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, there’s good vibes around the conference. North Texas’ win over Arkansas and UAB over Tulane, were wins the conference really needed (UNT especially). Other teams around the conference took care of business or were simply taken care of, providing few surprising results.
1. North Texas (3-0, Last week: #1)
The Mean Green gave C-USA their first win over the P5 this year and did so in impression fashion, blowing out Arkansas on the road for a 44-17 win. The biggest revelation of the game was how tremendous the defense was, as they forced six turnovers. The Mean green are +8 in turnover margin this year. After a tuneup against Liberty this weekend, UNT will begin conference play.
2. FAU (2-1, LW: #2)
The Owls took care of business against FCS team Bethune Cookman for a 49-28 win. Devin Singletary rushed for five touchdowns in the first half to break the single-game record for most rushing touchdowns in a game. The Owls head to Orlando on Friday night for another primetime game as the matchup with UCF will determine if FAU is capable of joining North Texas as a team who can make a run for the New Year’s Six.
3. Marshall (2-0, LW: #3)
The Herd had their South Carolina game cancelled due to Hurricane Florence. Fortunately, they have another shot at a P5 team as they will host North Carolina State.
4. Louisiana Tech (2-0, LW: #4)
The Bulldogs will head to Baton Rouge and play No. 6 LSU. The Tigers are coming off of an emotional road win over Auburn. The Bulldogs have had two weeks to prepare so I’m expecting Skip Holtz and co. to have a game-plan good enough to give the Tigers a game.
5. FIU (2-1, 1-0, LW: #5)
FIU had one of the more impressive showings of the week as the Panthers beat UMass 63-24. James Morgan looked good, the rushing attack looked great and the defense showcased that Florida speed. I wanted to move the Panthers up after their impressive performance but to be frank, UMass isn’t very good and to be more frank, I expect all FBS teams from Florida to beat the Minutemen. A matchup with Miami awaits, as Butch Davis will face his former team.
6. UAB (2-1, LW: #7)
After a disappointing loss to Coastal Carolina in which fans believed Bill Clark was out-coached, the Blazers pulled off a tough home win over rival Tulane. The passing offense still needs a lot of work, but the rushing attack and rushing defense had a bounce-back game. Spencer Brown rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown and the defense held Tulane’s option offense to 175 yards. UAB begins conference play at home against Charlotte this Saturday.
7. Southern Miss (1-1, LW: #8)
Like Marshall, the Golden Eagles had their game cancelled against App State due to Hurricane Florence. News was made however, as Kwadra Griggs has been reinstated to the team and could start in their conference opener against Rice. Last time out the Golden Eagles suffered a deflating loss to ULM. With an unexpected week to prepare and stew, USM could have a big day against Rice.
8. Middle Tennessee (1-2, LW: #6)
The Blue Raiders had a rough day in Athens as they lost to Georgia 49-7. Three games in and I’m not quite sure what to make of MTSU. They are who we thought they’d be? Maybe. Middle will have two weeks to prepare before hosting FAU in their conference opener.
9. Charlotte (2-1, 1-0, LW: #12)
Got to give credit to the fighting Lamberters. The 49ers won their first conference opener since joining C-USA with a 28-25 win over Old Dominion. Chris Reynolds was sharp, going 23-of-34 with 204 yards and two touchdowns. I still don’t think Charlotte is particularly any good but progress has definitely been made as they have surpassed last year’s win total. A road-trip to UMass this weekend is arguably their biggest game of the season.
10. UTSA (0-3, LW: #10)
The toughest non-conference schedule in C-USA is just about over for UTSA as they suffered their third straight loss to a P5 team over the weekend. UTSA looked out of sorts in their 41-17 loss to Kansas State. A rivalry game against Texas State at home will give the Roadrunners an opportunity to play a team with around the same talent level for the first time this season. Fans are questioning Frank Wilson’s decision making and a loss here will really stoke the flames of a fan base that’s beginning to lose patience.
11. Rice (1-2, LW: #11)
Rice was on a bye week and will head to Southern Miss for their conference opener.
12. WKU (0-3, LW: #13)
The Hilltoppers played some passionate football against in-state foe Louisville and led at halftime 14-0. Unfortunately when the Cardinals made their run, the Tops began to fold as Louisville went on to win 20-17. There’s some positive things to takeaway however, as the Tops had their best day on the ground in the Mike Sanford era. The team rushed for 168 yards. Freshman David Shanley got the start at QB and provided a much-needed spark. We’ll see if the good vibes continue on the road against Ball State.
13. Old Dominion (0-3, 0-2, LW: #10)
The Monarchs suffered a gut-wrenching 28-25 loss on the road that could have been avoided. ODU missed and extra point and Bobby Wilder decided to chase points with two missed 2-point conversions. ODU had by far the easiest schedule to start the season as they have played Liberty, FIU and Charlotte. The schedule ramps up in difficulty as they will host Virginia Tech this weekend.
14. UTEP (0-3, LW: #14)
UTEP gained 134 total yards in their 24-0 loss to Tennessee. If they don’t beat a winless New Mexico State team this weekend, they are going to go winless.