Week 6: Miner Rush's Conference USA Power Rankings

Another week is in the books and in my opinion there are still seven schools capable of winning the C-USA:  Tulsa, UTEP, Houston, and SMU in the West; and UCF, Southern Miss, and East Carolina in the East.  This week, we should start to see some separation as ECU takes on USM and Tulsa plays SMU.  Right now, it's anybody's ball game.  

#12:  The Memphis Tigers (1-4, 0-3 C-USA)

Stock Watch:  Down 2

Last Time: Lost to Tulsa 48-7

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back:  Just last week, Memphis came down to El Paso and fought long and hard before losing on a last second kick.  Then, the Tigers got obliterated at home by Tulsa.  Tulsa's defense is nothing to write a book about and Memphis only had 207 total yards of offense.  Amazingly, UCF hasn't played a C-USA game yet and the Tigers are already 0-3 in league play.  With Louisville, Southern Miss. Houston, and Tennessee coming up in the next month, Memphis is all but guaranteed of taking a 1-8 record to Marshall.  Their games against Marshall and UAB are their best shot to pick up a second win this season.

Next Up:  Saturday, at the Louisville Cardinals (2-2)

#11:  Marshall Thundering Herd (1-4, 0-1 C-USA)

Stock Watch:  Down 2

Last Time:  Lost to Southern Miss. 41-16

By a Hair:  The Herd avoid dropping to #12 for the first time this season by the narrowest of margins.  I give Marshall a bit more slack because they have played a far more difficult schedule than Memphis so far (Ohio State, West Virginia) and because Memphis was blown out by a similar score.   QB Brian Anderson frankly isn't very good.  He went 4/13 for 16 yards before being benched.  Why did Doc Holliday push Willy Korn to safety?  Marshall's defense is struggling as a unit but has two defenders that will play on Sundays:  DL Vinny Curry and LB Mario Harvey.  Curry is leading the nation with 8 sacks this season.

Next Up:  A much needed BYE before a Wednesday game against UCF next week.


#10:  The Rice Owls (1-4, 0-1 C-USA)

Stock Watch:  Up 1

Last Time:   Lost to SMU 42-31

Not a Move Up:   Rice gets a bump up to the 10 spot not based on their effort against SMU but really more because of how terrible Marshall and Memphis looked in their losses.  The Owls did finally gave some success on offense as Sam McGuffie nearly had his first 100 yard game as an Owl.  Rice more than anything needs consistency at quarterback but an injury to starter Taylor McHargue means Nick Fanuzzi will be getting the start.  Fanuzzi is completing 63% of his passes but has only 1 touchdown against 6 interceptions, including two INT's against SMU.

Next Up: Saturday at UTEP (4-1, 1-1 C-USA)


#9:  The UAB Blazers (1-3, 0-1 C-USA)

Stock Watch:  Down 1

Last Time:  Bye

Not-So-Hot Seat:  The last time we saw UAB, they took Tennessee to double overtime on the road.  The Blazers drop a spot after a bye because of Tulane's impressive win at Rutgers (more below).  UAB, with Bryan Ellis at the helm and David Isabelle as a wildcard, seem to have finally found what works for them on offense.  Two weeks ago, I thought Neil Callaway was out the door when UAB was trailing to Troy 23-0. The Blazers came back to win that one and then nearly beat Tennessee at Knoxville.  Wednesday night, we'll see if they can keep their momentum go ing when they play at UCF.

How close was UAB to beating Tennessee?  UT won on this play in double OT.

Next Up:  Wednesday at UCF (6:00 pm MST, ESPN, ESPN3.com)


#8:  Tulane Green Wave (2-2, 0-1 C-USA)

Are They.... Good?   Well, it took a nearly superhuman performance by their defense, and Dezman Moses in particular, but the Green Wave picked up a very impressive win for the C-USA when they beat Rutgers on the road. Tulsa lost to Ole Miss by 14 and played Houston, AC (After Case), well for three quarters.  Tulane now has what I consider to be a winnable game against Army before hitting the home stretch of their C-USA slate.  Some backstory:  Tulane QB Ryan Griffin was injured and WR/QB Joe Kemp came in and helped lead the Wave to the win.  Rutgers fan's aren't too happy about the Homecoming implosion.  Check out this video for proof of that.

Next Up:  Saturday at Army (3-2)

#7:  Tulsa Golden Hurricane (3-2, 1-1)

Stock Watch:  Same

Last Time:  Beat Memphis 48-7

Bounced Back:  Tulsa has done a remarkable job getting over their humbling loss to state rival Oklahoma State.  Tulsa has the league's most powerful offense but are still ranked 98th nationally in scoring defense.  I wanted to move Tulsa up after they squashed Memphis, but couldn't justify putting them ahead of an ECU team that beat them already.  Finally, we are hitting the meat of the C-USA slate and we should begin to see the cream rising to the top in the next several weeks.  Tulsa and SMU should be a really fun game to watch.

