Week 4: Miner Rush's Conference USA Power Rankings

Who's the best team in the C-USA right now?  The obvious choice may seem to be Central Florida, but the Knights have several teams on their heels.  The loss of Case Keenum, and Cotton Turner, in Houston has left a virtual free for all in the C-USA pecking order.  

UCF is probably the consensus choice to replace Houston at the top spot but their offense has been somewhat pedestrian thus far in the season.  Their defense plays lights out, but Jeff Godfrey might need a bit more time than we all thought to really become comfortable as UCF's signal caller.

SMU's only loss was in a close game to Texas Tech.  Southern Miss only lost to a South Carolina squad that has looked phenomenal in the early going.  East Carolina's only loss was to Virginia Tech in a came the Pirates led late in the 3rd quarter.  I guess what I'm saying is that we don't know who the best team in the C-USA is anymore. Who's your #1?

#12:  The Tulane Green Wave   (1-1)

Last Time:  Bye Week

Stock Watch:  Down 1

A Golden Opportunity?  It might not be fair to move Tulane back down to #12 after a bye week, but Memphis and Rice both have wins against FBS schools now which is more than the Wave can say.  Can Bob Toledo’s bunch catch Houston off guard while they’re adjusting to life without their best player and team leader Case Keenum?   I wouldn’t bet on it but that game just got a lot more interesting.
Next Up:  Saturday at Houston (CBS College Sports)


#11:  The Rice Owls  (1-2)

Last Time:  Lost to Northwestern 30-13

Stock Watch:  Down 2

Same Old Story?  I think all of the C-USA thought Sam McGuffie would breathe new life into Rice’s offense.  McGuffie has shown flashes in the passing game but has a meastly 34 carries for 95 rushing yards on the season (2.8 ypc).  Rice has the nations 106th best rushing attack and the 99th worst scoring defense (31.7 ppg).  And, the Owls have another BCS foe coming to town Saturday.  Expect Robert Griffin to run wild on the Owls. 
Next Up:  Saturday vs. Baylor (CBS College Sports)

 

#10:  The Memphis Tigers (1-2)

Last Time:  Beat Middle Tennessee State 24-17

Stock Watch:  Up 2

Proved Me Wrong:  I really thought the Tigers would have lost to an MTSU team that had beaten them each of the last two seasons.  The Tigers offense is moving the ball with Ryan Williams (503 yards, 61.4% completion, 4/2 TD/INT ratio) behind center.  Their problem still lies on defense as the Tigers have the nations 111th ranked scoring defense (38.3 ppg).  How will they hold up against UTEP's 18th ranked total offense?
Next Up:  at UTEP

 

#9:  The UAB Blazers (1-2)

Last Time:  Beat Troy 32-33

Stock Watch:  Up 1

Don’t Call it a Comeback:  Bryan Ellis came in and supercharged UAB’s offense against Troy including an incredible 99 yard drive in the games final 1:09 that ended with a 44 yard Hail Mary pass to Jackie Williams that gave UAB their first win of the season.  Ellis was named the C-USA Offensive Player of the Week for his performance.  Is the David Isabelle era over at UAB?  It looks like a full blown QB controversy to me.
Next Up:  At Tennessee (ESPN3.com)

 

Speaking of controversy, Troy fans seem to think Jackie Williams caught the ball short of the goal line (the pictures are very close).  Here's a video of that final drive- 99 yards in a minute!  Judge for yourself whether it was a TD.


 

 

#8:  The Marshall Thundering Herd (0-3)

Stock Watch:  Down 2

Last Time:  Lost to Bowling Green 44-28

Two-Face:  Last week, we were all blown away by Marshalls defensive front 7 and I felt I had underrated them after they came one terrible fumble away from beating a ranked West Virginia squad on national television.  Then, Doc Holliday’s bunch got flat out crushed by a Bowling Green team Tulsa handled just last week.  Derek Anderson was simply atrocious (20/44 for 191 with 1 TD against 4 interceptions.  Marshall has to get the win this week because Southern Miss, UCF, and East Carolina fill the schedule after that.  Is an 0-7 start possible?   I think 1-6 is likely.

Next Up:  Saturday vs. Ohio

 

#7:  The Tulsa Golden Hurricane (1-2)

Stock Watch:  Down 3

Last Time:  Lost to Oklahoma State 65-28

Ahhh, the 3-3-5:   Tulsa was absolutely destroyed by Dana Holgorsen’s offense at Houston and now again at Oklahoma State.  Tulsa has the nations 7th best passing offense and 37th best rushing offense but the Hurricane quite simply can’t stop anybody.  The numbers don’t lie.  Tulsa has given up an average of 45.3 points per game which is good for 117th out of 120 FBS schools. 

