Conference USA Power Rankings; Bowling Edition 3

Week 12 brought plenty more action around Conference USA as Southern Miss kissed their BCS chances goodbye, Houston stayed perfect, Tulsa made another statement, and Marshall, ECU, and UTEP were all left still looking for that elusive 6th win. Bowl season is almost here, and its time to see where the teams in C-USA line up in conference, and in the bowl picture. Here are the power rankings for week 13.

1. #8 Houston Cougars (11-0, 7-0) Last Week: (W) vs. SMU, This Week: @ Tulsa

The Cougars were a little slower than usual on Saturday, but in the end it was another easy victory. The final margin, 37-7. Houston now gears up to face Tulsa this week in a game that will determine the Conference USA West champion. Houston controls its own destiny for a BCS berth. Win out, and you will definitely find yourself playing in your first ever BCS bowl. But, lose to either Tulsa or Southern Miss in the championship game, and this season will quickly turn into a disappointment.

2. Tulsa Golden Hurricane (8-3, 7-0) Last Week: (W) @ UTEP, This Week: vs. #8 Houston

The Golden Hurricane continued to impress on Saturday, knocking off UTEP by a final score of 57-28. They were only up 21-15 will just over 2 minutes remaining in the first half, but a kickoff return TD put them up 14, and they never looked back. Up next is a matchup with the #8 Houston Cougars. The Cougars are undefeated on the season, and looking for a BCS bowl bid, but their stiffest competition of the year will certainly be this Tulsa team. If Tulsa wins against Houston, and then Southern Miss, they'll play in the Liberty Bowl. If they lose either, the Ticketcity Bowl seems like the best fit for a team of Tulsa's caliber, but a BYU-Tulsa mathcup in the Armed Forces Bowl may be attractive also.

3. Southern Miss Golden Eagles (9-2, 5-2) Last Week: (L) @ UAB, This Week: vs. Memphis

The Golden Eagles just haven't been able to avoid the letdowns this season. Those letdowns, against Marshall and now UAB, have cost this team an opportunity to play in a BCS bowl. They now move on to face Memphis in a game that they SHOULD win, but then again you never know. USM, even with their letdowns is in a pretty good spot bowlwise. If they go on to win the conference, they will play in the Liberty Bowl. If they lose to Houston in the C-USA championship they'll likely still play in the Liberty Bowl, and if they were to lose in the C-USA championship to Tulsa they'd probably get bumped to the Beef 'O' Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl.

4. SMU Mustangs (6-5, 4-3) Last Week: (L) @ Houston, This Week: vs. Rice

The Mustangs lost over the weekend against Houston, and couldn't put up any points against that mediocre defense until the 4th quarter. They are nowhere near the top three teams in this conference, but again there's really no one else to put here. SMU will now take on Rice this week, and even though they're already bowl eligible, their destination could rely on the outcome of this game. A 7-5 team will likely play in the Dallas area in the Ticket City or Armed Forces Bowl, while a team that's 6-6 and lost 5 of 6 to end the season may get bumped to Hawaii.

5. UTEP Miners (5-6, 2-5) Last Week: (L) vs. Tulsa, This Week: @ UCF

The Miners never had a chance against Tulsa, and that in itself should be enough to bump them out of 5th. But, Marshall needed to overcome a double digit deficit against Memphis in the 4th, and ECU just lost in El Paso. Anyway, the Miners now have a trip to UCF left on the slate, and the Knights are the only thing standing between UTEP and bowl eligibility. If UTEP does knock off UCF, they would likely find themselves in Hawaii.

6. ECU Pirates (5-6, 4-3) Last Week: (W) vs. UCF, This Week: @ Marshall

The Pirates knocked off UCF on Saturday in a game that was going to be the end of the line for someone. They now turn around and head to Huntington, WV for another game that will prove to be the end of the line for someone. Can the Pirates survive twice? If they do, they should find themselves in the St. Petersburg Bowl. With USM hypothetically occupying the Liberty Bowl, St. Petersburg is almost a sure bet for the winner of the ECU/Marshall game.

7. Marshall Thundering Herd (5-6, 4-3) Last Week: (W) @ Memphis, This Week: vs. ECU

The Herd came up with a much needed win over Memphis on Saturday, but they also needed to overcome a double digit 4th quarter deficit to do so. They now face ECU this week, and its do or die time for both. If Marshall can come up with the win, they would be in the same situation as ECU would be, expecting an invite from the St. Petersburg bowl.

8. UAB Blazers (3-8, 3-5) Last Week: (W) vs. Southern Miss, This Week: @ Florida Atlantic

The Blazers probably should stay in the no. 10 spot that they earned, but a win over the #20 team in the nation deserves a jump in the power rankings. No matter what, this season was an extreme disappointment for UAB fans. They'll end the season at Florida Atlantic so a 4th win is likely.

9. UCF Knights (4-7, 2-5) Last Week: (L) @ ECU, This Week: vs. UTEP

Did anyone really expect UCF to have a repeat of 2010 in 2011? If you did, you were completely wrong. They lost to ECU on Saturday, and that cost them and chance of reaching a bowl. In a way, I'm pretty happy. As a UTEP fan, I'd much rather play a UCF team who has no bowl hopes, compare to a UCF team fighting for their bowl lives. Wheeww.

10. Rice Owls (4-7, 3-4) Last Week: (W) vs. Tulane, This Week: @ SMU

The Owls knocked off a struggling Tulane team at home on Saturday, and now turn around to face SMU. This was a season of high hopes coming in, but it turned out to be much like the last.

11. Memphis Tigers (2-9, 1-6) Last Week: (L) vs. Marshall, This Week: @ Southern Miss

The Tigers should have 4 wins right now, but they just couldn't hold on to double digits leads against UAB and Marshall in the last two weeks. They've got a road game at USM this week, so 2 wins is probably all they'll end up with.

12. Tulane Green Wave (2-10, 1-7) Last Week: (L) @ Rice, This Week: @ Hawaii

They just can't stop the bleeding in New Orleans. Nine losses in a row, and a trip to Hawaii still to come. I'm sure this is not the season that Green Wave fans expected.

BOWL PROJECTIONS:

Bowl Game Date/Location Matchup
All State Sugar Bowl January 3rd - New Orleans, LA Michigan vs. Houston
Autozone Liberty Bowl December 31st - Memphis, TN Southern Miss vs. SEC
Ticket City Bowl January 2nd - Dallas, TX Tulsa vs. Big Ten
Beef 'O' Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl December 20th - St. Petersburg, FL ECU/Marshall vs. Big East
Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl December 30th - Dallas, TX BYU vs. SMU
Sheraton Hawaii Bowl December 24th, Honolulu, HI UTEP vs. WAC
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