Through the first five weeks of the season, only 2 Conference USA teams (Tulsa and ECU) currently have a record better than .500 overall, and only one more (UCF) has a record at that .500 mark. With that, here's a look a the Conference USA Football Power Rankings for Week 6.
12. Tulane Green Wave (0-4, 0-1) Last: (L) vs. Louisiana-Monroe, Up Next: @ Louisiana-Lafayette
We gave them the benefit of the doubt for weeks, but there's no more hiding it. The Wave are the worst team in Conference USA. Saturday Tulane fell for the 14th consecutive time, this time 63-10 at the hands of Louisiana-Monroe. Now, Monroe has shown that they're a pretty good team, but likewise Tulane has shown that they're pretty bad. On the year, the Wave rank 111th in passing yards per game, 124th in rushing yards per game, 124th in point for per game, and 122nd in points against per game. Considering there are only 124 team in the FBS, Tulane might not only be the worst team in Conference USA, they may be the worst team in all of the FBS. Up next they've got a trip to Lafayette to take on another Louisiana team who is looking pretty good so far.
11. Memphis Tigers (0-4) Last: BYE, Up Next: vs. Rice
Although they were on a bye, the Tigers were able to slip out of the bottom spot in C-USA due to a dismal performance by Tulane. The Tigers now face Rice at home in a game in which Taylor McHargue should be back under center. If Memphis isn't able to pick up a win this week, they may not have another good opportunity until November 10th when Tulane comes to town.
10. Southern Miss. Golden Eagles (0-4, 0-1) Last: (L) vs. #19/16 Louisville, Up Next: vs. #25 Boise State
Yes, the Golden Eagles held tough against a top 20 team on Saturday, but the final score to that game was extremely deceiving. First, in my opinion, Louisville is not a top 20 team, and will be exposed at some point this season. But more than that, weather conditions made it such that the game was practically played in a swimming pool. If you saw pictures, you know what I'm talking about. The score may have been 21-17, but USM managed only 13 first downs, and had only 25 passing yards! Its gonna take a lot more than just a close loss under those circumstances to make me believe this team is any better than 10th in a mediocre (at best) Conference USA. This week the Golden Eagles take on Boise State, a team that has struggled a bit on offense. Still though, this game should say a lot.
9. UAB Blazers (0-4, 0-1) Last: (L) vs. Tulsa, Up Next: vs. Southeastern Louisiana
Truth be told, I really wanted to put the Blazers higher on this list. Their 0-4 mark definitely does not tell the whole story of this team. But, they're still 0-4, and probably don't truly deserve to be any higher until they can notch one in the win column. Saturday the Blazers gave the league leading Tulsa Golden Hurricane all they could handle, and nearly came up with the upset in a 49-42 loss. The biggest problem for this team is their run game. Saturday they only netted 1 yard on the ground. If they can find a way to get that going, they could be a spoiler down the stretch. After playing a tough opening four game stretch, the Blazers now get a chance to catch their breath against Southeastern Louisiana, then it'll be up to them to keep things going at Houston.
8. SMU Mustangs (1-3) Last: (L) vs. #15/13 TCU, Up Next: @ UTEP
Much like Southern Miss, SMU was able to hold strong at home against a top 20 opponent. But, much like the USM result, this too is a bit deceiving. First, TCU is a cross town rival, and more often than not, this game is played tight. Second, this was another game involving a C-USA team where the weather greatly affected play. This contest was played under an extremely heavy downpour for the majority of the game. When you look at the numbers, the Mustangs only managed 30 yards rushing, and Garrett Gilbert was an interception machine, throwing 5 picks. Until they get more consistent play from him, they will not be winning many games. Up next the Mustangs travel to El Paso to take on UTEP. That game will likely relegate the loser to the bottom third of C-USA for the rest of the year.
7. Rice Owls (1-4, 0-2) Last: (L) vs. Houston, Up Next: @ Memphis
The game against Houston was one that the Owls desperately needed if they were going to get their season on track. That one ended with a 35-14 final in favor of the Cougars. But, all is not lost for Rice. The outcome of that game may have been decided before the teams even stepped on the field as starting quarterback, and leading passer, rusher, and receiver Taylor McHargue was out due to an injury. Ok, so he's not the leading receiver, but he's extremely important to that team. Still though, the Owls gave up over 600 yards of total offense to Houston, and that's something that will have to change if they are going to start winning games. Up next, they're at Memphis in a contest that is even more of a must win than the one last week. The good news is, Taylor McHargue should be back in the lineup.
