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Conference USA Week 2 Power Rankings

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The top of the conference looks good but the bottom is a hot mess.

NCAA Football: Savannah State at Southern Mississippi Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

1. Southern Miss (2-0, Last week: #1)

Last result: Southern Miss 56 Savannah State 0

The Golden Eagles didn’t mess around in this one and even showed some improvement as the defense pitched a shutout. After getting blitzed for 35 points in the first half against Kentucky, Southern Miss has kept the opponent off the scoreboard for six straight quarters. Next week is Southern Miss’ last tune up before conference play starts.

Next week: vs Troy

2. Western Kentucky (1-1, 1-0, LW: #2)

Last result: Western Kentucky 10 Alabama 38

There’s absolutely no shame in the Hilltoppers losing to the best team in the country on the road so there is no way I’m docking WKU. After all, they gave the Tide a better challenge than the mighty Trojans.

Next week: at Miami (OH)

3. Marshall (1-0, LW: #3)

Last result: Marshall 62 Morgan St. 0

After not playing in the opening week, Marshall easily dispatched Morgan State to start the season. Chase Litton looked great, tossing six touchdowns in the first half and the defense was phenomenal in forcing four turnovers in the shutout.

Being that it’s an FCS opponent, there isn’t too much to takeaway. Next week is when we will learn a little bit more about the Herd before their intriguing two-game stretch against Louisville and Pittsburgh.

Next week: vs Akron

4. Louisiana Tech (1-1, LW: #5)

Last result: La Tech 53 South Carolina St 24

After a crazy weather delay, the Bulldogs were finally able to hit the field and senior Ryan Higgins looked good in his first start since 2013, tossing four touchdowns with 409 yards. Fans clamored to see J’Mar Smith but I think Higgins will be the guy going forward.

After seeing what Arkansas’ offense did against TCU, it’s safe to say that the Bulldogs defense will be a force come conference play. A trip to Lubbock could provide another opportunity for a landmark win for Skip Holtz.

Next week: at Texas Tech

5. UTEP (1-1, LW: #6)

Last result: UTEP 7 Texas 40

The defense stood strong for a half, only allowing the Longhorns to score 20 points but the offense couldn’t muster anything in the passing attack. Aaron Jones was his usual awesome self, rushing for 123 yards and one touchdown but the quarterbacks struggled.

With Zack Greenlee out for at least two more weeks due to injuries, Kavika Johnson and Ryan Metz both took snaps and both looked bad as neither passed for over 100 yards.

With conference play on the horizon, the Miners need Johnson or Metz to significantly improve in the next two weeks or they will have no shot in the conference opener against Southern Miss.

Next week: vs Army

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

Last result: Middle Tennessee 24 Vanderbilt 47

I was worried about Middle Tennessee’s ability to stop the run and my worries were confirmed as they allowed 231 rushing yards in the loss. Vandy’s Ralph Webb rushed for 211 yards and two touchdowns.

The offense was incredibly imbalanced as Brent Stockstill passed for 399 yards while the team rushed for 96 yards. A loss against an SEC team on the road isn’t anything to be ashamed of but the Blue Raiders were touted as CUSA East favorites and the fact that they surrendered 47 points to a one-dimensional Vandy offense is very concerning.

Next week: at Bowling Green

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

Last result: Old Dominion 7 App State 31

The Monarchs just couldn’t get any consistency from David Washington through the air and as a result, the offense struggled. Ray Lowry was great, rushing for 119 yards and one touchdown on 15 carries.

The defense did their best to keep them in the game but similar to UTEP, ODU has an offense that is heavily dependent on its running back doing everything and against superior teams that type of offense isn’t going to work.

Next week: at NC State

8. FAU (1-1, LW: #9)

FAU’s defense looked great against Miami, limiting Brad Kaaya to 191 yards while forcing him to throw two interceptions. The game against Southern Illinois was an aberration defensively, the Owls passing defense is going to be legit in conference play.

Unfortunately, the run defense will be an issue as they allowed 279 rushing yards and five touchdowns. The offense still looks out of sorts as FAU gained 214 total yards for the night.

Next week: at Kansas State

9. UTSA (1-1, LW: #8)

Last result: UTSA 14 Colorado State 23

Despite the defense doing enough to win the game, the coaching staff inexplicable platooned Dalton Sturm and Jared Johnson throughout the game and as a result cost the Roadrunners the game.

Sturm passed for two touchdowns and 176 yards. Johnson passed for 60 yards, with five completions out of seven pass attempts. The offense had more rhythm when Sturm was in the game yet Johnson still saw playing time in critical second-half possessions. Chalk this loss to Frank Wilson growing on the job.

Next week: vs Arizona State

10. FIU (0-2, LW: #10)

Last result: FIU 14 Maryland 41

After giving Indiana a good game for three quarters, the Panthers decided not to show up in this one as they trailed 31-7 at the half.

Ron Turner’s days should be numbered and if they lose to UMass this Saturday a two-win season will be on the table for the Panthers.

Next week: at UMass

11. North Texas (1-1, LW: #11)

Last result: North Texas 41 Bethune-Cookman 20

The offense still had its hiccups but it’s appearing that the ground game will be the go-to this year as the Mean Green were able to get significant contributions from Jeffery Wilson and Willy Ivery for the second week in a row.

I suspected that Mason Fine will probably be the starter for the remainder of the season following this game and I was right as Seth Littrell has given the reigns to the freshman. I like the move.

Next week: at Florida

12. Rice (0-2, LW: #12)

Last result: Rice 14 Army 31

The passing offense couldn’t get on track against Army and that doesn’t bode well for when conference play starts as Rice will see more athletic defenders in the secondary.

This team doesn’t have that much talent. What that means for David Bailiff going forward is going to be to interesting.

Next week: vs Baylor

13. Charlotte (1-1, LW: 13)

Charlotte 47 Elon 14

I wanted to move Charlotte up. I really did. But I think Rice still beats them head-to-head. After an abysmal opener, Kevin Olsen looked much better, throwing three touchdowns with zero interceptions.

If they beat Eastern Michigan next week, the 49ers will definitely be moving up.

Next week: vs Eastern Michigan