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Conference USA Power Rankings Week 1

Conference USA was sacked to open the season. Who moved up after a week where a lot of teams are trending down.

NCAA Football: Vanderbilt at Middle Tennessee Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The C-USA Power Rankings are never a prediction for how things will end up, but rather a snapshot of how teams look at the moment. At the moment, no one really looks great as teams who had a chance to make a statement got embarrassed or had their game postponed.

1. WKU (1-0, Last Week: #1)

It took a while for the Tops to create some separation from Eastern Kentucky as a 31-17 victory was certainly not what I had in mind. The offense took a while to find its rhythm but I’ll chalk this up to Mike Sanford not wanting to show his hand with a road trip to Illinois this week. It’ll be an early statement opportunity for Sanford to get a win over the Power Five.

2. Louisiana Tech (1-0, LW: #2)

Similar to WKU, La Tech didn’t blow Northwestern State out like I thought they would. The offense looked fine, but not spectacular. Just like WKU, Tech will play a P5 school this week as Mississippi State will come to Ruston.

3. Old Dominion (1-0, LW: #5)

Continuing the theme from above, ODU played an FCS team and didn’t look impressive. Blake LaRussa struggled a bit as he went 14-of-20 for 161 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions. Bobby Wilder didn’t use Ray Lawry and Jeremy Cox often so I suspect ODU just wanted to beat Albany and enter Week 2 injury free.

4. UTSA (0-0, LW: #4)

The Roadrunners were off as due to Hurricane Harvey. Houston may be off the schedule but UTSA still has a chance at a landmark win with a trip to Baylor this week.

5. Southern Miss (0-1, LW: #6)

While it’s unclear why Kwadra Griggs didn’t start against Kentucky, expect for Griggs to be the starting quarterback going forward after his successful debut in the 24-17 loss to Kentucky. While Griggs got the spotlight, the defense is what really stood out as they held Kentucky to 254 total yards of offense.

6. Middle Tennessee (0-1, LW: #3)

In font of what was a fantastic turnout in Johnny Floyd Stadium, Middle Tennessee laid a giant egg as the offense failed to get anything going in their 28-6 loss to Vanderbilt. The Blue Raiders gained an abysmal 215 total yards. It’s a deflating loss no doubt but MTSU has an opportunity to redeem themselves as another winnable game against the P5 is on the docket with a trip to Syracuse this week.

7. Marshall (1-0, LW: #7)

Defense and special teams won the day for Marshall as the Herd defeated Miami (OH) 31-26. Keion Davis was named C-USA Special Teams Performer of the Week as he returned two kickoffs for touchdowns. The defense had a pick six courtesy of Chris Jackson. Both units played well, but the offense looked out of sorts. With CJ Reavis missing the first half against NC State, the offense will have to put more than 10 points on the board to make it a competitive game.

8. North Texas (1-0, LW: #10)

Mean Green took care of Lamar with ease in a 59-14 beatdown. Seth Littrell’s Air Raid offense had a much better debut compared to 2016 as Mason Fine displayed decisive decision making and Jeffery Wilson looked prime for a star-turn as he rushed for 176 yards and three touchdowns on 12 carries. We’ll see if the good vibes continue against SMU.

9. FAU (0-1, LW: #9)

In Lane Kiffin’s debut the Owls looked out of sorts in their blowout loss to Navy. Daniel Parr got the start and had his moments but a few times him and the receivers looked out-of-sync. The lack of touches for their best offensive player Devin Singletary was strange. After giving up six yards per carry to Navy, the defense must get right quickly or suffer the same outcome. FAU will take on another run-heavy team as they will travel to Madison to take on Wisconsin.

10. UAB (1-0, LW: #14)

The Blazers completed their glorious return back to the gridiron with a 38-7 win over Alabama A&M. Although there was a ton of good things to like about the win (Collin Lisa and Carlos Stephens most notably), UAB only led at the half 10-7. The offensive line did not perform well Saturday against an FCS defensive line which is a major red flag going forward.

11. FIU (0-1, LW: #8)

Dropping the Panthers below UAB was the toughest call to make this week. UAB didn’t blow me away and struggled until the later stages of the third quarter against an FCS squad. However, FIU gave up 40 points in a half and allowed UCF to score 61. I expected a much better performance from this senior-laden team and they didn’t deliver. Butch Davis might have a harder time turning things around in Miami than I thought.

12. Charlotte (0-1, LW: #11)

In a week full of disappointing performances from C-USA Charlotte was the one that caught me off guard. I thought Hasaan Klugh was going to take a step forward and he didn’t. Klugh struggled passing the ball as he went 12-of-28 for 114 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions. Klugh was still dynamic as a rusher, running for over 100 yards, but Charlotte isn’t going to reach their potential if he doesn’t become a better passer.

13. UTEP (0-1, LW: #13)

The Miners looked terrible against Oklahoma, as they gained only 176 yards on offense. Ryan Metz didn’t play well and Zack Greenlee played yet again. The home opener against Rice is a must-win.

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

Rice started C-USA off with an embarrassing lost so they get to be in the basement this week. With a week off to prepare for UTEP after their debacle in Australia against Stanford, I expect Rice to come out with all hands on deck and a much more open playbook than the one showcased in Week 0.

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