We learned who’s winning the East... and the West
FAU was already undefeated in conference play coming into Saturday, and maybe Marshall should’ve been more nervous than they were, after seeing FAU drop 69 on North Texas two weeks ago. But on Saturday, this was a changing of the guard— a division dominated by Marshall and WKU since the last round of realignment, for the most part, slipped away to the Lane Train as FAU defeated Marshall, 30-25.
In the West, a similar changing of the guard took place, as usual western champs Louisiana Tech fell to North Texas, 24-23 after a controversial call by Skip Holtz to kick a field goal on 4th and 3 late in the game, when he was only up by three points. That mistake cost the Bulldogs not only the game, but the division, as North Texas is now 5-1 in conference play, and only has to win one of its following two conference games to make the title game. Those two conference games? UTEP and Rice.
FAU may not lose again in 2017... and UTEP may never win
Regardless of schedule, the Owls have been steadily improving all season, to the point where they’re scarier than any C-USA team since WKU a year ago. After losing at Buffalo, 34-31 back in Week 4, FAU has learned from its mistakes, righted the ship, and gone on a five-game winning streak, not only going undefeated in the conference, but winning every game by an average of 21 points.
FAU’s remaining schedule is at La Tech next week (the Bulldogs played UNT close, a team FAU torched by 38), home against FIU (a strong team this year, but remember the whole ‘21 points’ thing), and at Charlotte. Add in a likely rematch against North Texas in the C-USA title game and the Owls shouldn’t even have to break a sweat until they see who they draw in their bowl game.
On the other end of the conference (figuratively and literally), UTEP fell to MTSU 30-3, dropping the Miners to 0-9 (0-5)... and the easiest game left on their schedule is La Tech. When North Texas went 1-11 two years ago, we may have chalked them up for worst C-USA team of all time, but UTEP has really outdone themselves this year, and will have their work cut out for them in 2018. Hopefully— for their sake— with an all-new coaching staff.
We learned who’s going bowling... and who’s not
After the Week 10 slate of games, five C-USA teams are bowl eligible— FAU, FIU, Marshall, North Texas, and UAB, and if you predicted that line-up back in August, you’re a freakin’ liar.
The conference has six bowl slots available, with a conditional agreement with the Independence Bowl for a seventh, provided the ACC or SEC doesn’t have enough teams (and they may not).
Southern Miss should be a lock for the 6th slot, as over the next two weeks they play Rice and Charlotte.
That’s where things get tricky:
WKU has five wins, but their remaining games are at Marshall, home against MTSU, and at FIU.
Middle Tennessee is 4-5 overall, so would have to win two of these three games: at Charlotte, at WKU, and home vs ODU.
UTSA has five wins, but their remaining schedule is home against UAB, then Marshall, then on the road against Louisiana Tech.
And speaking of La Tech, the team we all thought was going to win C-USA West is now gonna struggle to make a bowl at all. At 4-5, this team faces a daunting task of hosting FAU next week, and if they lose there they have to beat both UTEP AND UTSA to get to the post-season. So between the two, it’s likely only the Bulldogs or the Roadrunners— but not both— will see the post-season.
You can go here for more details on Underdog Dynasty’s current bowl scenarios where C-USA might steal some P5 bowl slots.
No matter how it shakes out, though, it has indeed been a crazy season in C-USA. But would we have it any other way?