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Three things we learned from Conference USA in Week 1

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FAU and FIU have a long way to go and Middle Tennessee can’t be counted on for anything.

NCAA Football: Navy at Florida Atlantic Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Same old sorry FAU and FIU

NCAA Football: Navy at Florida Atlantic
The hype couldn’t save FAU from a beatdown in front of a national audience.
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

If you watched NFL Films back in the day or grew up a Rams fan like myself, the saying above is a familiar one: “Same old sorry ass Rams!” Former San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Dana Stubblefield said the infamous quote.

After Week 1 I’m sure Conference USA fans and the college football world have the same sentiment in regards to the South Florida twins. Despite the hype garnered from hiring Lane Kiffin and Butch Davis and the uptick in recruiting, FAU and FIU are still the same old sorry ass FAU and FIU.

The South Florida twins were outscored 103-36 in the opening week. FIU was crushed by UCF, as the Panthers looked overmatched for the majority of the game. FAU looked inept in their defeat to Navy as they couldn’t get off the field and handle even the simplest task of snapping the ball correctly. I attended both games this past weekend to see if a change of guard in C-USA could take place this season and came away feeling there’s not a chance in hell this is the year it happens.

Despite a bad first impression I still think Butch and Lane will get things turned around at FIU and FAU, respectively. Four years after Stubblefield mocked the Rams, the Rams won the Super Bowl. There’s hope FAU and FIU fans!

Middle Tennessee still hasn’t turned the corner yet

NCAA Football: Vanderbilt at Middle Tennessee
Middle Tennessee has ample opportunities to prove the opener was a fluke but I’m not buying it.
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Middle Tennessee played Vanderbilt in what I believed was the Game of the Week for C-USA. Time to prove once and for all that MTSU is done underachieving and ready to take C-USA by storm right?

Nope. Not even close. The Blue Raiders’ vaunted offense was shutout at halftime and eventually lost 28-6 in front a huge turnout in Murfreesboro. Scott Schafer’s defense looked dicey in the first half but did their job, holding Vandy to an astounding 71 rushing yards. For the first time in a while, the defense isn’t the reason MTSU lost a high-profile game. The offense was the culprit.

MTSU gained 215 total yards on offense and gained just 14 first downs. Brent Stockstill didn’t look right, the rushing attack looked awful, and the receivers had a hard time getting open. Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason is a master defensive specialist but surely MTSU had the firepower to muster more than six points.

There’s no shame in losing to an SEC team, but if MTSU wants to be considered one of the better G5 teams in the country and prove that they are the team to beat in C-USA, a better performance at home is expected and once again Rick Stockstill’s team didn’t deliver.

Conference USA is more popular, but the product on the field still has a long ways to go

2017 US College Football Sydney Cup
Rice started C-USA’s poor performance in Week 0 and it continued in Week 1
Photo by Matt King/Getty Images

During the offseason Conference USA gained a ton of notoriety due to high profile coaches such as Kiffin and Davis entering the conference, as well as the steady rise of North Texas and UTSA. Add in the fact that C-USA’s most consistent programs WKU and La Tech are more healthier than ever and C-USA had suddenly become an intriguing conference to the national media.

The conference’s stock is rising, but the product on the field isn’t. C-USA went 6-7 in Week 1 with a 1-2 record against their G5 brethren. Southern Miss came close to notching a noteworthy win for the conference against Kentucky but came up short. If it wasn’t for Marshall surviving against Miami (OH) this weekend would have been a massive fail.

Exposure for C-USA has improved greatly, recruiting has gotten much better, the coaches are better too, but the play on the field still isn’t where it needs to be and after all the offseason hype that C-USA is turning the corner, Week 1 was disappointing.