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Conference USA Power Rankings: Week 1

Not a great start to the season for the conference.

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 looks like it will rank near the bottom of the FBS once again.

The conference went 8-6 to start the season and suffered an embarrassing loss to an FCS team, and had one of their title contenders get blown out in what was pegged to be a competitive game. The bottom of the conference still looks hapless and the top of the conference still isn’t that strong.

1. North Texas (1-0, Last Week: #1)

Mason Fine started his Heisman campaign with a ho-hum 383 yards and four touchdowns against Abilene Christian as the Mean Green won in convincing fashion. There’s not a lot to takeaway here other than UNT will have a potent offense once again. The competition ramps up next week as they head to Dallas to take on rival SMU.

2. Marshall (1-0, LW: #2)

Just like UNT, the Herd took care of business against an inferior opponent as Isaiah Green threw for a career-high four touchdowns in a route over Virginia Military Institute. We’ll find out much more about Marshall next week as they will travel to Boise State. The game against the Broncos is one of the biggest statements C-USA will have this season for a case to be involved in the New Year’s Six.

3. Southern Miss (1-0, LW: #4)

The Golden Eagles were never truly threatened in their opener against Alcorn State but they didn’t impress on offense either. We highlight the offense because the defense took care of business as usual. USM only had 13 points at the half under their new offensive coordinator Buster Faulkner. A win is a win, but USM didn’t provide any clarity that their offense will improve under Faulkner.

4. UAB (1-0, LW: #7)

The Blazers join USM as a team who didn’t look all that impressive against an FCS team. The only difference is that UAB actually almost lost, as they defeated Alabama State 24-19. Tyler Johnston III looked erratic at times as a passer and the offense didn’t truly look like they wanted to rely on Spencer Brown. Perhaps the Blazers were sandbagging. A road trip to face a bad Akron team provides a nice get-right opportunity.

5. Louisiana Tech (0-1, LW: #5)

Texas simply out-talented the Bulldogs. Nothing to be ashamed of for La Tech. Inconsistency still looks to be a concern as Tech had three turnovers and failed to finish drives. With that said, I didn’t see any significant flaws that would warrant a drop in the rankings for the Bulldogs.

6. FIU (0-1, LW: #3)

There’s a feeling among FIU fans that once the Panthers start to generate any sort of positive press, they crap the bed. Last Thursday FIU confirmed that paranoia amongst the fan base as Butch Davis was out-coached in a blowout loss to Tulane. Losing to the Green Wave wasn’t a complete shock, but the manner in which they did so was. FIU was thoroughly dominated in the trenches on both sides of the ball. FIU allowed 500 or more yards yards twice last season (FAU, 596 and Charlotte, 534) and the Green Wave had over 500 yards mid-way through the fourth quarter. FIU has no time to sulk, as they start conference play against WKU.

7. FAU (0-1, LW: #6)

The Owls looked outclassed in every way to start the season as they trailed 28-0 against Ohio State after the first quarter. To many FAU fans, it looked like a repeat of the start to last year’s season opener against Oklahoma. The Owls didn’t wilt though. The defense performed admirable in Glenn Spencer’s debut as the defensive coordinator, shutting out the Buckeyes in the 2nd quarter and allowing just 45 points. Offense was still an issue but found some momentum at the end of the game. We’ll see if any of those good signs carryover to next week as the Owls host UCF.

8. Charlotte (1-0, LW: #9)

Chris Reynolds should be QB1 going forward as Charlotte scored 49 points in Will Healy’s debut as the head coach. The opponent was only Gardner Webb, but considering how the rest of C-USA fared against FCS schools, the 49ers at least looked the part of being a solid team. A road trip to Boone, North Carolina, to play App State awaits as Healy will have an oppotunity to land a signature win.

9. UTSA (1-0, LW: #10)

Frank Harris dazzled in his debut, throwing for 206 yards and three touchdowns as UTSA defeated crosstown rival Incarnate Word. Again, an FCS opponent, but the Roadrunners sure looked improved on offense. Baylor will be step up in competition next week though.

10. Middle Tennessee (0-1, LW: #10)

The Blue Raiders battled but eventually just got worn down by Michigan. The defense at least played as advertised though. Considering how the offense still looked to be finding its rhythm with Austin O’Hara, the defense will need to win some games in the early going.

11. Old Dominion (1-0, LW: #12)

ODU opened their brand new stadium with a narrow win over Norfolk State. Not a great sign, but a win is a win. The offense started hot but faded as the game progressed.They’ll need better play from QB Stone Smartt with Virginia Tech looking for revenge this Saturday.

12. Rice (0-1, LW: #13)

The Owls defended Army’s explosive option attack about as well as you could in their 14-7 loss to the Black Knights. The defense was flying around making plays. Unfortunately the offense is still a big work in progress. Mike Bloomgren proved that the Owls will be tough out this season regardless of QB play, but without good QB play, expect the Owls to stay near the bottom of this year’s power rankings.

13. UTEP (1-0, LW: #14)

The Miners needed a Gavin Baechle 35-yard field goal midway through the fourth quarter to take the lead, and eventually hang on to beat Houston Baptist. Houston Baptist was one of the worst FCS teams last season.

14. WKU (0-1, LW: #11)

The Tops take the bottom spot of the week as they lost to an FCS team for a second straight season. WKU was in great shape to start the game as they raced to a 14 point lead but eventually fell apart. Central Arkansas outscored WKU 21-0 in the fourth quarter. The honeymoon is officially over for head coach Tyson Helton.

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