13 victory.

MTSU quarterback Chase Cunningham found the end zone four times, three of his scores coming in the first half. He went 25-of-36 for 297 yards and zero interceptions. Cunningham spread the ball to ten different receivers en route to the victory.

The Blue Raider defense surrendered 13 points in the first half but locked the Huskies’ offense down after the break, shutting out UCONN until the final whistle. MTSU is due to face the Southern Miss Golden Eagles, now due to join the Sun Belt in the coming years, for its homecoming game on Oct. 30.

North Texas Mean Green vs Liberty Flames

The Mean Green (1-6, 0-3 C-USA) hosted the independent Flames (6-2) on Saturday, falling 35-26. It was the program’s sixth consecutive loss.

Mean Green quarterback Austin Aune completed 22-of-35 passes for 212 yards and a score, but was undone by a pair of interceptions. 

Liberty scored the go-ahead touchdown thanks to a 72-yard punt return by Demario Douglas. The Flames scored 21 unanswered points to come from behind and seal the win in front of the Mean Green’s home crowd.

North Texas will look to snap its six-game skid with a trip to Houston to face the Rice Owls on Oct. 30.

Interconference

Florida Atlantic Owls vs Charlotte 49ers

The Owls (4-3, 2-1 C-USA) took control of first place in the C-USA East with a dominant 38-9 win over the 49ers (4-3, 2-1 C-USA) Thursday night. As a team, FAU rushed for 202 yards on 5.1 yards per carry and two scores. 

FAU graduate quarterback N’Kosi Perry went 9-for-11 for 225 yards through the air with three touchdowns. Charlotte’s redshirt senior signal-caller Chris Reynolds completed 71% of his passes for 219 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. 

FAU will welcome the UTEP Miners to town for its homecoming game on Oct. 30 and Charlotte will head to Bowling Green to face the Hilltoppers on Saturday.

Rice Owls vs Alabama-Birmingham Blazers

Rice (3-4, 2-1 C-USA) pulled off a huge 30-24 upset at UAB’s (5-3, 3-1 C-USA) homecoming on Saturday afternoon. The Blazers’ redshirt junior quarterback Dylan Hopkins completed a 40-yard game-winning touchdown pass to junior Trea Shropshire with 11 seconds remaining on the clock, but it was called back after a holding penalty, costing UAB the game.

Hopkins tossed for 318 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Rice redshirt sophomore quarterback Wiley Green completed 77% of his passes for 205 yards and three scores en route to the major upset. 

Rice welcomes the North Texas Mean Green on Saturday and UAB will enjoy a bye before hosting Louisiana Tech on Nov. 6.

No. 23 Texas San Antonio Roadrunners vs Louisiana Tech Bulldogs 

UTSA (8-0, 4-0 C-USA) continued its undefeated season with a 45-15 victory at LA Tech (2-5, 1-2 C-USA) Saturday night. Roadrunner junior running back Sincere McCormick rushed for 113 yards for 4.9 yards per carry and three scores. 

Bulldog wideout Smoke Harris caught seven passes for 108 yards and a score. 

LA Tech will travel to Norfolk, Virginia to face the Old Dominion Monarchs on Saturday. UTSA will take a week off before facing the UTEP Miners in the Sun Bowl on Nov. 6.

Football reporter Wyatt Sparkman can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @wyattsparkman3. Sports Editor Jake Moore contributed to this article.