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Conference USA Power Rankings Week 8

The top of the league continues to assert their dominance as the middle and bottom of C-USA remains fluid.

NCAA Football: Western Kentucky at Miami (Ohio) Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

1. Western Kentucky (5-3, 3-1, Last Week: #1)

Last result: Western Kentucky 59 Old Dominion 24

The Hilltoppers were incredible on offense as WKU scored a touchdown on their first five possessions. At halftime WKU led 52-14. The defense was the unsung hero of the game as they shut down ODU’s rushing attack, holding them to 67 rushing yards. After Saturday’s performance there isn’t any doubt that WKU is the best team in Conference USA right now.

Next week: at FAU

2. Middle Tennessee (5-2, 3-1, LW: #2)

Last result: Middle Tennessee 51 Missouri 45

After suffering one of their toughest losses in the Rick Stockstill era, MTSU up picked one of their biggest wins since the former Florida State quarterback took the job in 2006. The win over Missouri was MTSU’s first win over an SEC team since 2005. The Blue Raiders are one WKU slip up from controlling their own destiny to win C-USA East.

3. Louisiana Tech (5-3, 3-1, LW: #3)

Last result: Louisiana Tech 44 FIU 24

Tech’s offense was too much to handle for FIU and after struggling on the road early in the season, the Bulldogs have now won two straight games away from Ruston. This week it was Trent Taylor’s turn to shred an opponent’s secondary as he finished with a game-high 11 catches for 156 yards and one touchdown. La Tech still controls their destiny for their second C-USA West division title in school history.

4. Southern Miss (4-3, 2-1, LW:#4)

Last result: Bye

The bye came at a perfect time for USM as they now can focus squarely on a conference slate that shouldn’t be too daunting before the Rivalry In Dixie.

Next week: Marshall

5. Old Dominion (4-3, 2-1, LW: #5)

Last result: Old Dominion 24 Western Kentucky 59

ODU had two weeks to prepare for Western Kentucky’s high-scoring offense and looked like they didn’t even belong on the same field as the Hilltoppers scored the game’s first 35 points halfway through the second quarter. Old Dominion has beaten up on the lesser talented teams in the conference but is still a notch below the top-tier teams. I kept them here because I trust them more than the rest of the teams in the league.

Next week: at UTEP

6. North Texas (4-3, 2-1, LW: #8)

Last result: North Texas 35 Army 18

North Texas used the bye week to their advantage as they forced SEVEN Army turnovers en route to an easy victory. This was a much needed win for UNT in order for Seth Littrelly to reach a bowl game during his first year in Denton. Mason Fine still looked pretty ordinary, throwing for 118 yards with one touchdown and one interception and if UNT is to reach actually reach that noteworthy sixth win, Fine must improve his accuracy down the stretch.

7. UTSA (3-4, 2-2, LW: #6)

Last result: UTSA 49 UTEP 52

The Roadrunners had several opportunities to win this five-overtime classic but couldn’t make the key plays down the stretch. What makes it worse is they probably should have never been in this position as they were up 28-14 halfway through the third quarter and failed to score a point the rest of the way in regulation. The loss severely hurts their chances at reaching a bowl game. No time to sulk as the rivalry game with a surging North Texas team is on deck.

Next week: vs North Texas

8. FIU (3-5, 3-1, LW: #7)

Last result: FIU 24 Louisiana Tech 44

FIU’s defense faced their toughest offense since UCF and got torched as their secondary focused too much on Carlos Henderson, and let Trent Taylor beat them instead. The Panthers have overachieved and I didn’t expect them to do this well under Ron Cooper but with MTSU and WKU on the schedule in the next two weeks it appears the cinderella story is going to end.

Next week: vs MTSU

9. Charlotte (3-5, 2-2, LW: #10)

Last result: Charlotte 27 Marshall 24

They did it again. The 49ers won another road game in conference play, this time in the toughest venue in the league. Hasaan Klugh has been a pleasant discovery for the offense and a spark for the team. Since he’s been the starter Charlotte has gone 2-1.

10. UTEP (2-5, 1-3, LW: #11)

Last result: UTEP 52 UTSA 49

The winner of the longest game in Conference USA history desperately needed that victory to keep their season from spiraling down. With Rice, FAU, and an FCS opponent still on the schedule the Miners could find themselves near bowl eligibility towards the end of the season.

11. Marshall (2-5, 1-2, LW: #9)

Last result: Marshall 24 Charlotte 27

I can’t believe it but Marshall is one of the worst teams in Conference USA. The offensive line is bad, their defense is awful, and the coaching decisions have been spotty at best against the easiest part of their conference schedule. The Herd doesn’t have a bye week this year so they are playing 12 straight games and with MTSU, WKU, and Southern Miss still on the schedule I wouldn’t be surprised to see them run out of gas down the stretch and finish with three wins.

Next week: at Southern Miss

12. FAU (1-6, 0-3, LW: #12)

Last result: Bye

Let’s see if FAU does a better job with their bye week than what Old Dominion did with theirs as the Owls will host WKU this Saturday.

Next week: vs Western Kentucky

13. Rice (1-6, 0-4, LW: #13)

Last result: Rice 65 Prairie View 44

The Owls got the win but gave up 44 to one of the worst teams at the FCS level. With the win David Bailiff can now exit Houston with grace.

Next week: at Louisiana Tech