Week 5: Miner Rush's Conference USA Power Rankings

SMU played good against TCU on Friday until Andy Dalton took over in the second half. Where do the Mustangs check in this week? (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

There wasn't a lot of movement this week because the teams that lost all lost to quality opponents.  How would you rank the C-USA right now 1-12?

#12:  The Tulane Green Wave (1-2)

Stock Watch:  Same

Last Time:  Lost to Houston 42-23

Staying South and Headed East:  The big news in New Orleans this week is that starting quarterback Ryan Griffin was replaced by Kevin Moore.  Moore came in and helped Tulane make this one a good ballgame. I give Tulane credit for going down fighting and perhaps it was Moore who energized the Wave.  Houston jumped out to a 21-0 lead before Moore tossed two TD’s in a matter of minutes late in the second quarter.  The Wave were only down 23-28 in the fourth until Bryce Beall broke off a 25 yard TD late in the fourth to put it out of reach.  Tulane’s difficult schedule only gets harder this week.

Next Up:  Saturday vs. at Rutgers (ESPN3.com)

#11:  The Rice Owls (1-3)

Stock Watch:  Same

Last Time:  Lost to Baylor 30-13

The Tough Road:  The Owls have already played Texas, Northwestern, and Baylor.  We all thought Sam McGuffie would light a fire under the Rice offense, but so far he’s only rushed for one touchdown which came during garbage time against Baylor.  The Owls have the nations 118th ranked scoring offense.  Ranking the Owls and Green Wave is no easy task, but for now the Owls get the nod because their win against North Texas is stronger than Tulane’s against Southeast Louisiana.

Next Up:  Saturday vs.  SMU

 

#10:  Memphis Tigers (1-3)

Stock Watch:  Same

Last Time:  Lost to UTEP 16-13

Baby Steps:  Color me impressed, but I believe I underestimated Larry Porter’s bunch.  The Tigers have some studs in the backfield in Gregory Ray and Jerrell Rhodes and have found a solid quarterback in true freshman Ryan Williams.  The Tigers were able to slow UTEP’s then 18th ranked total offense nearly to a crawl.  Can they do the same at home against the C-USA’s strongest offensive attack at Tulsa?

Next Up:  Saturday vs. Tulsa

 

#9:  The Marshall Thundering Herd (1-3)

Stock Watch:  Down 1

Last Time:  Beat Ohio 24-23

Not Impressive:  I realize I’m doing something I hate and dropping a squad that just won a game.  But, I can’t take a 24-23 win against a struggling Ohio squad (1-3, only win against Wofford) over UAB’s impressive performance in front of 100k at Tennessee.  The Blazers earned a bump, and Marshall doesn’t look  like the same squad that nearly beat WVU even if they did win the Ohio game with a defensive stop (the Herd won the game by stopping a 2 point conversion with no time left).  Think of it this way, 1-3 Ohio needed three yards to beat Marshall on the games final play.  So, UAB gets the bump.

Next Up:  Saturday at. Southern Miss

 

#8:  The UAB Blazers (1-3)

Stock Watch:  Up 1

Last Time:  Lost to Tennessee 32-29, 2OT

O, So Close!:  I realize this isn’t Peyton Manning’s Tennessee.  I realize it wasn’t even Casey Clausen’s Tennessee.  But, when C-USA squads consider SMU’s win against Washington State a "good win" because of the leagues collective struggles against The Big 6, I think it’s permissible to give some credit to the Blazers for being so close to a signature win.  Did Neil Callaway finally get UAB to kick it into gear? The last two weeks, the Blazers beat a solid Troy squad in an electrifying game and nearly knocked off Tennessee on the road. 

Next Up:  Bye (Have an upcoming Wednesday. 10/6 game against UCF on ESPN)

 

#7:  The Tulsa Golden Hurricane (2-2)

Stock Watch:  Same

Last Time:  Beat Central Arkansas 41-14

The Mystery Squad:  Tulsa looked stellar against FCS Central Arkansas. With Houston focusing on establishing the run in the post-Keenum era, Tulsa has taken over as the C-USA’s most productive offense.  Behind G.J. Kinne , Damaris Johnson, and RB Alex Singleton, TU is ranked 9th in the nation in passing yards and 26th in rushing yards.  It will be fascinating to see what effect, if any, their 2 point loss to ECU in week one might have on the C-USA West Race. 

