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Conference USA Week 3 Power Rankings: WKU and everyone else

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The rankings are a mess as WKU has established clear separation between them and everyone else.

NCAA Football: Western Kentucky at Miami (Ohio) Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

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

Last result: Western Kentucky 31 Miami (OH) 24

The Hilltoppers regain the top spot after Southern Miss’ loss to Troy. WKU had some troubles closing out the RedHawks on the road but eventually sealed the deal. This week the Hilltoppers added a new contributor to their offense as freshman Quinton Baker rushed for 103 yards and one touchdown.

After looking at the CUSA landscape, the Hilltoppers are the safest bet to win the conference for the second year in a row. A home game against Vanderbilt, who defeated Middle Tennessee two weeks ago, will close out the non-conference schedule.

Next week: vs Vanderbilt

2. Southern Miss (2-1, LW: #1)

Last result: Southern Miss 31 Troy 37

After earning a ton of goodwill for CUSA by defeating Kentucky, the Golden Eagles gave it all back with a home loss to the Sun Belt’s Troy Trojans. They failed to stop the run against Troy, allowing 176 rushing yards to Jordan Chunn. Not a good sign with UTEP’s Aaron Jones on the docket next week in a pivotal conference opener.

Next week: at UTEP

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

Last result: Louisiana Tech 45 Texas Tech 59

Tech couldn’t outscore Tech (Texas) as the Bulldogs fell in a shootout in Lubbock. For all the worries about the Bulldogs being in a transition year, Skip Holtz has fielded a pretty good team in this young season. Trent Taylor is a star, and Ryan Higgins has looked the part of a solid quarterback. A conference opener against Middle Tennessee will tell the tale if La Tech will be able to challenge for CUSA West.

Next week: at Middle Tennessee

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

Last result: Middle Tennessee 41 Bowling Green 21

It took a while, but the Blue Raiders were finally able to put the burners on and run away from Bowling Green. Brent Stockstill was his usual self, tossing three touchdowns for 278 yards but the emergence of I’Tavius Mathers was the story of the game. Mathers rushed for 157 yards and three touchdowns. MTSU remaining balanced offensively will be a key to their success going forward. The home game against Louisiana Tech is going to be huge if the Blue Raiders are to live up to their preseason billing.

Next week: vs Louisiana Tech

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

Last result: Marshall 38 Akron 65

If it weren’t for the rest of the conference performing so poorly I would have dropped the Herd lower. Marshall got caught looking ahead to their matchup with Louisville and paid for it severely as Akron came into the Joan and blew them out 65-38. The defense gave up 34 points in the second quarter. 34! Marshall’s highly touted secondary allowed 379 passing yards, four touchdowns, and two receivers to eclipse 100 receiving yards. Lamar Jackson comes to town next. Good luck.

Next week: vs Louisville

6. UTSA (1-2, LW: #9)

Last result: UTSA 28 Arizona State 32

The Roadrunners came extremely close to earning their first ever win over a P5 school. Conservative play calling and lack of depth did them in but it’s a great sign of progress under Frank Wilson that they were in position to win in the first place. That and the coaching staff finally realizing that Dalton Sturm should be the guy going forward. Conference play starts next week and if the Roadrunners are to earn a bowl bid a win is vital.

Next week: at Old Dominion

7. UTEP (1-2, LW: #5)

Last result: UTEP 14 Army 66

Route 66. The Miners couldn’t stop Army’s option offense and couldn’t muster anything offensively, trailing 24-0 at the half. The Miners aren’t a team built to come back from behind and with Zach Greenlee looking ineffective, UTEP must figure out their options at quarterback quickly with a Southern Miss offense capable of scoring in bunches.

Next week: vs Southern Miss

8. Old Dominion (1-2, LW: #7)

Last result: Old Dominion 22 NC State 49

The offense has Zach Pascal and nothing else right now. Pascal was great again (104 receiving yards and two touchdowns) but a lot of those stats came with the game already out of reach. Right now ODU looks like a bad team, but there are a ton of bad teams in CUSA so wins are going to be had meaning progress should be made. Hopefully.

Next week: vs UTSA

9. FAU (1-2, LW: #8)

Last result: FAU 7 Kansas State 63

The Owls suffered their worst loss in school history with what is supposed to be one of the most talented teams in school history. Something isn’t right in Boca Raton. The vaunted #nohuddlenomercy hurry up offense has been stagnant with Driskel running the show and the defense still can’t stop the run (allowed 336 rushing yards). If things aren’t corrected soon, this has all the makings of another three win season.

Next week: vs Ball State

10. North Texas (1-2, LW: #11)

Last result: North Texas 0 Florida 32

The Mean Green was awful Saturday night. More penalty yardage (70) than offensive yardage (53), and Mason Fine looked like he was in over his head running the offense going 6-22 for 66 yards and an interception. Seth Littrell’s offense should be much better in the conference opener against Rice.

Next week: at Rice

11. FIU (0-3, LW: #10)

Last result: FIU 13 UMass 21

Ron Turner’s days are officially numbered as the Panthers have lost to UMass two years in a row and have looked awful to start the season.

Next week: vs UCF

12. Rice (0-3, 0-1, LW: #12)

Last result: Rice 10 Baylor 38

The MOB has dominated Rice football headlines and for the football team that’s a good thing. David Bailiff should start thinking about a quarterback change after Tyler Stehling went 8-25 for 33 yards. The rushing offense was a bright spot as the team ran for 234 yards. The game against UNT will decide who finishes last in CUSA West.

Next week: vs North Texas

13. Charlotte (1-2, LW: #13)

Last result: Charlotte 19 Eastern Michigan 37

Perhaps I was a bit too overzealous in thinking the 49ers would blow out Eastern Michigan. The bottom is where they will stay.