1. Middle Tennessee (4-1, 2-0, Last Week: #1)
Last result: Middle Tennessee 30 North Texas 13
I figured Middle Tennessee was going to start slow against North Texas after their big win against Louisiana Tech and they did as they trailed by a touchdown after the first quarter, and were only up by six going into the half. But in the second half they continued to feed I’Tavius Mathers and cruise to victory.
The defense continues to find their footing as they held UNT to a season low five rushing yards for the game. With the win MTSU can look forward to hosting what will be their biggest game in Johnny ‘Red’ Stadium since joining Conference USA as they will have two weeks to prepare for Western Kentucky.
Next week: Bye
2. Western Kentucky (3-2, 1-0, LW: #2)
Last result: Western Kentucky 50 Houston Baptist 3
There really wasn’t anything of note in this game other than the fact WKU has three capable running backs who can lead the team in rushing, as Anthony Wales went for 87 yards and a touchdown.
This was a tune up game for conference play and Jeff Brohm’s team needed it after their loss to Vanderbilt. From here on out the Hilltoppers will earn everyone’s best shot in C-USA as three of their next four games will be on the road. Next up is a Thursday night battle in Ruston.
Next week: at Louisiana Tech
3. Southern Mississippi (4-1, 2-0, LW: #3)
Last result: Southern Mississippi 44 Rice 28
I was tempted to move Southern Mississippi to number two but they continue to be reckless with the ball as they had three turnovers against Rice. Losing the turnover battle is going to cost them a game against a good team. Fortunately for USM, Rice is horrible so they were able to win in comfortable fashion.
It was a record setting day for the Golden Eagles as Nick Mullens, Allenzae Staggers, and the entire offense all broke a record against a hapless Rice team. The offense will have several chances to rewrite the record books this season against outmatched C-USA West teams.
Next week: at UTSA
4. Louisiana Tech (2-3, 1-1, LW: #4)
Last result: Louisiana Tech 28 UTSA 7
The Bulldogs desperately needed a win to remain in contention for the C-USA West title and got it in a slugfest against the Miners. The offensive numbers were way down in comparison to their previous games but their defense reverted back to normal.
Jared Craft had an excellent game, rushing for 146 yards and one touchdown. La Tech’s schedule has been really tough and it doesn’t get easier as they will host the defending champs Thursday night. Because Southern Miss’ crossover schedule is easier, a loss here might be too much to overcome in the division race, making the game against WKU a must-win.
Next week: vs Western Kentucky
5. Marshall (1-3, LW: #5)
Last result: Marshall 27 Pittsburgh 43
I thought about dropping Marshall a spot but just couldn’t punish them for scheduling tough out of conference games. Their ambitious scheduling provided them opportunities to make a splash in the college football world and it backfired.
Marshall’s streak of three-straight 10-win seasons is all but over. The Herd can now squarely focus their attention on getting better during conference play and preparing for a C-USA East division race that is not going to give them much margin of error.
Next week: at North Texas
6. Old Dominion (3-2, 2-0, LW: #6)
Last result: Old Dominion 52 Charlotte 17
The Monarchs took care of business against Charlotte and didn’t even let them hang around. At halftime the score was 31-10. In the third quarter they outscored Charlotte 21-0. With a 2-0 start in conference play, ODU’s next conference game is a road tilt against Western Kentucky.
The contest will undoubtedly go a long way in determining whether Old Dominion can win the division and will provide a big stage for Bobby Wilder and his team. ODU has clearly separated themselves from the lower-half of C-USA and can put themselves one step closer in becoming bowl eligible by defeating UMass this weekend.
Next week: vs UMass
7. North Texas (2-3, 1-1, LW: #9)
Last result: North Texas 13 Middle Tennessee 30
UNT played a tough opponent and didn’t look too bad against them so they are my biggest riser in the bottom-half of C-USA. The defense sustained their momentum last week against Rice and slowed down Middle Tennessee. Unfortunately, the offense didn’t do their part and looked horrible as their rushing attack for the first time all season (Florida game aside) was shut down.
Next week: vs Marshall
8. UTEP (1-4, 0-2, LW: #8)
Last result: UTEP 7 Louisiana Tech 28
The Miners appeared to find their starting quarterback for the rest of the season as Ryan Metz went 20-28 for 215 yards and a touchdown. Unfortunately, Tech completely shut down Aaron Jones making the strides in the passing attack a moot point. Injuries were a major killer last year, but this year it just seems UTEP isn’t all that talented.
Next week: vs FIU
9. UTSA (1-3, 0-1, LW: #7)
Last result: Bye
The Roadrunners were off preparing for Southern Miss last week and if they saw what the Golden Eagles did to their Texas brethren in Rice, they better be prepared to stop the pass. I have UTSA here because they’re slightly better than the rest of the schools.
Next week: vs Southern Miss
10. FIU (1-4, 1-0, LW: #12)
Last result: FIU 33 FAU 31
Ron Cooper’s debut as interim head coach paid off in a big way as the Panthers were able to upset FAU at home and take home the Don Shula Trophy. After looking listless in their previous four games, Cooper had his team energized and prepared. The 33 points scored was the most points they scored all season. A trip to El Paso isn’t as daunting as it was in the offseason and should they win, FIU could start conference play 3-0.
11. FAU (1-4, 0-1, LW: #10)
Last result: FAU 31 FIU 33
Losing the Shula Bowl to one of the worst FIU teams in recent memory has the fan base ticked off. The offense looked good on the ground but Driskel had his worst game of the season and it came back to bite them as FAU had zero confidence Driskel could drive 90 yards down the field on their last possession. The run defense is still a problem and now FAU has to aim for moral victories the rest of the way for the third straight year under Charlie Partridge.
Next week: vs Charlotte
12. Rice (0-5, 0-3, LW: #11)
Last result: Rice 28 Southern Miss 44
The Owls allowed Southern Miss to break records through the air and total yards gained, and now you have to wonder if they will give David Bailiff the rest of the season. For what Bailiff’s done for the Rice program, I hope they let him ride it out.
Next week: Bye
13. Charlotte (1-4, 0-1, LW: #13)
Last result: Charlotte 17 Old Dominion 52
Still the worst team in the conference despite not being winless. But if Rice continues to lose, Charlotte just might move up.
Next week: at FAU