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, I think we can cross off three teams from winning C-USA this year halfway through the season: UTEP, Rice, and Old Dominion.
The Miners and Owls are both 0-2 in conference play and have a steep hill to climb to get back in the race. ODU, although with just one loss in conference play, is out of contention for me after scoring a meager three points at home against WKU. It’s safe to say these three teams will be playing the roll of spoiler going forward.
On the bubble of falling out of contention is FIU, Charlotte, and Marshall. Placing FIU here is a bit controversial considering they are already 0-2 in conference play but one of their losses was to La Tech, a team in C-USA West. The Panthers still have a favorable schedule going forward and will play Charlotte at home in what is essentially an elimination game.
Marshall, after losing their second straight game in which they failed to score above 14 points, will play a home game against ODU. After Week 3 I thought Marshall was the best team in C-USA. Almost a month later and I can realistically see them missing a bowl game. The Herd was picked in the media poll to win C-USA. Missing a bowl game outright might be bad enough for Doc Holliday to be fired. There’s still time for a turnaround, but I’m not optimistic.
1. Louisiana Tech (4-1, 2-0, Last Week: #1)
The Bulldogs hold steady here after a bye week and will host UMass. Last week UMass lost to FIU 44-0. Tech should have no trouble here in their final tune up before they get into the most pivotal stretch of their season.
2. Southern Miss (3-2, 1-0, LW: #2)
USM was on a bye and will host preseason C-USA West favorite North Texas this Saturday. This matchup is easily the best game of the week in C-USA.
3. North Texas (2-3, 1-0, LW: #3)
The Mean Green were also on a bye and will play Southern Miss.
4. WKU (3-2, 3-0, LW: #6)
During conference play the Tops are allowing 10 points per game, while scoring exactly 20 points in each game. Tyson Helton made a great call in retaining defensive coordinator Clayton White. The seeds were there last season for a WKU defense that was solid but eventually worn down over the course of a game. This year Helton has made the right call in deciding to cater his offense to feed off the defense. The Tops step out of conference play to host Army this week.
5. FAU (3-2, 1-0, LW: #4)
Once again, we had another team who was on a bye last week. FAU will host Middle Tennessee. The winner will put themselves next to WKU as the teams to beat in C-USA East.
6. UAB (4-1, 1-1, LW: #7)
It took 2 lightning delays but the Blazers finally got the job done and extended their home winning streak to 15 with a win over Rice. I’m still concerned about the rushing attack and with Spencer Brown potentially missing time thanks to an injury, the offense could really suffer. A road trip to UTSA shapes up to be interesting.
7. Middle Tennessee (2-3, 1-0, LW: #11)
Remember how I said that MTSU looks pretty similar to rival WKU? The Blue Raiders won with a suffocating defense last week over Marshall as the defense forced four turnovers with Jovante Moffatt recording two INTs. The offense leaves a lot to be desired (just like WKU) but with as much talent and experience MTSU has on defense they should be in just about every conference game. A road trip to Boca awaits.
8. Charlotte (2-3, 0-1, LW: #8)
The 49ers were on a bye and will head to Miami to play FIU this weekend. Getting some healthy starters back on defense would be great as FIU seems to have figured out their problems on offense.
9. FIU (2-3, 0-2, LW: #10)
The Panthers beat UMass, the worst team in the FBS, last week. It was a convincing win. Congrats on the shutout. Let’s see how the defense performs against one of the best offenses in C-USA when Charlotte comes to The Cage.
10. Marshall (2-3, 0-1, LW: #5)
Against FBS opponents, Marshall is averaging 16.7 points per game. There is simply too much talent for their offense to be this inept. Ever since Rakeem Cato’s departure, Marshall’s offense has been decidedly average at best despite boasting really good talent. This year, the supposed difference-makers have yet to make a mark. With ODU’s defense on deck, I’m afraid we could see another poor performance on deck. A loss this weekend isn’t too far fetched.
11. UTSA (2-3, 1-1, LW: #13)
UTSA beat UTEP in El Paso thanks to their rushing attack. UTSA rushed for 320 yards on 48 rushing attempts. The star of the show was true freshman RB Sincere McCormick as he had 189 yards. We’ll see if the good vibes continue against UAB.
12. Old Dominion (1-4, 0-1, LW: #9)
The writing is kind of on the wall for ODU. The lack of recruiting seems to be catching up to Bobby Wilder as there’s just not too many playmakers on offense. Marshall is vulnerable, but I’m not sure ODU will generate enough points to threaten for the upset this Saturday.
13. Rice (0-6, 0-2, LW: #13)
Still winless. Still not the worst team in C-USA despite being the only winless team in the conference.
14. UTEP (1-4, 0-2, LW: #14)
The Miners got bullies on the line of scrimmage against UTSA. They couldn’t protect Kai Locksley and they couldn’t stop the run.