It was another great week in C-USA competition, as the conference has made great strides since realignment, and certainly since a year ago. The biggest of these in its second week, being...
North Texas is no longer the worst team in the conference
The joke on Twitter at the time was that North Texas had a worse 2015 than UAB. They finished the season 1-11, they suffered a 59-point loss at homecoming to an FCS opponent, and their underperforming coach— who had never been known for wins at his previous job, either— was mercifully fired. Their lone-win came under then-interim coach Mike Canales, beating UTSA late in the season.
UNT made all that ancient history this weekend, as they began their long climb back out of the grave and into the land of the living. This weekends win over Bethune-Cookman wasn’t exactly a Power Five victory (though B-C is regularly a challenger for the best team in the MEAC), but winning by 21 is such a huge improvement over last season that it almost seemed impossible a week ago. How improved is this UNT squad, under new coach Seth Littrell? We’ll find out in two weeks, when they travel to Rice, after what will surely be a blowout loss to Florida next week. Hey, speaking of Rice...
Rice might be in trouble
The first few weeks of the season are traditionally never pretty for Group-of-Five teams, but usually that’s due to fierce out-of-conference match-ups, or else paycheck games. So when Rice lost in a blowout in Week 1 to WKU, it was cause for concern due to Rice’s lack of competitiveness, sure, but maybe WKU was just that good? WKU is, after all, really good.
But then we have this past weekend, as Rice was decisively crushed by ... Army. This was no misunderstanding, either, as Rice turned the ball over twice, and was outgained in total yards 414-289. This is despite Rice QB Tyler Stehling clearly having the better arm, throwing for 197 yards but only one touchdown. Rice had a handful of rushers who could only manage 92 yards; Army had eight plus two QBs, finishing with 396 yards on the ground. Army is now 2-0, so maybe they’re just that good, but the last 50 years on the football field say otherwise. For Rice, we’ll also find out in two weeks when they play North Texas, after what will surely also be a blowout loss to Baylor next week.
Southern Miss and Marshall are scary-good
Despite our references to blowout losses, C-USA teams were at least able to score on their Power Five competition, just as FCS teams were able to score now and again in their non-conference games against C-USA.
Unless that competition is Southern Miss or Marshall.
Southern Miss is breaking in new coach Jay Hopson, who was kicking butt in FCS just a year ago. In his first game he beat Kentucky 44-35, and this week saw his squad blank Savannah State 56-0. Even their backups shut out the Tigers, and the same can be said for Marshall, winning 62-0 this week over FCS Morgan State. Marshall had their bye week last week, making for a long season, but QB Chase Litton threw for over 300 yards yesterday on only 13 completed passes (not a typo). You know who wants to play Marshall? Nobody, that’s who.