Next Up:  at SMU

#6: East Carolina Pirates  (2-2, 2-0 C-USA)

Stock Watch:  Down 2

Last Time:  Lost to North Carolina 42-17

Exposed?:  East Carolina has now lost two straight games (Virginia Tech, North Carolina).  I realize those teams are from BCS leagues, but UNC isn't nearly the powerhouse we thought it would be in the aftermath of the John Blake scandal.  East Carolina's defensive woes are a very serious problem.  The Pirates are giving up an average of 41.8 points per game which ranks 115th in the nation.  Again, like with Tulsa, we'll start to get a sense of where ECU stacks up this week when they play in what might be the C-USA Game of the Week against Southern Miss.

Next Up:  at Southern Miss 

 

#5:  UTEP Miners (4-1, 1-1 C-USA)

Stock Watch:  Up 1

Last Time:  Beat New Mexico 38-20

Let's Party Like it's 2005:  The Miners are off to their best start in 5 seasons and are showing some signs of dominance on defense.  UTEP is now ranked 60th in total defense which is remarkable considering they ended last season ranked 110th.  Trevor Vittatoe has been solid and is now ranked 27th in the nation in total offense.  The Miners schedule still sets up nicely with Rice coming to town before UAB, Tulane, and Marshall.  UTEP fans are pumped for a 4-1 start, deservedly so, but if the Miners haven't beat Rice since 2005.  The Owls simply find ways to make this game interesting year in and year out.  This one should be no different.

Next Up:  Home, vs. Rice

 

#4:  Houston Cougars (3-1, 2-0 C-USA)

Stock Watch:  Up 1

Last Time:  Bye

Can They  Really Do This?:  Before the season, most everybody expected Houston to beat Mississippi State this season.  But, can they do it with Terrance Broadway in at QB?  Broadway was good, not great, against Tulane but the Wave won't be able to run the ball with ease against the SEC's MSU.  This should be a low scoring, hard fought game, which is not exactly the Cougars cup of tea.  And, Houston will have to play without their leading receiver James Cleveland who has been suspended for a violation of team rules.  

Next Up:  Home, vs. Mississippi State

 

#3:  SMU Mustangs (3-2, 2-2 C-USA)

Stock Watch:  Same

Last Time:  Beat Rice 42-31

Right Time:  Kyle Padron played the best game of his season against Rice.  He hit on 24/32 passes for 371 yards and 3 touchdowns with no interceptions.  Aldrick Robinson and Cole Beasley have emerged as stars in June Jones offense and both had about 150 yards receiving on Saturday and at least 6 catches.  SMU's offense seems to be peaking at the right time.  I can't wait to see how the Ponies defense matches up with G.J.Kinne and Tulsa's offense.  Will the winning QB become the new favorite for C-USA Player of the Year?  

Next Up:   vs. Tulsa

 

#2:  The Central Florida Knights (2-2, 0-0 C-USA)

Stock Watch:  Down 1

Last Time:  Bye

They Didn't Do Anything:   UCF is trying everything and everything to make freshman Jeff Godrey more comfortable in the pocket.  This week, they are moving their OC down from the press box to the field so he can be closer to Godfrey.  My advice?  Let the kid run wild.  Look at how Michigan uses Denard Robinson.  Watch film of Vince Young during his sophomore season.  Because, Godfrey is good enough to lead UCF to a league title,  The last thing I would do is put Rob Calabrese back in the game and mess with his confidence.  Well, that's why I'm not the coach, because, UCF is going to playing two quarterbacks.

Next Up:  6:00 pm MST, Wednesday, vs. UAB (ESPN, ESPN3.com)

 

#1:  The Southern Miss. Golden Eagles (4-1, 1-0 C-USA)

Stock Watch:  Up 1

Last Time:  Beat Marshall 41-16

The New Kid on the Block:  For the first time this season, USM takes the top spot.  The change is a result of two things.  First, UCF's quarterback issues show me that the coaching staff is not as confident in Jeff Godfrey as we thought they'd be.  Second, Southern Miss is playing darn good football right now.  Since their week 1 loss at South Carolina, the Eagles have won four in a row, including a win against Kansas, and just blasted a Marshall team that has some talent on defense.  My biggest criticism of USM has been quarterback Austin Davis' inability to throw the deep ball.  Stud WR DeAndre Brown missed his second straight game due to injury and only has 12 receptions this season.  Three of USM's touchdowns came on short runs by Davis.  Will that work against their final three opponents UCF, Houston, or Tulsa?

Luckily, USM will have some time to figure things out in the passing game.  Like UTEP, the Eagles will benefit from a good schedule in October.  If the Eagles get past ECU this week, they have Memphis, UAB, and Tulane on the horizon.  That means USM will have a chance to be sitting at 8-1 when they take on UCF on November 1.

I realize many of you haven't seen USM play this season.  Check out their Marshall highlights below.

Next Up:  vs. East Carolina

Who's Your #1?  For the latest Miner news, Like Miner Rush on Facebook or Follow on Twitter.

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