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Three things we learned from Conference USA in Week Eight

FAU is the real deal... Charlotte is NOT the worst team in C-USA... Never count out Southern Miss in the Rivalry in Dixie.

North Texas v Florida Atlantic Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

FAU can win Conference USA in Lane Kiffin’s first season

FAU sophomore running back Devin Singletary (5) jumps with excitement after scoring a touchdown against North Texas.
Photo by Alexander Rodriguez/University Press

With wins over Middle Tennessee and Old Dominion, the Owls looked like a team that had turned the corner after going 1-3 in conference play. But it was hard to gauge whether the Owls should be viewed as a serious contender to win C-USA.

Yes, FAU won both conference games in convincing fashion but the opposition wasn’t exactly impressive. Middle Tennessee was without their star players and Old Dominion was dealing with their own injury issues, not to mention having to start the youngest quarterback in the FBS.

North Texas, a first place team in C-USA West, would be a huge test to see just where the Owls stand with the best teams in the conference. After gouging North Texas for over 400 rushing yards en route to a 69-31 victory, I’d say the Owls passed the test and even earned some extra credit.

Although the stats on the ground stand out, it was Jason Driskel’s performance that really made the Owls go on offense against UNT. Driskel took the next step as a passer as he didn’t hold on to the ball, making quick reads and usually the right ones. He stayed away from turnovers and negative plays. He was very accurate in every facet of the pasing offense. It was by far the best game of his career.

Defensively the P5 and JUCO transfers in the front seven that struggled to make an massive impact during non-conference play really stepped up as Jeffrey Wilson was held to 49 rushing yards. The secondary held Jalen Guyton to zero catches without their best corner Raekwon Williams.

It was a complete game from the Owls and a game that announced the Owls as a serious threat to win the conference this season.

Charlotte avoids a winless season

For one week, the fire Brad Lambert fan club will have to settle down as the Charlotte 49ers defeated the UAB Blazers in overtime for a 25-24 win. The 49ers put it all on the line by going for two in overtime and used a trick play to get the job done.

At one point Charlotte trailed 17-0 near the end of the third quarter. Obviously the comeback victory is telling. The 49ers didn’t quit in the slightest and the coaching staff, at least for a week, made the right decisions and put the players in the right position for the win.

Charlotte can only play the role of spoiler from here on out and they’ve lived up to the role as UAB is now a longshot to win C-USA West. It was weird to see a Blazers team play with a sense of complacency. The hunger and drive we saw weeks prior just wasn’t there and it proved to be costly.

The Blazers aren’t talented enough to play through the motions and win. Charlotte was hungrier last night, and that’s why the 49ers got their first win of the season.

Southern Miss still has Louisiana Tech’s number

Against all odds, Southern Miss defeated La Tech once again as the Golden Eagles have now won three straight over Tech. Two years ago with C-USA West on the line, USM crushed Tech on the road to complete Todd Monken’s rebuild. Last year USM was able to upset Tech at home and avoid a losing season. This season the Golden Eagles kept their hopes of a division title alive with yet another win that seemed unlikely.

Down 11 with just over four minutes to play the Golden Eagles scored a field goal, recovered an onside kick, scored a touchdown and converted the two-point play necessary to extend the game to overtime.

It was a crazy finish that ended in a really apt way: a defensive stop. Southern Miss’ defense has been consistent all season and in this game they stepped up yet again. After Keon Howard found Korey Robertson for a touchdown on the first play of the second overtime, the defense forced La Tech to go four plays and out.

Entering the season USM had by far the toughest draw out of their C-USA West peers as they had to go to La Tech and UTSA. For them to win both games as an underdog speaks to the job Jay Hopson has done as the Golden Eagles are a pretty young team.

All USM needs to do is run the table and have North Texas lose one more game to win the division. The Golden Eagles remaining conference schedule: UAB, at Rice, Charlotte, at Marshall.