Four weeks in the books, and things around Conference USA are really starting to take shape. Houston made its way to 4-0, and UCF dropped another one to fall back to 2-2. Do they still deserve the no. 2 spot? Here are this week's Conference USA Power Rankings.
1. Houston Cougars (4-0) Last Week: (W) vs. Georgia St., This Week: @ UTEP
The Cougars went out and did exactly what we thought they would, dropping Georgia St. 56-0. They are undoubtedly the best team in conference this year, and an easy schedule should allow them to stay the no. 1 team throughout the rest of the season. This week Houston travels to face UTEP, which won't be an easy task, then its back home to take on ECU in a game that should be absolutely electric.2. UCF Knights (2-2) Last Week: (L) @ BYU, This Week: vs. Marshall
The Knights are lucky to keep their no. 2 spot. In fact, if SMU had beat someone other than Memphis 42-0, they'd likely have taken this spot over. The Knights have hit a tough patch, dropping its last two games by a small margin. Still, a loss is a loss, and if they want to keep pace in C-USA, they are going to have to start winning those close games. This week they take on Marshall. A loss to the Herd would definitely drop the Knights in the C-USA power rankings, and would certainly put a damper on the season as well.
3. SMU Mustangs (3-1) Last Week: (W) @ Memphis, This Week: @ No. 20 TCU
I've been saying that I'm still not sold on the Mustangs, but I'm getting there. They took care of Memphis 42-0, which they should've, and they'll have an opportunity to make a statement for themselves over the next two weeks. Even if they lose to TCU, next week's matchup at home vs. UCF will certainly give them an opportunity to take a step up in Conference USA.
4. Southern Miss Golden Eagles (3-1) Last Week: (W) @ Virginia, This Week: vs. Rice
I'm giving the Golden Eagles the nod here after their road win at Virginia. Sure its not a top tier ACC team, but they finally seem to be finding their rhythm a bit. This week they take on Rice, and next week will be a true test at a solid Navy team. Southern Miss should take care of Rice, but if they take care of Navy as well, we could see them jump up to no. 2 in conference depending on how other things play out.
5. ECU Pirates (1-2) Last Week: (W) vs. UAB, This Week: @ North Carolina
I'm still high on the Pirates, but they deserved to drop this week after committing 7 turnovers, and nearly handing UAB its first win. The fact that the Pirates still won the game shows just how good they are, but play like that this week against the Tarheels, and you might just suffer your worst loss yet. UNC is 3-1 and only dropped a game to No. 25 Georgia Tech this past weekend. That will be a good test to determine whether or not the Pirates are for real.
6. Tulsa Golden Hurricane (1-3) Last Week: (L) @ No. 4 Boise St., This Week: vs. North Texas
To be honest I'm getting tired of putting Tulsa this high in the rankings when they keep losing games, but it's almost impossible to drop them when their losses are against the no. 1, no. 4, and no. 8 teams in the nation. This week they've got North Texas, and the week after they play UAB. Win both of those, and you'll justify your position, but drop either and you'll find yourself quite a ways down the power rankings.
7. UTEP Miners (2-2) Last Week: (L) @ No. 18 USF, This Week: vs. Houston
I'm gaining more and more confidence in the Miners every week. I'm sure people see the final score against USF, and assume it was a huge blowout. That wasn't the case. The Miners stayed within 14 points almost the entire game, and had multiple chances to cut it to 7 in the 4th quarter. After they didn't, the Bulls took advantage and blew things open. This week the Miners take on Houston. They usually play the Cougs tough, and I don't expect anything different this Thursday. If Nick Lamaison is making the start, Houston's gonna have their hands full.
8. Rice Owls (1-2) Last Week: (L) @ N0. 17 Baylor , This Week: @Southern Miss
The Owls maintain their position, by virtue of having no one else to put here. The truth is they had absolutely no shot against Baylor, as they were down 28-0 before they finally broke through with a score. This week they take a trip to Hattiesburg, MS to take on Southern Miss, before returning home to take on lowly Memphis. We'll see if someone can pick up a win to overtake the Owls in the power rankings, because I see them falling to 1-3.
9. Tulane Green Wave (2-2) Last Week: (L) @ Duke, This Week: @ Army
I'm not so sure the Green Wave belong in this spot, but as with Rice there really no one else to put here. The Green Wave got handled at Duke over the weekend, and now prepare to travel to Army for Saturday's game. Army is 1-3 on the season with a win over Northwestern, but losses against San Diego State, Ball State, and Northern Illinois. The latter two were by 20+ points. The Green Wave could really use a win here, and they should have a chance to get it.
10. Marshall Thundering Herd (1-3) Last Week: (L) vs. No. 13 Virginia Tech, This Week: @ Louisville
The Herd lost to No. 13 Va Tech by 20, which was expected, but I'm still not sure what to make of the 5 TD loss against Ohio the week before. This week they travel to take on Louisville, and then its on to Orlando for a game against UCF. The Herd looked like a possible contender two weeks ago, but considering their next two opponents, they will likely find themselves at 1-5 through the first half of the season.
11. UAB Blazers (0-3) Last Week: (L) @ ECU, This Week: @ Troy
This is shaping up to be a very disappointing season for the Blazers. Saturday they lost a game to East Carolina, even though the Pirates had 7 turnovers, and almost tried to give the game away. The Blazers now take on Troy, before returning home to take on Mississippi St. It's extremely surprising, but this team could very easily be 0-5 in a couple weeks. Who knows, they might even go longer than that before they get a win.
12. Memphis Tigers (1-3) Last Week (L) SMU, This Week: @ Middle Tennessee
The Tigers will have another chance to pick up their second win this week with a game against Middle Tennessee on the ballot. But, it wont be easy. Middle Tennessee may be 0-3, but they've been very competitive for the most part. If the Tigers can win this game, and UAB loses to Troy, I will have no choice but to move the Tigers out of the bottom spot in C-USA.