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Three Things We Learned From Week 12 Conference USA Football

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Next week C-USA fans will be in store for some great football

Its here! Its finally here!
Its here! Its finally here!
Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

1. Western Kentucky has looked the part, now time to finish

After months of anticipation due to Conference USA backloading its conference schedule, the game we have been waiting for all season will take place next week to decide who wins C-USA East.

Marshall. Western Kentucky.

All eyes will be on C-USA's game of the year and they should be. Last year Western Kentucky went into Edwards Stadium and pulled off one of the biggest shockers of the season with a thrilling 67-66 overtime road upset over 24th ranked Marshall.

The win ruined Marshall's perfect season. Marshall still went on to win the conference title after defeating Louisiana Tech the following week - something I'm sure Marshall fans are quick to point out - but the Hilltoppers message was clear: The C-USA Championship will go through them next season not Marshall.

Western Kentucky has done every bit to make that proclamation come true as their average margin of victory in conference play is 28 points.

Although the matchup won't be as tantalizing as it could have been thanks to Marshall losing to Middle Tennessee State a few weeks ago, the game still deserves top-billing as Western Kentucky will try to become the first team in Conference USA history to run the table in conference play since the Houston Cougars did it in 2011.

Western Kentucky will enter the game on a three-game winning steak after destroying FIU 63-7 on the road. Marshall will be fresh off a bye but last time out they were also seen making light work of the Panthers winning 52-0.

Western Kentucky is the favorite - S&P gives them a 68% chance to win - and if they take care of business there will be an official changing of the guard as to who runs the C-USA East division as Marshall will no longer have a conference championship to hang their hat on over WKU.

2. Southern Miss is back in a familiar position

Speaking of guards changing, it seems as if an old face is on its way to re-establishing their place atop C-USA.

After trailing at halftime to an Old Dominion team trying to become bowl eligible, Southern Miss exploded for 42 points in the second half to cruise to a 56-31 victory on their senior day.

At 8-3 overall and 6-1 in conference play if there was any hesitation as to whether the Eagles were the real deal or not the speculation should stop.

The schedule makers in C-USA were rewarded once again as the win by Southern Miss sets up a winner take all battle next Saturday when Southern Miss plays Louisiana Tech to decide who wins C-USA West.

The game will definitely serve as an undercard to Marshall and Western Kentucky's heavyweight fight the day before but will have the same significance about what it means for the programs going forward.

As the only original member left in a conference in which they used to dominate, Todd Monken has brought the Eagles a long way from the doldrums they were in a few years ago to within two games of winning Southern Miss' sixth Conference USA Championship.

Standing in Southern Miss' way will be rival Louisiana Tech who has emerged as one of the conference's premier teams since joining the league in 2013 when Southern Miss was trying to crawl out of the division's basement.

Whether the Eagles win or lose on the road next week in the rivalry game against a veteran savvy Louisiana Tech team and continue their road back to C-USA prominence remains to be seen.

But what can be assured to the folks in C-USA is Southern Miss is officially back to being the Southern Miss program we're accustomed to seeing; Competing for conference championships and being a bowl team.

For a conference still trying to figure out their footing post-realignment, that's a good thing.

C-USA will not fill out all of its bowl tie-ins

Its been speculated for a while now that barring absolute mayhem in the final weeks of the season the conference will not have enough bowl teams to fill its bowl tie-ins.

It finally came to fruition.

Middle Tennessee did their part by defeating North Texas 41-7 to clinch their sixth win of the season.

Everyone else, eh, not so much.

FIU got destroyed in their home season finale against WKU 63-7 to finish the season 5-7 and Rice looked listless in a 34-24 loss against UTSA to continue a four-game losing streak making their record 4-7.

As of now the conference has five bowl eligible teams with a chance for one more team to make it six: Old Dominion

The Monarchs are 5-6 and will host 2-9 FAU next Saturday.

Last season, Old Dominion entered their final game 5-6 and the opponent was none other than - drum roll please - FAU!

The Monarchs won 31-28 to finish their first season as a member of C-USA 4-4 in conference play but even with a 6-6 record were unable to play in a bowl game due to NCAA rules.

Old Dominion will have a chance to repeat history as they will finish once again 6-6, 4-4, if they defeat FAU.

The difference this time is they will in fact play in the postseason.