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, things are pretty messy in C-USA. The lack of marquee wins in non-conference play pretty much eliminates C-USA from contending for a New Year’s Six bid. Below is a great factoid from Zac Babb.
While there are still eight non-con games to be played across the league, it’s no secret Conference USA has struggled against their fellow FBS opponents so far:— Zac Babb (@ZacBabb) September 30, 2019
VS P5: 0-17
Big 12: 0-5
VS G5: 7-11
Not great. But don’t let the conference’s less than stellar play against non-conference teams takeaway from what should still be an exciting race for the conference crown because at the end of the day someone is hanging at banner and taking home a trophy. Who do I think that team will be a month into the season? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
The conference favorites entering the season are a combined 4-5 but does anyone think North Texas and Marshall should be near the bottom of the rankings? WKU is 2-0 in conference but those wins haven’t been pretty, not to mention the lost to an FCS team. FAU is on a three=game winning streak and looks capable of repeating their 2017 run through the conference. Creating this week’s power rankings have been the toughest one yet.
1. Louisiana Tech (4-1, 2-0, Last Week: #3)
The Bulldogs needed overtime to defeat the win-less Rice Owls on the road. I’m not really surprised that La Tech needed OT as they always have that one game every year in which they play down to their competition under Skip Holtz. Already with two conference wins under their belt, Tech is primed to be in the hunt for the C-USA West crown. They’re the No. 1 team this week because I don’t think they would have lost by 20+ points at home to Houston or Cincinnati.
2. Southern Miss (3-2, 1-0, LW: #5)
I believe it’s time to take USM very seriously as a threat to win C-USA. Not because of their no-nonsense win over UTEP, but because their offense has the most reliable playmakers in Jaylond Adams and Quez Watkins. Jack Abraham has really progressed as a QB and his play will determine how far Southern Miss goes. They will have two weeks to prepare for a pivotal home game against North Texas.
3. North Texas (2-3, 1-0, LW: #1)
I really didn’t want to do this to you UNT. I still think you’re likely to win C-USA West but you can not lose at home to a Houston team that was mired in dysfunction and started their backup QB. You just can’t. This team is completely dependent on if Mason Fine can carry them and on Saturday against Houston’s athletes he couldn’t. I don’t think UNT will play a more talented defense than the Coogs so UNT should bounce back in conference play. We’ll find out quickly as the Mean Green will have a bye before playing Southern Miss.
4. FAU (3-2, 1-0, LW: #7)
I think it might be time to get back on the Lane Train. FAU avenged last year’s loss to Charlotte with a convincing road win in their conference opener. The offense is playing with confidence and the defense is generating turnovers during this three-game winning streak. Under new DC Glenn Spencer the defense has forced a conference-best 9 turnovers.
5. Marshall (2-2, LW: #2)
With two weeks to prepare for Cincinnati the Herd completely laid an egg and lost 52-14. They entered the fourth quarter trailing 45-0. Cincy is solid, but they aren’t that good. I have no idea what to make of Marshall. One week their defense looks amazing, the next week the offense is firing on all cylinders, and the week after that both units don’t even leave the locker room. A road trip to Middle Tennessee to begin conference play awaits.
6. WKU (2-2, 2-0, LW: #8)
It hasn’t been pretty, but the Tops are getting it done behind a stingy defense. Against UAB, the Tops had four interceptions. With backup QB Ty Storey the offense still looked a bit clunky, but if they stay away from turnovers they could very well be in every conference game. After a bad start to the season, Tyson Helton is showing signs that this could be a fruitful first year in Bowling Green.
7. UAB (3-1, 0-1, LW: #4)
Tyler Johnston had the worst game of his career against WKU as his four interceptions were too much to overcome. Spencer Brown has not been the workhorse I was expecting this season, a sign that the offensive line with new starters hasn’t exactly replicated last year’s success. Seeing as how Rice took La Tech to the wire, the Blazers shouldn’t take this week’s matchup lightly. A loss this weekend would almost certainly eliminate them from repeating as conference champs.
8. Charlotte (2-3, 0-1, LW: #6)
The 49ers took it on the chin against a hungry FAU team. I still have faith in Will Healy but it might be time to pump the breaks on any talks of contending for the C-USA East division title this season. Charlotte is on a bye before a pivotal three game stretch (at FIU, at WKU, vs North Texas).
9. Old Dominion (1-3, LW: #9)
The Monarchs could have beaten East Carolina. They should have won. But too many errors prevented a win. With three straight losses ODU is looking at a must-win against WKU to have any shot at a bowl game.
10 FIU (1-3, 0-2, LW: #11)
FIU was on a bye and will host UMass this weekend. The Minutemen are one of the worst teams in the country. No pressure.
11. Middle Tennessee (1-3, LW: #10)
MTSU looked undisciplined on offense against Iowa as they only scored three points in a blowout loss. With three losses to P5 teams I’m still not sure where Middle fits in a wide open C-USA, but aside from their first half against Michigan, this has not looked like a good team.
12. Rice (0-5, 0-1, LW: #13)
The Owls had so many chances to close the door on La Tech’s comeback and just could not close the deal. The best quality about this team is their attitude. They play hard. Aston Walter and Charlie Booker had a huge day on the ground, rushing for a combined 182 yards with Walter scoring twice. The passing attack remains an issue though as Wiley Green and Tom Stewart are not a threat to beat you deep. I know that they’re win-less, but I don’t think they’re the worst team in C-USA.
13. UTSA (1-3, 0-1, LW: #12)
Roadrunners were on a bye and head to UTEP on Saturday. Must win for the Frank Wilson era to stay alive.
14. UTEP (1-3, 0-1, LW: #14)
The defense was just too slow to stop Southern Miss. A lack of a passing attack really hurt. Kai Locksley passed for 109 yards but ran for 114 yards. As long as he’s the QB, the book on stopping this Miners offense is very simple.