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Conference USA Power Rankings: Week 1

After a week full of lackluster performances, the only movement comes near the top as we have a new number one team.

North Texas v Florida Atlantic

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, we only have one team who played a complete game against FBS competition. After going a ghastly 6-8 in Week 1 as a conference, it was relatively tough to move teams lower than their previous ranking. So there’s minimal movement this week.

1. North Texas (1-0, Last week: #2)

North Texas easily played the most complete game in C-USA to start the season as they thoroughly whipped SMU 46-23 at home. Mason Fine had a tremendous game, going 40-of-50 for 444 yards and three touchdowns. Rico Bussey Jr. had a tremendous night with 109 receiving yards and Jalen Guyton was his usual self, recording two touchdown catches. Perhaps the most interesting development of the game was UNT’s defense, as SMU didn’t score their first points until the fourth quarter.

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

On the opposite end of the spectrum, FAU received a beatdown at the hands of No. 7 Oklahoma. The Owls trailed 42-0 at the half and lost 63-14. New defensive coordinator Tony Peccaro has a lot of work ahead of him as the Owls put on perhaps the worst tackling display in the country last week. Aside from Devin Singletary, the offense looked horrible as once again FAU entered the season without a clear cut starter at quarterback. Some FAU fans are downplaying the severity of the loss due to the quality of the opponent but I’m not buying it. The Owls entered the season as the class of the conference and put on a performance more fitting for the clown of the conference. I wanted to move FAU lower but aside from North Texas, no one looked great so here is where the Owls fall to.

3. Marshall (1-0, LW: #3)

The Herd took care of business and beat Miami (OH) 35-28 on the road. After being in control for majority of the game, the Herd defense letup in the fourth quarter and allowed the RedHawks to make it a game down the stretch, before a fourth-down stop secured the victory. Redshirt freshman Isaiah Green received the start at QB and looked like he could at the least serve as a game-manager. Tyre Brady had a monster performance yet again, with nine catches for 116 yards and two touchdowns.

4. UAB (1-0, LW: #4)

The Blazers started slow to open the season but eventually cruised to a 52-0 win over Savannah State. The passing offense looked better, but it’s hard to put too much stock in a good performance over an FCS team.

5. Louisiana Tech (1-0, LW: #5)

The Bulldogs headed to Mobile to play South Alabama and took care of business with a 30-26 win. J’Mar Smith looked just as inconsistent as he was last season, as he had two touchdowns and three interceptions during the game. Tech’s pass defense and rushing offense was terrific. The defense prevented USA from throwing over 100 yards as Daryl Lewis and Amik Robertson each had an interception. Jaqwis Dancy eased any fears as to whether Tech will be able to run the ball, as Dancy had 144 yards and two touchdowns.

6. FIU (0-1, LW: #7)

At home against Indiana, FIU put up a valiant effort but was unable to get the defensive stop needed to turn the momentum around as they lost 38-28. The rushing attack looked great with Shawndarrius Phillips and Anthony Jones combining to rush for three touchdowns and 126 yards. Inconsistency at quarterback still persists as James Morgan and Christian Alexander failed to pass for over 100 yards. The pass defense is a major concern, as the Hoosiers moved the ball with ease through the air.

7. Southern Miss (1-0, LW: #9)

The Golden Eagles trounced Jackson State 55-7. Jack Abraham was good, Quez Watkins was great, and the defense was lights out. We’ll get a better idea of how good the defense is when Louisiana-Monroe comes to town.

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

Once again, Vanderbilt bullied the Blue Raiders on the line of scrimmage all night long as the ‘Dores cruised to a 35-7 victory. Vandy recorded six sacks and forced Brent Stockstill into two turnovers (one fumble, one interception). The MTSU defense was more than serviceable, but as we know, if MTSU is going to surprise teams in the conference, Stockstill and the offense must be better.

9. WKU (0-1, LW: #11)

I had the lowest of expectations for the Tops entering the season so I didn’t expect much against Wisconsin. I was impressed at the way they held up as they weren’t exactly a pushover. The offense still looks out of sorts which is a concern, particularly the rushing attack as no one rushed for over 50 yards.

10. UTSA (0-1, LW: #10)

A lot of teams in C-USA struggled offensively and the Roadrunners were one of them. UTSA gained just 221 yards in the 49-7 loss to Arizona State. Cordale Grundy received the stat at QB and looked overwhelmed at times. The offensive line looked overwhelmed throughout the game. Grundy and D.J. Gillins are mobile QBs and its clear why they are needed as the offensive line appears to be the weakest unit on offense.

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

Bobby WIlder was not a fan of the C-USA preseason media poll entering the season after ODU was projected to finish sixth but the media members might have got this right. ODU looked terrible on the road against Liberty, a program making its FBS debut. Steven Williams looked like the same QB he was last year as he had issues with accuracy. The offensive line generated no push for their running backs and surprisingly the defense registered zero sacks and allowed LU to gain 595 total yards. This week’s home game versus FIU is huge as a loss here could send the Monarch into tailspin.

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

A ho-hum 34-10 victory over Fordham isn’t going to move the needle for Brad Lambert. A home win over Appalachian State this weekend will though.

13. Rice (1-1, LW: #14)

The Owls put up a valiant effort against Houston and at one point led 27-17 halfway through the third quarter. The Coogs would go on to score the next 28 points to win the game and retain the Bayou Bucket. Despite the loss, there’s reasons for Rice fans to be optimistic about Mike Bloomgren. He’s already established a clear identity for the program and has the Owls in a much better state than they were a year ago.

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

UTEP lost to Northern Arizona 30-10 and could very well go 0-12 for the second straight season. Unlike the rest of the programs in C-USA, I can’t find one reason why Miner fans should be optimistic about the rest of the 2018 season.