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Which Conference USA Teams Got Better Throughout the Season?

We take a look at teams' quarterly performance, as measured by Football Outsiders' S/P+ ratings, to see if there are any trends to give us insight about next season.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Taking a look at a team's final record never really tells you anything close to the whole story. We use Bill C.'s rankings, broken down by quarter season, to see if we can learn anything about the year that's to come.

After the wild data nonsense that was turnover luck, I can't wait to see what we find in this...


Oh hey look, Marshall was all gangbusters throughout the seas... oh. whoops. I guess that happened, huh. Louisiana Tech fans definitely have to be happy that this team got visibly better over the course of the season - the data here just supports what we already knew in that regard, and the same could be said for Western Kentucky.

I would be hard pressed to believe, given those improvements as well as the continued presence of Brandon Doughty, the departure of Rakeem Cato, and the arrival of Jeff Driskel, that La Tech and WKU won't be the early and overwhelming title favorites for 2015.

The Rice Owls followed a similar trajectory, though their start was even more hideous - three straight losses including once to Old Dominion will do that. Of course, they could have finished even stronger had they not done that thing where they gave up 76 freaking points to Louisiana Tech in the season finale. Seriously, that one game dropped them from 41st to 91st in total points allowed.

Matter of fact, that was the same day as the wild Marshall-WKU finish. Two conference games on the same day, four teams combine for 240 points. Surely that's some kind of record.

UAB, Florida Atlantic, Old Dominion and North Texas all saw late-season spikes in their performance. For Old Dominion, that represented a streak of three close wins to sneak into - heartwarming but meaningless) bowl eligibility. For FAU, that meant two narrow losses that brought their season total to four of them. And for UAB, that meant narrowly missing being the first team to beat Marshall, followed by achieving bowl eligibility by stomping Southern Miss, followed by being kicked in the nuts.

UTEP takes the cake though, for being the bipolar-est of them all. First quarter they go 2-1 and almost take down Texas Tech. Second quarter they get absolutely annihilated by Kansas State and Louisiana Tech before pulling off a narrow victory over ODU. Third quarter they beat UTSA, Southern Miss and UNT by a combined 104-31 and narrowly miss on WKU. Then they end the season by fading against Rice, sneaking past MTSU, and never showing up against Utah State.

Definitely some reasons for hope for everyone (except maybe UTEP. Those performances are just too scatterbrained to really give or take any hope from their fans).