The Conference 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, I think it’s safe to say there are four clear tiers in C-USA this season.
Tier 1: UAB, Louisiana Tech, North Texas. Tier 2: FIU, Middle Tennessee, Marshall, Southern Miss. Tier 3: FAU, Charlotte, UTSA. Tier 4: ODU, WKU, Rice, UTEP. The gap between tiers 1 and 4 is huge. No one in tier 3 is going to win C-USA but each are capable of pulling off an upset against teams in tier 1 and 2. A team from tier 2 could win C-USA but it would be a surprise if a team in tier 1 didn’t end up winning the conference.
1. UAB (6-1, 4-0, Last Week: #1)
The Blazers are the hottest team in C-USA as they currently hold a five-game winning streak after beating North Texas in a thriller. Two years removed from shutting down the football program, UAB is now the favorite to win C-USA. What more can you possibly say about the job Bill Clark has done.
2. FIU (5-2, 3-0, LW: #4)
Not sure if he would qualify considering he played QB last season, but if he does, Maurice Alexander should be in contention to win Newcomer of the Year. The position change to WR has added an explosive element to FIU’s special teams and offense, as he dazzled yet again with a 51-yard TD run in the win over Rice.
3. Louisiana Tech (5-2, 3-1, LW: #2)
The Bulldogs played with fire last week and almost got burned. Fortunately for the Bulldogs, they still have Jaylon Ferguson. Ferguson had 3.5 sacks, and pretty much saved Tech from an embarrassing loss to UTEP.
4. North Texas (6-2, 2-2, LW: #3)
UNT will kick themselves in the foot for not winning C-USA West this season. The Mean Green held a 15-point lead over Tech and a 10-point lead over UAB. Both games somehow resulted in a loss. After being 5-0 in one-possession games in 2017, the Mean Green are now 1-2 in such games this season.
5. Middle Tennessee (4-3, 3-1, LW: #5)
In a sloppy game, MTSU defeated Charlotte 21-13 due to their savior Brent Stockstill as he passed for three touchdowns. In a muddled C-USA East, MTSU is very much in the hunt but as we saw against Charlotte, they don’t have much room for error against anyone in the conference. Their combined margin of victory and defeat during conference play is 5.5 points.
6. Marshall (5-2, 3-1, LW: #6)
Without all-conference LB Chase Hancock, Marshall forced five turnovers in their win over FAU. As long as Marshall takes care of business at home, the season finale against FIU should determine if they win C-USA East.
7. Southern Miss (3-3, 2-1, LW: #8)
A 10-point win over UTSA isn’t going to impress anyone in C-USA, but a win is a win. The Golden Eagles are the only team that stands in the way of UAB winning C-USA West.
8. FAU (3-4, 1-2, LW: #7)
After being the toast of the conference with a lot of national attention last season, FAU is now among the forgotten mediocre G5 teams. This year’s fall from grace is largely attributed to the Owls not being able to perform on the road, as they are 0-4 in games away from Boca Raton this season.
9. Charlotte (3-4, 2-2, LW: #9)
The 49ers have exceeded expectations this season as they have already surpassed their over/under win total for 2018. As we all know, that’s not exactly going to be enough for Brad Lambert to keep his job. The only way he comes back is if he’s able to get Charlotte into a bowl game. With three of their next five on the road, I just don’t see that happening.
10. UTSA (3-5, 2-2, LW: #9)
Freshman QB JoJo Weeks made his first career start against Southern Miss and looked serviceable but as is the case with all freshmen, consistency just isn’t quite there yet. The Roadrunners have two weeks to prepare for a road game against UAB. With the Roadrunners almost out of the hunt for a bowl bid, could we see Frank Wilson turn to a bunch of freshmen down the stretch?
11. Old Dominion (2-6, 1-4, LW: #11)
The two most surprising outcomes of the season belong to ODU. They are a massive upset and a WKU collapse away from being winless. Three out of their next four games are at home, as bowl hopes still remain.
12. WKU (1-6, 0-3, LW: #12)
I present to you the saddest series of tweets of the weekend.
13. Rice (1-7, 0-4, LW: #13)
The Owls are officially eliminated from bowl contention. Despite the losing season, Mike Bloomgren has the Owls headed in the right direction. With a walk-on starting at QB, Rice didn’t look inept against FIU.
14. UTEP (0-7, 0-3, LW: #14)
UTEP almost snapped their 18-game losing streak with a third-string QB. The Miners are actually playing with a ton of effort this season, a sign that Dana Dimel is actually getting through to the players. Don’t be shocked if the Miners pull off an upset in conference play.