6. UTEP Miners (1-4, 0-1) Last: (L) @ ECU, Up Next: vs. SMU
The Miners were fast out of the gate on Saturday, jumping out to leads of 7-0, and 10-7 before a weather delay of more than an hour hit in Greenville, NC. After the delay, the Miner defense played strong, coming up with back to back interceptions to give the offense the ball back, but the offense was unable to get anything going, and Miners wound up falling 28-18. The Miners have a great defensive unit that is easily one of the best in Conference USA. However, the offense is still trying to figure things out. If they don't do it soon, this season could be lost in a hurry. If it isn't already. SMU now comes to town this Saturday is what is an absolute must win for both teams. After that, league leader Tulsa awaits for a game that could have some implications in C-USA West.
5. Houston Cougars (1-3, 1-0) Last: (W) vs. Rice, Up Next: vs. North Texas
I'm not sure the Cougars deserve to make this big of a jump for knocking off a McHargueless Rice team, but I do know that no other C-USA team deserves to be put this high either. So, by default, the Houston Cougars are now in the top 5. Again, Houston knocked of Rice without their starting quarterback on Saturday, and was able to put up better than 600 yards of total offense. This team still has that big play ability and a high powered offense, but I'm not sure I'm ready to say they're back. This week they take on North Texas, and then they've got a date with UAB. If they win both, they'll be right back at .500 when they hit the road to take on a struggling SMU team. We'll see what they can do.
4. Marshall Thundering Herd (2-3, 1-0) Last: (L) @ Purdue, Up Next: vs. Tulsa
The Herd lost on the road against a pretty damn good Purdue team over the weekend. The one thing to take away from that one is that Marshall has absolutely no defense. They did make a couple stops in the second half to make this game close, and two of the scores did come on interceptions for touchdowns, but the Boilermakers still scored 37 points with ease against this team. The Herd now rank 124th in the FBS in points against with 44.4 per game. The good news is, you don't exactly need a good defense to win in Conference USA. You just have to be able to outscore the opponent. We'll see if they can outscore the Hurricane this week when Tulsa comes to town. This one still might be a preview of the Conference USA championship.
3. East Carolina Pirates (3-2, 2-0) Last: (W) vs. UTEP, Up Next: @ UCF
Yes, the Pirates "dominated" UTEP on Saturday, and were up 28-10 at one point. But, its pretty easy to dominate when the opposing quarterback is handing out early Christmas presents in gift wrapped footballs. I'm still not sold on the Pirates, but considering they are one of only two teams with a record better than .500 at this point, they definitely deserve to be in the top 3. This week they have perhaps the biggest test still remaining on the schedule, a Thursday night road game at UCF. The winner of that one will certainly take a step forward in the C-USA East race. The Pirates then have contests against Memphis, at UAB, and against Navy. They may just be bowl eligible with three games left to play.
2. UCF Knights (2-2, 0-0) Last: (L) vs. Missouri, Up Next: vs. ECU
The Knights had their opportunity to establish themselves as the best team in Conference USA with a home win over a middle of the road SEC team, and they squandered it. Even though they managed 27 first downs to only 16 for Missouri, out gained the Tigers in total yards, passing yards, and rushing yards, and controlled the time of possession, they still found a way to lose. The Knights, however, still have a pair of winnable home games coming against East Carolina and Southern Miss to start C-USA action, that could put them in good shape to win C-USA East as they head down the stretch.
1. Tulsa Golden Hurricane (4-1, 2-0) Last: (W) @ UAB, Up Next: @ Marshall
Tulsa has established themselves as the top team in Conference USA after putting up a close but solid road win over UAB. They'll now have to follow that up with another tough win on the road at Marshall if they are going to solidify themselves as the top team in conference. The Hurricane lead a well balanced offensive attacked that is 62nd in the nation in passing yards per game (236.6), 12th in the nation in rushing yards per game (248.8), and 14th in points for per game (42.0). If they can maintain that balance through the rest of the season, they will definitely be the C-USA champs.