Next Up:  Saturday vs. Central Arkansas

 

#6:  The UTEP Miners (2-1)

Stock Watch: Up 2

Last Time:  Beat New Mexico State 42-10

Easy Road:  UTEP has the nation’s 41st best scoring offense (32.3 ppg) and 76th best scoring defense (24.7 ppg).  The Miners have the 18th ranked total offense and Trevor Vittatoe is ranked 12th in the NCAA in total offense.  The Miners offense is hitting its stride.   The schedule (Memphis, New Mexico, Rice, UAB, Tulane, sets up nicely for UTEP to get back into the West race.  Can Mike Price win the ones he’s supposed to?  Don’t forget that in UTEP’s tenure in the C-USA, the Miners have never beaten Memphis.

Next Up:  Saturday vs. Memphis

 

#5:  The Houston Cougars (2-1)

Stock Watch:  Down 4

Last Time:  Lost to UCLA 31-13

Is Broadway Ready for the Big Time?  Where would you rank Houston?  The truth is we have no idea what UH will look like with Terrance Broadway at quarterback.  The only luck UH has had is the saving grace in their schedule that gives them Tulane at home this week and then a bye next week before they take on Mississippi State.  I’d bet October 23 can’t get here soon enough for June Jones and SMU.  Houston stays ahead of UTEP behind the head to head victory but like I said we have no idea what to make of a Keenum-less Houston.  They could fly back to #2-3 or drop below UTEP and Tulsa by next week.  

Next Up:  Saturday vs. Tulane

 

 

#4:  The East Carolina Pirates (2-1)

Stock Watch:  Down 2

Last Time:  Lost to Virginia Tech 49-27

Don’t Judge a Book By Its Cover:  Don’t look at that 49-27 score and assume ECU was blown out by Virginia Tech.  The Pirates led for much of the game and went into the 4th quarter down just 34-27.  Some costly interceptions really cost the Pirates but Dominique Davis is still off to a solid start.  ECU has the nation’s 13th best scoring offense (42.3 ppg) but the 115th worst scoring defense (41.7 ppg).   Statistically, they are as close to Tulsa as humanly possible.  The difference between the squads, to me, is that I think Ruffin McNeill can get their defense to  improve over time.

Next Up:  Saturday at North Carolina

 

Speaking of ECU, they might have the coolest intro of any C-USA school  Check out the "Purple Haze/50,000 Pirate Strong Intro from the Tulsa Game.  Very cool.


 

#3:  The Southern Miss Golden Eagles (2-1)

Stock Watch:  Up 2

Last Time:  Beat Kansas 31-16

The Austin Davis Show:  Davis did everything right in USM’s Friday night stunner over the Jayhawks.  He was efficient in the air (19/24, 155 yards, no TD’s or INT’s) and he rushed for 61 yards and a touchdown.  What a game for RB Desmond Johnson (8 carries for 89 yards, TD).  If Davis starts tossing the ball downfield to DeAndre Brown (only 3 grabs for 34 yards) then the USM offense will be hard to stop.  USM jumps ECU because they have been much more consistent on defense and because beating KU is more impressive than ECU’s best win (home vs. Tulsa).

Next Up:  Saturday vs. Louisiana Tech (ESPN3.com)

 

 

#2:  The SMU Mustangs (2-1)

Stock Watch:  Up 1

Last Time:  Beat Washington State 35-21

Major Test:  SMU moves up because, even though it was WSU, I can’t drop any C-USA school for beating a Pac 10 school by two touchdowns.  Things get a little harder this week though when the Mustangs host #4 TCU at home.  SMU’s Kyle Padron’s completion percentage is still surprisingly low (now 55.2%) but the kid’s throwing touchdowns like crazy so it’s hard to nit-pick.  He will have to play the game of his life if SMU is going to keep it close against their old SWC and cross-metroplex rivals. 

Next Up:  Friday, vs #4 TCU

 

#1:  The Central Florida Knights (2-1)

Stock Watch:  Up 1

Last Time:  Beat Buffalo 24-10

A Second Chance:  UCF narrowly lost their first chance to knock off an AQ squad (28-21 loss to a very good N.C. State team), and now the new #1 in the C-USA Power Rankings faces an even stiffer test when they travel to Manhattan to take on Bill Snyder’s Wildcats.  Jeff Godfrey made his first start at QB and was a very average 15/24 for 130 yards with no TD’s or INT’s.  Honestly, UCF’s offense just hasn’t been impressive at all this season.   For that reason, I think USM and ECU could both knock them off in the East.  UCF gets the #1 ranking because they have the nations 19th ranked scoring defense (15 ppg).  Can the D hold on long enough for Godfrey to get the Knights offense moving? 

Next Up:  Saturday at Kansas State

 

 

 

 

 

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