Football season isn't quite over as there are still conference championship games, and bowls left to play, but this will be the Rush's final power rankings for the 2011 season. It's been an interesting season, successful for some, and disappointing for others, but all in all very entertaining. Here are the Conference USA Power Rankings.
1. #6 Houston Cougars (12-0, 8-0) Last Week: (W) @ Tulsa, This Week: vs. #24 Southern Miss
The Cougars finished off their undefeated regular season Friday with a 48-16 win at Tulsa. Houston currently sits at #6 in the latest BCS poll, and will find themselves in a BCS bowl for the first time ever if they can just beat Southern Miss in the C-USA championship.
Possible Bowl Matchup: Houston vs. Michigan - All State Sugar Bowl
2. #24 Southern Miss Golden Eagles (10-2, 6-2) Last Week: (W) vs. Memphis, This Week: vs. #6 Houston
The Golden Eagles closed out the regular season with a 44-7 win over Memphis. Southern Miss could have easily found themselves facing Houston this week for the chance to play in a BCS bowl, but two slip ups against Marshall (26-20) and UAB (34-31) have pretty much relegated the Golden Eagles to the Liberty Bowl.
Possible Bowl Matchup: Southern Miss vs. Vanderbilt - Autozone Liberty Bowl
3. Tulsa Golden Hurricane (8-4, 7-1) Last Week: (L) vs. #6 Houston, This Week: Off
The Golden Hurricane saw their season end in somewhat disappointing fashion, as their upset bid of Houston fell short by a final of 48-16. Still, this was a very successful season for the Hurricane, especially when considering they lost start WR Damaris Johnson right before the season began. Tulsa's four losses came against Oklahoma St. (#3), Houston (#6), Boise St. (#7), and Oklahoma (#10).
Possible Bowl Matchup: Tulsa vs. Purdue - Ticket City Bowl
4. Marshall Thundering Herd (6-6, 5-3) Last Week: (W) vs. ECU, This Week: Off
The Thundering Herd were up and down all year, but won their last two games to make it to bowl eligibility. After being down 22-10 with 11:00 minutes to go against Memphis two weeks ago, the Herd rallied to pick up the 23-22 win. They also won Saturday against ECU, and now wait to find out where they will be bowling.
Possible Bowl Matchup: Marshall vs. Pitt - Beef 'O' Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl
5. SMU Mustangs (7-5, 5-3) Last Week: (W) vs. Rice, This Week: Off
The Mustangs picked up a 27-24 win over Rice on Saturday, but finished the season 2-4. Included in the four losses were games against Houston, Southern Miss, and Tulsa.
Possible Bowl Matchup: SMU vs. Nevada - Sheraton Hawaii Bowl
6. ECU Pirates (5-7, 4-4) Last Week: (L) @ Marshall, This Week: Off
The Pirates needed a win at Marshall on Saturday to finish 6-6 and reach a bowl game, but the final result was a 34-27 OT loss. This season had greater expectations than this, but a slow start and finish doomed the Pirates.
7. UCF Knights (5-7, 3-5) Last Week: (W) vs. UTEP, This Week: Off
The Knights season figuratively ended last week when they lost at ECU, but bragging right were still on the line as the Miners came to town for senior night. That's when the Knights went to town in a 31-14 victory that was 31-0 in the 4th quarter.
8. UTEP Miners (5-7, 2-6) Last Week: (L) @ UCF, This Week: Off
The Miners' season ended with a 31-14 loss at UCF on Friday. Expectations weren't exactly high in El Paso entering the season, but it was sure disappointing to watch our team end the season the way they did. Poor performances against Rice, Tulsa, and UCF in three of the last four made this season an extreme disappointment.
9. Rice Owls (4-8, 3-5) Last Week: (L) @ SMU, This Week: Off
The Owls' season ended with a 27-24 loss against SMU on Saturday. Hopes in Houston were high coming into the season, but this year turned out much like last.
10. UAB Blazers (3-9, 3-5) Last Week: (L) @ Florida Atlantic, This Week: Off
Absolutely pathetic. The Blazers knock off then #20 USM, and then turn around and lost to a then winless Florida Atlantic team. I'm not sure what happened in Birmingham this year, but there should be some changes after this campaign.
11. Memphis Tigers (2-10, 1-7) Last Week: (L) @ #24 Southern Miss, This Week: Off
No one really expected much out of the Tigers this season, and not much is exactly what they got. Memphis has double digit leads in the 4th quarter two weeks in a row against UAB and Marshall, but wound up giving both of those away. Memphis' season ended on Saturday with a 44-7 loss to Southern Miss.
12. Tulane Green Wave (2-11, 1-7) Last Week: (L) @ Hawaii, This Week: Off
At one point this season, the Green Wave was 2-1. They finished the season 2-11 after dropping 10 in a row, including Saturday's 35-23 loss at Hawaii.