So before I jump into recapping the first week, I wanted to share ESPN's updated FPI rankings (which also happens to list each team's odds of winning their conference. In the preseason, these were your likely champions and contenders from our respective conferences:
- Sun Belt - Louisiana 70.4%, South Alabama 28.7%, ULM 11.4%
- American - Houston 56.9%, UCF 38.2%, Cincinnati 28.6%
- Conference USA - Marshall 48.2%, UTSA 25.8%, Old Dominion 13.8%
No surprises there, and Marshall and Louisiana were there in large part due to having the weakest and seventh-weakest schedules, respectively.
Well, one weekend burned from the rope, and things have changed substantially. What do we have now?
- Sun Belt - Louisiana 68.9%, Texas State 32.3%, South Alabama 17.3%
- American - UCF 38.9%, Memphis 31.3%, Cincinnati 25.3%
- Conference USA - UTSA 40.3%, Marshall 31.3%, Middle Tennessee 10.4%
So this is clearly a fallible statistic. I find it rather laughable that Louisiana'Monroe's odds of winning the conference were halved after they won on the road, nor can I really believe that Memphis and Texas State obliterating awful teams (Austin Peay and Arkansas-Pine Bluff, respectively) means anything towards their hopes for this season, let alone enough to quadruple their chances of winning the conference.
However, There are some other useful nuggets there. UTSA definitely showed that they are not to be trifled with,, and that their youth is meaningless when it comes to their chances of beating anyone on their schedule. Also, UCF may have dropped a heartbreaker that destroyed their hopes at the College Football Playoff, but nothing that happened this weekend indicates that they aren't still the best in The American (though Houston may be less of a threat than we thought).
Also, it's early but UTSA and Temple are first and second in defensive efficiency, while Western Kentucky is second in offensive efficiency (Texas State is third, but again it was UAPB).
We will learn a lot this coming week. First and foremost, how legit is UTSA? Can they do to Arizona what they did to Houston, given that Arizona is starting a green quarterback in his first road game? And will they look as good in all-orange as they did in all-white?
East Carolina's offensive juggernaut was obviously going to steamroll North Carolina Central, but things just got a little more interesting for their game against South Carolina next week after the crooked number they allowed to Texas A&M. The Pirates are not the Aggies, but you would definitely rather face a defense capable of surrendering almost 700 yards given the choice.
Temple should be just fine against Navy after all, while Army will get their season under way against a Buffalo team that looks much more beatable after nearly blowing a 21-point lead at home against Duquesne. Old Dominion's odds of a win next week also seem much better than they did before, since they're a decidedly better team than Georgia Southern.
We still don't know what we have in Idaho or South Alabama heading into their first games, but we do know that the winner of the New Mexico State - Georgia State game will be 2-0, and that's an accomplishment no matter who you've played to get there. We will also see some Louisiana blood get boiling as the Bulldogs of Louisiana Tech will try to get their first win on the road against the Ragin' Cajuns. I'll go ahead now and say it probably won't happen.
We're in the thick of it now, folks. Get your grub on for Labor Day, and then let's hit the ground running for the rest of the season.