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Conference USA Power Rankings Week 9

Western Kentucky and Louisiana Tech look the part as the two appear to be on a collision course for a rematch in the C-USA Championship Game.

NCAA Football: Western Kentucky at Florida Atlantic Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

1. Western Kentucky (6-3, 4-1, Last Week: #1)

Last result: Western Kentucky 52 FAU 3

The Hilltoppers strolled into FAU Stadium and put a beatdown on the Owls. The offense was explosive as usual. Mike White passed for 307 yards and three touchdowns. Ace Wales rushed for 86 yards and a pair of touchdowns despite missing the first half.

Defensively WKU wouldn’t allow FAU to surpass 150 yards until the fourth quarter when their backups were in the game. Over the last two weeks WKU has outscored their C-USA East division opponents 111-27 and have now clinched bowl eligibility for the third straight year under Jeff Brohm. Of course, WKU has their eyes set on much bigger things. A second straight appearance in the conference championship game awaits should they win out.

Next week: vs FIU

2. Louisiana Tech (6-3, 4-1, LW: #3)

Last result: Louisiana Tech 63 Rice 16

Similar to Western Kentucky, Tech made their opponent look like an FCS team as the Bulldogs had a 28-point lead after the first quarter. Boston Scott had a career day with 137 yards and two touchdowns. Like WKU, the Bulldogs clinched a bowl game for the third straight year which is the first time ever such a feat has been accomplished in Ruston. I could go for a Louisiana Tech vs WKU rematch for all the marbles in December.

Next week: at North Texas

3. Middle Tennessee (6-2, 4-1, LW: #2)

Last result: Middle Tennessee 42 FIU 35

I expected Middle Tennessee to look lethargic in Miami after a big win over Missouri but I didn’t think they would need all four quarters to escape with a victory. D.J. Sanders’ pick 6 for the win saved what was otherwise an awful day for the MTSU defense. Much was made about last week’s C-USA Power Rankings how Tech, MTSU, and WKU were virtually interchangeable but after last week in which Tech and WKU both crushed inferior opponents easily while the Blue Raiders barley hung on, I think it’s safe to say that WKU and Tech have created a little bit of separation between the Blue Raiders this week.

Next week: vs UTSA

4. Southern Miss (5-3, 3-1, LW: #4)

Last result: Southern Miss 24 Marshall 14

The Golden Eagles ended their two-game losing streak with a ho-hum win over Marshall. The offense stayed away from turnovers for the most part and the defense balled out, holding the Herd under 250 total yards of offense. Ito Smith continues to be a workhorse as he led USM with 140 rushing yards and two touchdowns. As long as Southern Miss continues to run their offense through him the Golden Eagles will be in every game down the stretch.

Next week: vs Charlotte

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

Last result: Old Dominion 31 UTEP 21

After being humiliated in Bowling Green last week ODU went to El Paso and looked like the team we saw at the start of conference play as the Monarchs used the rushing attack and a solid defense to come away with a victory. The Monarchs have continued to look the part as a solid team against inferior opponents and are now a win away from bowl eligibility. Not bad for a team who was projected to finish sixth in C-USA East.

Next week: vs Marshall

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

Last result: UTSA 31 North Texas 17

I was wrong about UTSA last week as I didn’t think they were capable of bouncing back after a gut-wrenching loss to UTEP. The Roadrunners will own bragging rights over North Texas this year and with both schools trending upwards this win will be a great recruiting tool for Frank Wilson on the trail. Still needing two wins to become bowl eligible, the Roadrunners must spring an upset down the stretch. A road game in Murfreesboro awaits.

Next week: at Middle Tennessee

7. North Texas (4-4, 2-2, LW: #6)

Last result: North Texas 17 UTSA 31

As great a day as Mason Fine had on the ground, the Mean Green are not going to win any games going forward if Jeffery Wilson is not the leading rusher. The defense did their best to keep them in the game but the offense did them no favors as they could not stay on the field. Similar to UTSA, UNT needs to spring an upset down the stretch if they are to reach a bowl game.

Next week: vs Louisiana Tech

8. FIU (3-6, 3-2, LW: #8)

Last result: FIU 35 Middle Tennessee 42

Alex McGough played a hell of a game against Middle Tennessee and they wouldn’t have been in position to win the game without him. With that said, McGough’s back breaking pick six may have ended any hopes of a bowl game. The Panthers have looked so much better under Ron Cooper but unless he gets FIU to the postseason I don’t see him getting the job. FIU’s remaining schedule is at Western Kentucky, vs Marshall, and at Old Dominion.

Next week: at Western Kentucky

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

Last result: Bye

The 49ers entered the bye after defeating Marshall on the road. They close the season with games against Southern Miss, Rice, Middle Tennessee, and UTSA. If they can win one more game this season will go down as an absolute success after the football program didn’t even look like they belonged on the same field against some C-USA teams last year.

Next week: at Southern Miss

10. UTEP (2-6, 1-4, LW: #10)

Last result: UTEP 21 Old Dominion 31

Their anemic offense who failed to muster anything this Saturday aside from Aaron Jones handoffs continues to handicap this team. UTEP is 1-4 in the Sun Bowl this season which can’t sit well with the UTEP faithful. Fortunately for UTEP fans, the schedule is so bad down the stretch that you can still talk yourselves into thinking the Miners will go bowling. UTEP’s final games are vs Houston Baptist, at FAU, at Rice, and vs North Texas.

Next week: vs Houston Baptist

11. Marshall (2-6, 1-3 LW: #11)

Last result: Marshall 14 Southern Miss 24

Marshall’s offense has been dreadful this season and they didn’t look any better in Hattiesburg. Barring a miraculous turnaround, the Herd will miss the postseason for the first time since 2012.

Next week: at Old Dominion

12. Rice (1-7, 0-5, LW: #13)

Last result: Rice 16 Louisiana Tech 61

They just don’t have the talent but at least their trying. They move up only because it appears another team has appeared to give up.

Next week: vs FAU

13. FAU (1-7, 0-4, LW: #12)

Last result: FAU 3 Western Kentucky 52

The Owls suck. Both Rice and FAU looked like FCS-caliber programs this past weekend but only one team was projected to make a run at the postseason this year and that was FAU. Last Saturday the football team appeared to have absolutely zero heart. Daniel Parr and Jason Driskel have not looked the part this season and I blame a lot of that on the coaching staff as neither quarterback has developed. The program has cratered in Charlie Partridge’s third season in Boca and the team hasn’t even reached rock bottom yet. That, my friends would be a loss to Rice. A loss to a fellow cellar dweller this weekend should be the final nail in the coffin of the Partridge era.

Next week: at Rice