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 have fully recovered from the flu but two weeks later I am no more knowledgeable about what may happen in this conference that the average P5 hack.
Just when you think La Tech has got over the hump, they open the backdoor for USM to swoop in. Not because of poor play, but poor leadership. Now Tech must dig deep in their final two games. On the bowl front, we have five teams all but a lock to reach the postseason with maybe two teams lucky enough to join them. North Texas, FIU, UTSA and Charlotte are still in the hunt, but I’d bet only two of these four reach six wins.
1. Marshall (7-3, 5-1, Last Week: #2)
Marshall took advantage of a depleted Louisiana Tech team and landed a convincing win. Was the win hollow? Maybe. It’s not like Tech had their best players on offense but a win is a win and with FAU still on their tail for first place, Marshall won’t be complaining. Expect a much tougher challenge this weekend when the Herd visits a Charlotte team looking to become bowl eligible for the first time in school history at home.
2. Louisiana Tech (8-2, 5-1, LW: #1)
In what was shaping up to be the best conference game of the season, Tech suspended J’Mar Smith and bunch of other starters in their road trip to Marshall. The result was a predictable loss. Skip Holtz still has the inside track to a division crown but the margin for error is slim as the suspension will carryover to a road game against UAB. A loss to the Blazers opens up the door for Southern Miss to sneak into the title game.
3. FAU (7-3, 5-1, LW: #4)
The Owls were off last week and will head to Texas to play UTSA. The Owls will likely need to win out if they are to catch Marshall for the C-USA East division crown.
4. Southern Miss (7-3, 5-1, LW: #5)
After an up and down start to the season, USM is peaking at the right time as they are currently on a three-game winning streak, fresh off of a 19-point road win over UTSA. Tech’s dysfunction has opened the door for USM to reach their first title game under Jay Hopson. Their winning ways should continue in their home finale vs WKU.
5. UAB (7-3, 4-3, LW: #3)
The Blazers have yet to lose at home since #theReturn and UTEP was certainly not going to be the one to snap their winning streak. With rival La Tech reeling and on the ropes, the Blazers will have a great chance to not only spoil Tech’s run at a division title, but make it three straight seasons without a home loss.
6. WKU (6-4, 4-2, LW: #6)
The Tops had a bye and will head to Southern Miss loose and confident. With bowl eligibility already secured, any more wins after this is gravy for Tyson Helton’s first season.
7. Charlotte (5-5, 3-3, LW: #8)
The 49ers will host one of the biggest games in their young history as bowl eligibility will be on the table when Marshall visits. They’ve had two weeks to prepare so I expect Will Healy to pull out all of the stops for a potential program-changing home win.
8. North Texas (4-6, 3-3, LW: #9)
The season hasn’t gone the way they have wanted but there’s still time for UNT to close strong. Two games left to reach bowl eligibility and the first one is a road game against Rice.
9. FIU (5-5, 3-4, LW: #7)
“Home” against Miami is coup for this football program but unfortunately the Panthers are not the team we thought they would be in August. Just like UNT, a chance to close the season strong is still on the table but it will take a monumental upset over the Canes and another upset on the road against Marshall to do so.
10. UTSA (4-6, 3-3, LW: #11)
Feels like it’s the end of the road for Frank Wilson doesn’t it? A home loss to USM in a sparely attended Alamodome is just about curtains for the Wilson era. A last ditch effort vs FAU is all that’s left for potentially saving his job.
11. Middle Tennessee (3-7, 2-4, LW: #11)
A loss to Rice to eliminate you from bowl contention is brutal. The fact that it was at home in front of a friends and family type of crowd makes it worse. This was always going to be a rebuilding year, but this is the darkest timeline for the MTSU football program.
12. Rice (1-9, 1-5, LW: #13)
Throughout the season I said that Rice wasn’t the worst football team in C-USA. Although they continued to lose games, you could tell that a win was coming. A 31-point explosion, on the road no less, is exactly the type of win Mike Bloomgren needed to confirm that progress is indeed happening down in Houston.
13. Old Dominion (1-9, 0-6, LW: #12)
The upcoming matchup against Middle Tennessee is a sad one.
14. UTEP (1-9, 0-7, LW: #14)
It’s looking more likely that UTEP will be the worst team in C-USA for the second straight season under Dana Dimel. A road win over rival NM State is desperately needed.