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Three Things We Learned From Week 10 Conference USA Football

Marshal! Marshall! Marshall!

Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Marshall and Western Kentucky is the class of the conference

Entering this week S&P gave Marshall a 66 percent chance at winning this week's game against Middle Tennessee and a 86 percent chance at winning the next week's game against FIU before their showdown with Western Kentucky.

Silly math projections and their inability to account for the eye test.

Marshall lost on the road to Middle Tennessee State 27-24 in triple overtime in a game the Blue Raiders should have won in regulation if not for their own mishaps.

The Thundering Herd had seven points entering the fourth quarter, missed five field goals and still had a shot at escaping Murfreesboro with a win, only to see MTSU solve their own special teams issues as Cody Clark nailed a 46-yard field goal to end the game.

Marshall's performance during non- conference play showed us that the Herd won't be as strong as they have been in the past but had yet to be exploited in conference play due to how talented they were in a weak C-USA East.

The Herd are still among the three best teams in the conference and will still have a shot at winning the C-USA East, but the comparisons between them and Western Kentucky as equals must stop.

Western Kentucky's two blemishes have been against two Power 5 schools in Indiana and LSU. Marshall's two losses are against a sub-par 5-4 Ohio squad and a 4-5 MTSU team.

With Marshall's loss, the conference's marquee game between them and WKU has now lost a lot of luster.

After WKU defeated FAU 35-19, the Hilltoppers are the only unbeaten team in conference play and should now be heavily favored when they host Marshall to decide who wins C-USA East.

Rice is Conference USA's most disappointing team

Entering the season Rice was believed to be one of the best teams in the conference. Senior quarterback Driphus Jackson was back to lead the team after coming off an 8-5 season that was capped with a 30-6 win over Fresno State in the Hawaii Bowl.

After the Hawaii Bowl, David Baliff was confident Rice would be in the hunt to win C-USA West for the second time in three seasons.

The only threat that stood in their way from taking the C-USA West crown was a Louisiana Tech team that would have to break in Jeff Driskel at quarterback. All three of their toughest games (WKU, LT, Southern Miss) were at home.

They have been run out of their own stadium in games against WKU and Louisiana Tech and it would come to no one's surprise if Southern Miss completed the sweep.

Friday night the Owls lost to UTEP 24-21 on a game winning field goal. A team they crushed last year 31-13.

Rice is 4-5 overall and 2-3 in conference play. Driphus Jackson has not looked like the confident player from last year and the defense has had trouble all season getting off the field.

The Owls have three games left with two against probably the worst teams in FBS so a fourth straight bowl bid is still on the table, but a 6-6 record from David Baliff was certainly not what we were expecting from the Rice Owls this season.

Bowl hopes alive And well

Speaking of bowl bids, as many as five teams are mathematically alive to go bowling.

I say mathematically because FIU is 5-5 but must travel to Marshall next week - a day that will not only celebrate senior day but will also pay tribute to the 1970 plane crash - and host Western Kentucky.

So realistically four teams have a shot in the quest for six. UTEP, Middle Tennessee, Rice, and Old Dominion. All have a 4-5 record and all have a good shot at reaching their sixth win.

Middle Tennessee has the easiest remaining schedule with games at FAU, home against North Texas, and at UTSA to close the season.

UTEP has the toughest schedule with a home game against Louisiana Tech sandwiched in between road trips to Old Dominion and North Texas.

Next week Old Dominion will host UTEP in a de-facto elimination game barring major upsets by either team to close the season.