We May be Seeing a Changing of the Guard
The biggest storylines of the week were upset wins from two Texas teams over historical heavyweights in Conference USA. UTSA came out of a bye week looking like a completely different team as they pounded Southern Miss on the ground for a 55-32 victory. Just a few hours later, North Texas dominated Marshall for a 38-21 win in Denton. Marshall and Southern Miss are the two most prominent programs in Conference USA and they were up-ended by rebuilding Texas programs with young rosters in the same day. UNT and UTSA haven’t had any victories worth national attention in quite a while but both schools opened eyes yesterday.
It’s important to remember that UNT and UTSA were invited to C-USA not due to their strengths in 2012 but thanks to their five year and ten year potential. Both schools increased their investment in football by building improved facilities and making terrific head coach hires in Seth Littrell and Frank Wilson. We don’t want to jump the gun too much following just one key win for each program but the Mean Green and Roadrunners are beginning to realize their potential.
If this trajectory continues then C-USA may no longer run through the old guard of Marshall, Southern Miss, and Louisiana Tech if the Roadrunners and Mean Green can capitalize on their large student bodies, fertile recruiting grounds, and media markets. Hypothetically, we could look back on this weekend in two or three years as the week where the conference’s power dynamics began to shift.
Welcome to the Basement, Florida Atlantic
The Owls made it five-straight loses this weekend and they did so in embarrassing and heart breaking fashion. Following a 33-31 loss in the Shula Bowl against the head coach-less FIU, the Owls’ game against Charlotte was pushed back to Sunday due to Hurricane Matthew. Charlotte has been one of the worst teams in the entire FBS this season yet they still managed to defeat FAU 28-23 as sophomore quarterback Hasaan Klugh settled into a groove for the 49ers, passing for 223 yards while completing 82.4% of his attempts.
While this loss was enough to make an FAU fan feel ill, it seems as though the Owls were robbed of a shocking Hail Mary touchdown that would have won them the game at the end of regulation.
I’m still not sure if the receiver had his toe in bounds or not but ultimately any team should be ashamed if they need a Hail Mary attempt to defeat Charlotte. FAU still has to face Marshall, Western Kentucky, Old Dominion, and Middle Tennessee as head coach Charlie Partridge sits on extremely thin ice.
Old Dominion Was Highly Underrated this Preseason
So who predicted Old Dominion to be sitting at second place in C-USA East following two weeks of conference play? The Monarchs have bounced back from early season losses to North Carolina State and Appalachian State to spin up a three game winning streak. Old Dominion skips Middle Tennessee on the schedule this year so wins against Western Kentucky and Marshall would put the Monarchs in the driver’s seat for the C-USA East division championship.
David Washington has been efficient at quarterback, throwing 12 touchdowns to just two interceptions. Running backs Jeremy Cox and Ray Lawry are both averaging over 6 yards per carry while ODU’s defense has held their opponents to 19, 17, and 16 points over their last three games. Head coach Bobby Wilder continues to be one of the most underrated coaches in college football as ODU seems to be a good bet to reach eight or nine wins this season.