Next Up:  Saturday at Memphis

 

#6:  The UTEP Miners  (3-1, 1-1)

Stock Watch:  Same

Last Time:  Beat Memphis 16-13

Getting Defensive:  At most schools, when the defense is ranked 82nd nationally, it’s cause for concern.  At UTEP, it’s cause for a parade.  Hopefully, the offensive struggles we saw last week were merely a hiccup in what’s been a very productive season.  UTEP return man Marlon McClure and kicker Dakota Warren have established themselves as First Team All Conference Candidates. 

Next Up:  Saturday at New Mexico (The Mtn)

 

#5:  The Houston Cougars (3-1)

Stock Watch:  Same

Last Time:  Beat Tulane 43-23

The Bryce Beall First off, a bye week couldn’t come at a better time for the Houston Cougars.  Terrance Broadway looked decent in his first start, but Bryce Beall helped take a load off.  Broadway already has 418 yards this season on 62 carries (a ridiculous 6.7 ypc).  Remember when Beall was an afterthought after Charles Sims emerged  last season?  Now, you’re probably asking; who’s Charles Sims?

Next Up:  Bye (Mississippi State on October 9)

 

#4:  The East Carolina Pirates (2-1)

Stock Watch:  Same

Last Time:  Bye

A Signature?  ECU hung tough with Virginia Tech through three quarters.  After a bye week, can the Pirates knock off a North Carolina squad that just squeaked by Rutgers?  With Case Keenum out of the picture, is ECU quarterback Dominique Davis the new leader for C-USA Player of the Year?  He’s completing 65.9% of his passes, has a 142.21 rating, and has been effective on the ground too.

Next Up:  Saturday vs. North Carolina (ESPN3.com)

 

#3:  SMU Mustangs (2-2)

Stock Watch:  Down 1

Last Time:  Lost to TCU 41-24

No Skillet:  SMU played #4 TCU tough in a rivalry game before TCU ran away with it in the second half.  Over the last few weeks, I’ve noticed that QB Kyle Padron hasn’t been as consistent as he was as a freshman.  After playing a great TCU defense, his completion percentage is down to a very un-June Jones-like 51.4%.  After a date with Rice, SMU faces their first C-USA test against Tulsa in what should be a very fun game to watch.  Southern Miss bumps SMU because USM has a better signature win (Kansas).

Next Up:  Saturday at Rice

 

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

Stock Watch:  Up 1

Last Time:  Beat Louisiana Tech 13-12

Hard to Read:   After USM’s huge win against Kansas, and after UCF and SMU lost this week, I knew a big win at Louisiana Tech would elevate the Eagles to the #1 spot this week.  Louisiana Tech isn’t a pushover, but USM was barely able to hold them off (13-12).  One thing that concerns me about USM as we near closer to C-USA mayhem is that Austin Davis, while consistent, still isn’t throwing the ball downfield a lot (6 yards per attempt).  Also, stud WR DeAndre Brown didn’t play last week so his status is in question this week.  Do the Eagles have a vertical passing game that can get them past some good East division defenses? 

Next Up:  Saturday vs. Marshall

 

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

Stock Watch:  Same

Last Time:  Lost to K-State 17-13

A Pardon:  I think its becoming more and more obvious that UCF’s defense is leaps and bounds ahead of the rest of the C-USA and its that reason why I leave the Knights at #1 this week despite a tough loss, in a very close game, at Kansas State.  For those who missed it, K-State running back Carson Coffman ran in a 6 yard touchdown with 24 seconds to seal the win.  Jeff Godfrey was excellent on the run, 17 carries for 99 yards, but is still learning the ropes in the passing game.  UCF gets a break this week because they played well, against a ranked team on the road, but I’m guessing Godfrey’s struggles in the air will cost them a C-USA game or two.

Next Up:  Bye (Have a Wednesday, Oct. 6 game against UAB on ESPN)

 

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