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Three things we learned about Conference USA in Week 3

C-USA went .500 in week three of the 2019 season. Showing there’s still as many questions as there are answers heading into week four.

NCAA Football: Southern Mississippi at Marshall Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

If ignorance truly is bliss, three weeks of football in C-USA allows for fans of most teams inside the conference to be unequivocally overjoyed.

Because as we enter week four, there aren’t any clear favorites in either division.

In fact, over half of the programs in Conference USA could make a case as to why they will be division champs come December.

Let’s take a look at what we discovered during after the third weekend of play.

Quez Watkins makes Southern Miss a different team

I know there will be a portion of the Golden Eagle faithful who will read the heading above and say that their team should be considered legit contenders regardless.

However, Saturday’s 47-42 shootout win over Troy proved that the Southern Miss offense operates at an entirely different level with the dynamic redshirt junior in-tow.

NCAA Football: Texas-San Antonio at Southern Mississippi
Jay Hopson has to be overjoyed with the fact that his star receiver is back on the field.
Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Anyone who’s listened to our Underdog Dynasty Conference USA Pawdcast knows how much of a believer I am in the 6-2, 190-pound wideout.

He’s arguably the best receiving talent in the entire league.

In his return to the field, Watkins snagged eight passes for 209 yards and made two visits to the endzone.

He, along with sophomore Jaylond Adams may constitute the best duo of wide receivers in C-USA.

While it’s somewhat alarming that a talented Golden Eagle defense gave up over 500 yards passing (including four 100-yard receivers), I choose to focus on the fact that the offense had enough firepower to win the offensive slugfest.

After a tumultuous offseason, Chris Robison looks to have turned the corner

FAU Owls’ quarterback Chris Robison has had a roller-coaster of an offseason. Days before the start of spring camp, the 20-year-old redshirt sophomore was suspended from all team activities.

NCAA Football: Central Florida at Florida Atlantic
Chris Robison looks like the four-star HS prospect he was coming out of Mesquite, Texas in 2017.
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

While the reasoning for his suspension was never specified by Owls’ head coach Lane Kiffin, Robison was under investigation for an assault accusation. After not being charged, Robison was reinstated in June, and won the quarterback competition to start the season.

Following a seesaw first season as the starter in 2018, Robison looks to have found his footing in year two.

The Owls suffered decisive losses to two powerhouses in Ohio State and UCF, but Robison looked more mature in both games, only accounting for one turnover.

Playing against more equal competition Saturday at Ball State, Robison looked downright phenomenal.

He went 33-for-41 with 366 yards passing in FAU’s 41-31 much-needed win in Muncie.

Kiffin’s team faces an FCS opponent in Wagner before beginning conference play on the 28th against Charlotte at Jerry Richardson Stadium.

If Robison is able to continue his ascension as FAU’s signal-caller, the Owls will be a dark horse team to contend for the East division title.

Expect C-USA West to be up for grabs all season long

Like many others, I made the mistake of virtually locking in North Texas as the West division champs before the season started.

My reasoning was that this was the year that the Mean Green should put all of the pieces together and run their way through C-USA.

While they haven’t played a conference opponent, so the above scenario is still plausible, their losses to Cal and SMU showed that UNT could be more vulnerable than I expected.

NCAA Football: North Texas at California
The stingy Cal defense gave Mason Fine and the Mean Green fits throughout their 23-17 loss in Berkeley.
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

That, combined with La Tech, Southern Miss, and UAB all making cases through three weeks that they’ll be in hunt has me believing that the West will be a tight race till the end.

Bill Clark’s Blazers’ have a schedule that sets up for the team to have a realistic shot at a 7-0 start, plus the face a Tennessee team that’s suffering from a severe case of vertigo after another disappointing start to a season.

Louisiana Tech is another team, who, like UNT are looking to put all of the pieces together and make a run at a division crown. Quarterback J’mar Smith is completing 68% of his passes, well exceeding his marks of 57.4% mark over his first two seasons as the starter in Ruston.

Along with the aforementioned Watkins, if Southern Miss is able to sustain this level of offensive prowess, along with the defensive talent playing to its capabilities, they’re more than capable of taking down UNT when they welcome the Mean Green to Hattiesburg on October 12th.