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Three things we learned from Conference USA in Week Five

North Texas has arrived... Conference USA East is wide open... Marshall is back.

NCAA Football: North Texas at Southern Mississippi Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

North Texas has made Conference USA West a three-team race

NCAA Football: North Texas at Southern Mississippi
Jeffery Wilson rushed for 148 yards and three touchdowns against the best run defense in C-USA.
Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

North Texas has arrived y’all! The Mean Green beat Southern Miss 43-28 at The Rock to move to 3-2 overall and 2-0 in conference play. The win has moved UNT alone atop the C-USA West standings entering a bye week.

The victory over Southern Miss gives Seth Littrell the signature win the North Texas program and fan base has been looking for. Despite tangible signs of progress on the field, UNT lacked any monumental wins last season.

Not only that, but they weren’t making waves on the recruiting trail like their rivals in San Antonio. Perception around C-USA was that North Texas was getting better, but were a year away from making noise. This year we’ve seen UNT on the verge of breakthrough performances only to be outplayed in the second half against SMU and Iowa.

That changed against Southern Miss. The Mean Green outscored USM 27-7 in the second half. Seth Littrell and Graham Harrell utilized a potent balanced attack to keep Southern Miss off balanced as North Texas passed 41 times and ran the ball 46 times last night.

We knew either Southern Miss or North Texas would be the only two teams capable of giving La Tech and UTSA a run for their money this year, and last night we got our answer as to which one it’ll be. North Texas against UTSA will be a fun one in two weeks.

Conference USA East has no clear favorite

Florida International v Rice
Picked to finish 6th in C-USA East, Alex McGough has led FIU to a 2-0 start and first place.
Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

C-USA East is a mess right now. The FIU Panthers are in first place after a close win over Rice and a comeback victory over Charlotte. The Owls of FAU defeated an injury-depleted Middle Tennessee team last night.

The South Florida twins are the only teams in C-USA East with a conference win. WKU is 0-1 and no longer appears to be the juggernaut we’re accustomed to seeing. MTSU is 0-1 and dealing with injuries to their star players and Charlotte, is well Charlotte.

Old Dominion will begin conference play at home against FAU with true freshman Steven Williams at quarterback. Marshall will begin conference play on the road against Charlotte. Speaking of the Thundering Herd...

Marshall is playing the best football in C-USA East right now

Marshall v Cincinnati
Ryan Yurachek had a monster game against Cincy, finishing with six catches for 77 yards and three touchdowns.
Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Despite the weekly attrition of players leaving the football team, Marshall continues to prove that 2016 was an aberration. Marshall beatdown Cincinnati 38-21 on the road to move to 3-1 on the season. Marshall led 24-0 at the half and played with the fire and swagger that we usually see from great Marshall teams.

The emergence of the offensive line has really been the difference compared to last year as the rushing attack has made marked improvement. C-USA East is ripe for the taking right now and Doc Holliday has fixed Marshall just in time for the Herd to be considered the favorite going forward.

Marshall’s marquee games in conference play includes hosting Old Dominion, Western Kentucky, and FIU, while traveling to UTSA.