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, you’re rankings are probably just as good as mine. C-USA West is beating each other up as expected. What wasn’t expected is that they have are much stronger than C-USA East even with UTEP and Rice holding them down. UAB, Louisiana Tech and North Texas have the three best resumes right now and as a result I’m putting them ahead of Middle Tennessee, even though the Blue Raiders are still undefeated in conference play.
1. UAB (4-1, 2-0, Last Week: #5)
UAB takes over the top spot after defeating Louisiana Tech on the road thanks to their defense. The Blazers held La Tech to 256 total yards on offense and forced three turnovers. The offense is still a work in progress, but with one of the best defenses in the country all they need from AJ Erdely is to stay away from turnovers and continue to be a threat on the ground. A road trip to Rice is on deck before a massive showdown against North Texas in Birmingham.
2. Louisiana Tech (3-2, 1-1, LW: #1)
Losing at home to UAB wasn’t all that surprising. Under Skip Holtz letdown games at home have been par for the course. However, I was very surprised that Tech couldn’t generate much offense as their offensive line was completely outmatched, allowing five sacks and 10 TFLs. With the toughest schedule in C-USA West, losing to the team with the easiest schedule in C-USA West was not ideal. The Bulldogs aren’t out of it as they still own the tie-breaker over North Texas. A road game against UTSA is a must-win though.
3. North Texas (5-1, 1-1, LW: #2)
The Mean Green eked out a 27-24 road win over UTEP. The offensive line performed well as they allowed zero sacks. While the win wasn’t as comfortable as I’d like, I figured we’d be in store for a letdown performance here after an emotional game against La Tech. UNT plays Southern Miss at home this weekend.
4. Middle Tennessee (3-2, 2-0, LW: #6)
MTSU has recorded wins over Marshall and FAU, and is undefeated in conference play. Why not put them higher? I think UNT, La Tech and UAB would beat them on a neutral field. I’m still not a complete believer in the Blue Raiders. They should have lost to FAU and they received a huge break in Marshall’s starting QB Isaiah Green missing the game. They’ve taken advantage of their breaks but they haven’t looked that impressive in the process. A win over FIU on the road this weekend will make me change my tune.
5. Marshall (3-2, 1-1, LW: #3)
Tyler King rushed for a career high 165 yards as the Herd rushed for a season-best 208 yards against Middle Tennessee. The rushing offense took some great steps forward but regressed in the passing offense with backup QB Alex Thomson. Tyre Brady got open several times against MTSU but the chemistry with Thomson just wasn’t there. If Isaiah Green doesn’t come back soon I’m afraid Marshall will have to readjust their expectations because Thomson does not look capable of beating the better teams in C-USA.
6, FIU (3-2, 1-0, LW: #4)
The Panthers had a bye and will host Middle Tennessee in this week’s game of the week as first place in C-USA East will be on the line.
7. FAU (3-3, 1-1, LW: #8)
You know expectations are high for Lane Kiffin’s offense when the Owls can score over 50 points and still feel a bit disappointed. Devin Singletary rushed for 168 yards and two touchdowns in the win over Old Dominion and is now FAU’s all-time career rushing leader. The Owls will have two weeks to prepare for a pivotal road game against Marshall.
8. Southern Miss (2-2, 1-0, LW: #7)
The Golden Eagles were on a bye and will head to North Texas this Saturday.
9. UTSA (3-3, 2-0 LW: #9)
UTSA beat Rice 20-3 with an offense that generated less than 200 yards. But a win is a win. The Roadrunners will host La Tech this weekend in what could be a low scoring game.
10. Old Dominion (1-5, 0-3, LW: #10)
The Monarchs have a really good offense and a very bad defense. Against FAU they showed how explosive they can be. If they started the season with Blake LaRussa as the QB ODU might still be in the hunt for the division. Unfortunately they’ll have to settle for playing spoiler. ODU will host Marshall in their first home game since taking down Virginia Tech.
11. WKU (1-4, 0-1, LW: #11)
Tops were on a bye and will travel to Charlotte.
12. Charlotte (2-3, 1-1, LW: #12)
The 49ers were also on a bye. WKU comes to town for the most winnable game on the schedule going forward.
13. Rice (1-5, 0-2, LW: #11)
Rice was beat up in the trenches as they ran the ball 37 times for 47 yards against UTSA. The offense has regressed little-by-little over the course of the season. I think it might be time for Mike Bloomgren to make a change at QB.
14. UTEP (0-6, 0-2, LW: #14)
Best showing of the season by far. A close loss to North Texas is a step in the right direction. At this stage of the season you hate to settle for moral victories but I think Dana Dimel will take it. I still think UTEP will finish winless but at home they will be much tougher than expected.