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, the conference is riding high as Old Dominion is the darling of the week after pulling off a huge upset over a top 15 team in Virginia Tech. ODU has the best win in C-USA, but they’re only 1-3. Where the heck should I rank them?
1. North Texas (4-0, Last week: #1)
It took a while due to a slow start and a weather delay, but North Texas made quick work of Liberty, a team who crushed Old Dominion to begin the season by the way. As the lone undefeated team in the conference, all New Year’s Six hopes rests with the team in Denton. A huge conference opener awaits UNT, as a talented Louisiana Tech team comes to visit in what will be the Game of the Week.
2. FAU (2-2, LW: #2)
The Owls put up a tough fight on the road against No. 13 UCF but were unable to keep pace due to missed assignments on defense and untimely turnovers on offense. It’s very likely that FAU hits their stride in conference play, but I think what we have here is a team that has the best player in the conference in Devin Singletary and a defense that is prone to give up a lot of big plays through the air. The Owls are going to have to win a lot of shootouts to repeat as C-USA champs and could very well begin conference play with a pointsy affair, as Middle Tennessee’s air raid offense will welcome FAU to Murfreesboro with two week’s to prepare for the Owls.
3. Marshall (2-1, LW: #3)
I really thought Marshall would beat NC State at home. I had a lot of faith in their offense to move the ball pretty well against the Wolfpack and for the defense to hold their own but that just didn’t happen. Marshall gained 324 yards on offense and allowed over 500 yards. Isaiah Green showed his inexperience in this one with two interceptions. I think the Herd will be fine during conference play, but like so many other teams in C-USA, consistency at QB is a concern.
4. Louisiana Tech (2-1, LW: #4)
Similar to Marshall and FAU, the Bulldogs put up a valiant fight against No. 5 LSU but a slow start to begin the game killed them. The offense was lost in the first half before J’Mar Smith started to get in rhythm. The Bulldogs scored 21 straight points to pull within three points in the fourth quarter, before LSU took control of the game again. Despite the loss, there was a lot of positives to take away from the game and the Bulldogs should feel confident about their chances to pull out a win against North Texas.
5. FIU (2-2, 1-0, LW: #5)
Another C-USA team that started too slow in the beginning of the game. Unlike the teams above them, the Panthers didn’t start mounting a comeback until Miami’s second-team offense and defense were in the game. The defense looked good in spurts, but eventually got worn down by Miami’s speed. The Panthers close non-conference play with Arkansas-Pine-Bluff from the FCS.
6. UAB (2-1, LW: #6)
The Blazers were on a bye and will play Charlotte for their conference opener. Last year the 49ers pulled off the surprise upset for their only win of the season. I’m sure UAB will be motivated for this one.
7. Southern Miss (2-1, 1-0, LW: #7)
Against Rice, Jack Abraham passed for 428 yards and four touchdowns. The defense held Rice under 300 yards and forced two turnovers. It was a very business-like outing for USM. But I do have one concern. Rushing for 138 yards on 31 carries as a team against this defense is not a good sign going forward.
8. Old Dominion (1-3, 0-2, LW: #13)
ODU makes the biggest jump in this week’s power rankings as the Monarchs pulled off the biggest upset of the season so far. With Blake LaRussa at QB, the offense looked like the explosive unit that was lighting up teams when Taylor Henicke was the QB. We’ll find out soon whether ODU is a one-hit wonder, as they play East Carolina this weekend. The Pirates are 1-3, but boast a win over the ACC as well, as they defeated North Carolina a few weeks ago.
9. Middle Tennessee (1-2, LW: #8)
MTSU was on a bye and will host FAU to begin conference play. The Owls look vulnerable. If MTSU is any good, they should be able to hang with FAU for four quarters.
10. UTSA (1-3, LW: #10)
The Roadrunners gained a much-needed win over rival Texas State. The offense looked much sharper against TXST and they will have a few opportunities to improve on that side of the ball before the schedule ramps up in difficulty, as they will host UTEP and go on the road to play Rice in the next two weeks.
11. WKU (1-3, LW: #12)
The tops played hot potato at QB once again, but this week it led to a win as Steven Duncan threw two touchdowns in the second half to spark a comeback over Ball State. The Tops didn’t finish with a RB to rush over 100 yards, but came darn close as freshman Joshua Samuel rushed for 93 yards and a touchdown. A home game against Marshall is up next.
12. Charlotte (2-2, 1-0, LW: #9)
How does a team that’s 1-0 in conference play end up near the bottom of the power rankings? I placed the 49ers here mainly due to getting blown out by UMass, the same team FIU easily handled. The win over ODU was perhaps more fluky than I wanted to acknowledge, as the Monarchs did miss an extra point and failed on a few two-point conversions.
13. Rice (1-3, 0-1, LW: #11)
Nothing against the Owls here but Charlotte does own a win in conference play and Rice doesn’t. Head-to-head I’d take the Owls for what it’s worth.
14. UTEP (0-4, LW: #14)
The Miners lost to a winless New Mexico State team 27-20, and is now staring down a second straight winless season.