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Conference USA Power Rankings Week 11: Time to give La Tech the top spot

After spending weeks as the second best team, La Tech jumps Western Kentucky.

NCAA Football: Louisiana Tech at North Texas Sean Pokorny-USA TODAY Sports

1. Louisiana Tech (8-3, 6-1, Last Week: #2)

Last result: Louisiana Tech 63 UTSA 35

After much contemplation I decided to move Tech to the number 1 spot. The Bulldogs dominated a hot UTSA team - and ran up the score - on senior day to finish 5-0 at Joe Aillet Stadium and have now won seven games in a row.

As much as I wanted remain stubborn about keeping the Hilltoppers ahead of La Tech the Bulldogs deserved to be ahead of them this week. They have a better resume than WKU, they beat WKU at home 55-52, and they have won C-USA West.

Next week: Bye

2. Western Kentucky (8-3, 6-1, LW: #2)

Last result: Western Kentucky 45 North Texas 7

Just another ho-hum beatdown at home as the Tops improved their winning streak to five. They have yet to clinch C-USA East due to Old Dominion keeping pace but the odds are still in their favor as they control their own destiny. ODU has to play two games down the stretch (at FAU and vs FIU) whereas WKU has to play just one (at Marshall).

Next week: Bye

3. Old Dominion (7-3, 5-1, LW: #3)

Last result: Old Dominion 51 Southern Miss 35

The Monarchs took advantage of the Golden Eagles missing star quarterback Nick Mullens as they forced five turnovers against USM’s backup quarterback Keon Howard. Jeremy Cox and Ray Lawry continues to be a dynamic duo on the ground as they punished the Southern Miss defense for a combined 148 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns.

Next week: at FAU

4. UTSA (5-5, 4-3, LW: #4)

Last result: UTSA 35 Louisiana Tech 63

With C-USA West on the line the Roadrunners needed to play their best game of the year and they didn’t as they reverted back to what they looked like to begin the season. La Tech made them pay for it dearly.

UTSA committed way too many penalties and took too many unnecessary risks via trick plays. It was a disappointing result but their performance on Saturday showed that despite the improvement they’ve made this year they are still a young team.

Next week: at Texas A&M

5. Middle Tennessee (6-4, 4-3, LW: #5)

Last result: Middle Tennessee 17 Marshall 45

In MTSU’s seven games in conference play they have allowed their opponents to score at least 30 points five times. Their record in those five contests are 2-3 and that has been the story of their season. The defense was an issue again in Huntington on Saturday. What surprised me was how pass heavy the offense was. With Brent Stockstilll out you would think MTSU would lean on I’Tavius Mathers more on the road but he only received 15 carries against Marshall.

Next week: at Charlotte

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

Last result: Southern Miss 35 Old Dominion 51

Turnovers have been an issue all season and with freshman Keon Howard getting the start it only got worse as he committed all five turnovers with four fumbles lost and an interception.

Howard looked dynamic as a runner with 98 rushing yards and 1 touchdown but he needed 28 carries to get there. Not exactly the workload you want your freshman quarterback to take in his first career start. If Mullens can’t go the rest of the way Southern Miss won’t make it to a bowl game in a season in which many expected Jay Hopson to lead this team to a C-USA West division title at the least.

Next week: at North Texas

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

Last result: Charlotte 21 Rice 22

After leading 21-0 in the second quarter the 49ers allowed Rice to score 22 unanswered to get the win. After back-to-back road wins it appeared the 49ers were ready to take the next step but instead they took two steps back. Games against MTSU and UTSA to close out the year are going to make it very tough to get a bowl bid.

Next week: vs Charlotte

8. North Texas (4-5, 2-3, LW: #7)

Last result: North Texas 7 Western Kentucky 45

The Mean Green are now on a three-game losing streak and appears to have peaked in the middle of the season as they now look like the team to start the year when they couldn’t do anything right offensively. Being outscored 90-31 by C-USA’s best teams in the past two weeks shows just how much of a rebuild Seth Littrell has on his hands in Denton.

Next week: vs Southern Miss

9. Marshall (3-7, 2-4, LW: #11)

Last result: Marshall 45 Middle Tennessee

Marshall fans have been waiting all season for Chase Litton and the offense to play to their potential and they finally did as they scored 28-unanswered in the second half to blow out MTSU. Litton had the best game of his season, tossing 4 touchdowns for 246 yards.

10. FAU (3-7, 2-4, LW: #12)

Last result: FAU 35 UTEP 31

FAU is in the midst of a two-game winning streak, their first ever winning streak under Charlie Partridge. Their comeback win against UTEP has provided proof that FAU is turning a corner under Partridge. The team is playing with more confidence and the offense is now clicking as they are averaging 38.5 points during the mini winning streak.

Next week: vs Old Dominion

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

Last result: Bye

The Panthers were on a bye but received some good news: Butch Davis is the new head coach!

Next week: vs Marshall

12. UTEP (3-7, 1-5, LW: #10)

Last result: UTEP 31 FAU 35

With a run at a bowl game on the line the defense allowed FAU to march 96 yards for the game-winning touchdown. If it weren’t for Southern Miss, UTEP would be the most disappointing team in the conference as they had the easiest schedule in the league entering the season.

Next week: at Rice

13. Rice (2-8, 1-6, LW: #13)

Last result: Rice 22 Charlotte 21

That was a character win for Rice. David Bailiff could potentially save his job as he closes the season against in-state rival UTEP and Stanford.

Next week: vs UTEP