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Three Things We Learned From Conference USA In Week 12

Even though it’s late in the season you can still learn something new and we did. UTEP is really the worst team in Conference USA.

UTEP v Florida Atlantic Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images

UTEP Is The Worst Team In Conference USA

Throughout the season, week to week, I have been trying to determine who was the worst team in C-USA. One week I declared it was Rice. Another week I thought it was FAU.

After Rice defeated UTEP 44-24 it’s official now: UTEP is the worst team in C-USA. After the Miners lost their 10th straight road game in Houston against Rice there’s no longer a debate for who’s the worst team in the league.

Last week we hinted that UTEP was a massive disappointment this season as the Miners had the easiest schedule in Conference USA and now things have become full circle.

With All-Conference running back Aaron Jones returning to the team many believed he would be the boost the Miners would need to go bowling. As it turns out UTEP needed far more.

In conference play UTEP ranks 12th in yards per game, 11th in points per game, and the defense isn’t any better as they rank 11th in scoring defense. In S&P+ UTEP is ranked 124th, the worst in C-USA. Just for clarification only 128 teams are in the FBS.

A Texas university should never hold this title as there is enough talent in the state to go around for the G5 schools in the state to be more competitive than their conference mates.

Last year North Texas held this title after a 1-11 campaign. With a new head coach this year UNT is now one game away from bowl eligibility and will have to beat UTEP in El Paso to complete the stunning turnaround season.

Perhaps UTEP should follow what their conference rival did and bring a new face to lead the program.

C-USA East Is Still Better Than C-USA West... For Now

Since 2014 C-USA East has dominated C-USA West during conference play and this year it continued as the East won 11-6. The last East-West game of the year will be next Saturday when UTSA hosts Charlotte.

Although C-USA West could have as many as four teams reach the postseason this year compared to the East’s three, their bottom of the division is far worse as UTEP and Rice are the worst teams in the conference.

I don’t expect this trend to continue. UTSA and North Texas are both teams on the rise and in Frank Wilson and Seth Littrell’s first year both coaches are a win away from making their teams bowl eligible.

The West’s Texas programs are trending up much faster than the Florida schools in the East meaning a transition in conference power could be on the horizon in 2017.

Bowl Ramifications And More In The Final Week Of The Season

C-USA has six bowl tie-ins this year and currently has four teams bowl eligible (Western Kentucky, Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee, Old Dominion).

The league has the potential to make it seven as North Texas, UTSA, and Southern Miss enter the final week of the season at 5-6.

After North Texas’ upset win over Southern Miss the Mean Green will visit UTEP. UTSA will host Charlotte with a chance to go to their first ever bowl game. The biggest disappointment in C-USA Southern Miss, has the toughest task as they will host the best team in the league Louisiana Tech.

The final game of the regular season will mean something different for all three first-year head coaches. For Jay Hopson it’s not only a chance to win a huge rivalry game, but a chance to win back a fan base who is quickly losing faith in his ability to lead the program going forward.

For Seth Littrell a road win over UTEP would make him 2-2 against Texas teams this year which is a big deal for recruiting. Not only that but it will give his young quarterback Mason Fine extra practices which will be huge for Fine’s development.

For Frank Wilson the extra practices are also a big deal. You want to know what’s probably bigger? Clinching UTSA’s first ever bowl game in front of what should be a raucous Alamodome. Wilson has another chance to get the San Antonio market behind the Roadrunners and a win over Charlotte would go a step in that direction as it would make UTSA 4-2 at home in his debut season.