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, C-USA is on mid-season coaching change alert. The team in question is UTSA. The Roadrunners have underachieved with Frank Wilson at the helm and in his fourth season the fan base is officially out on him turning things around. UTSA just had their most listless performance against North Texas last weekend.
On the flip side, UNT looks like the best team of the conference. Unfortunately for UNT, C-USA West is shaping up once again to be a royal rumble as four of the best five teams in the conference are in that division.
1. North Texas (2-2, 1-0, Last Week: #2)
The Mean Green took care of rival UTSA easily with a blowout win. The Roadrunners aren’t necessarily in a good place, so the result last weekend wasn’t shocking. But the performance confirmed to me that despite a .500 record, UNT should be considered the favorite to win C-USA. Next up is a reeling Houston team at home. These are the type of games that go a long way on the recruiting trail and resonate with alumni and fans. Just another game for Mason Fine to enhance his legacy with the Mean Green faithful.
2. Marshall (2-1, LW: #1)
Marshall was on a bye and will host Cincinnati this weekend.
3. Louisiana Tech (3-1, 1-0, LW: #5)
I could not have been the only person who was waiting for the other shoe to drop when Tech played FIU on Friday. These have been the games Holtz’s teams have inexplicably dropped. Despite FIU giving Tech all they can handle, the Bulldogs held firm in a shootout win. Justin Henderson’s emergence at RB bodes well going forward. The Bulldogs ran for a season high 275 yards and averaged 6.4 yards per carry. Another winnable conference game against Rice awaits.
4. UAB (3-0, LW: #3)
Blazers took care of business against South Alabama and finally got their rushing attack going as the team rushed for 201 yards and averaged 4.5 yards per carry. UAB will begin conference play on the road against WKU this weekend.
5. Southern Miss (2-2, LW: #4)
No shame in losing to Bama even if it was a blowout in which the USM passing game was thoroughly held in check. A get-right game against UTEP at home should cure anything that may be ailing the team.
6. Charlotte (2-2, LW: #6)
Same case as Southern Miss, no shame in losing to Clemson. The 49ers begin conference play with a huge home game against FAU. Beat the Owls and Charlotte will be taken seriously to win C-USA East.
7. FAU (2-2, LW: #8)
The Owls jump WKU simply for beating their FCS team, versus the Tops losing their game. Lane Kiffin wasn’t exactly impressed with the blowout win over Wagner. We’ll see if the message of needing to play better will resonate this Saturday as the Owls will have a chance to avenge last year’s heartbreaking loss to Charlotte.
8. WKU (1-2, 1-0, LW: #7)
Tops were on a bye and will host the Blazers. Still not sure where this team fits in C-USA.
9. Old Dominion (1-2, LW: #11)
ODU rises despite losing against Virginia over the weekend. The Monarchs have looked better against the P5 versus the other teams below them. Stone Smartt has had some solid showings against good competition. If he continues to be smart with the ball ODU could do some damage in conference play. In order to reach a bowl game, beating East Carolina this weekend is a must.
10. Middle Tennessee (1-2, LW: #10)
MTSU was on a bye and will play Iowa this weekend. Similar to rival WKU, just not sure where this team fits in C-USA.
11. FIU (1-3, 0-2, LW: #12)
The Panthers played perhaps their best game of the season so far but ended up with a loss to La Tech. Once again, run defense remains a huge concern. The bye week comes at a perfect time as FIU can regroup in the locker room and adjust their expectations for the season. For the next month they will be in Miami as their next three games are all at home (vs UMass, vs Charlotte, vs UTEP). Winning all three is a must if FIU wants to reach their third straight bowl game.
12. UTSA (1-3, 0-1, LW: #9)
If Frank Wilson gets fired from UTSA this season, the game against North Texas can be looked at as a turning point. The Roadrunners were noncompetitive in the worst way and looked like they quite. Two weeks to prepare for a road trip to El Paso must result in a win or Frank Wilson is gone.
13. Rice (0-4, LW: #13)
If the Owls had WKU’s schedule they would be 2-2 at worst. Alas, they don’t have WKU’s schedule. They have the toughest schedule in C-USA and put up another valiant effort before failing short to Baylor. As usual, the culprit was the offense. The Owls are averaging a meager 13.5 points per game. They will be a guaranteed tough out in C-USA, but the way the offense is performing they will likely fall short of any upset opportunities.
14. UTEP (1-2, LW: #14)
The Miners entered the fourth quarter trailing Nevada 24-21 but was outscored 13-0 in the final quarter. Even though it was a loss, the close game shows that if you squint hard you can see that progress is happening in El Paso.