The week is off to a wild start as the coaching carousel in college football continues to turn, and more rumors are flying about the future of the Big East. Right now, there's still a basketball season to play, so let's take a look at how Conference USA lines up in this week's power rankings.
12. Rice Owls (2-5) Last: (W) vs. Houston Baptist, Up Next: vs. LIU Brooklyn
Nothing has changed for the Owls since the last time we talked about them. They last played against Houston Baptist on December 1st, and were able to pick up their second win of the season. Up next, they've got LIU and Hartford, with trips to Texas and Harvard still left on the non-conference slate. They'll have a chance to pick up 1 or 2 of those, but not many more than that.
11. UTEP Miners (3-4) Last: (W) vs. Idaho, Up Next: vs. #20 UNLV
The Miners are improving, and with Konner Tucker getting healthy and McKenzie Moore becoming eligible, things can only go up from here. They knocked off a pesky Idaho squad last week by 4, after leading by as many as 18 in the second half. Up next, they've got games against #20 UNLV, and an Oregon team that is on the brink of being ranked. These will be tough tests, but this team will be better because of them. Don't expect them to occupy this spot much longer.
10. UAB Blazers (5-5) Last: (W) vs. South Alabama, Up Next: @ Rutgers
The Blazers are scoring a ton of points, but only finding wins against subpar opponents, as they've been unable to outscore the likes of Creighton, North Carolina, and Middle Tennessee. They last won at home against South Alabama, only their second win in the last six tries. Up next, they're at Rutgers. The Blazers will be able to compete in Conference USA because of their explosive offense, but right now they're just not getting it done.
9. Marshall Thundering Herd (6-3) Last: (W) vs. Coppin State, Up Next: vs. #11 Cincinnati
While their record may say 6-3, the Herd continue to struggle in the early going. Last week they missed out on an opportunity to knock off in state rival West Virginia, and needed a big second half to get by 1-8 Coppin State. They were actually down by double digits in that game, and still trailed with three minutes to play. They've got a ton of talent on that team, but that kind of play just isn't good enough. Up next, they've got #11 Cincinnati at home.
8. East Carolina Pirates (6-1) Last: (W) vs. St. Andrews, Up Next: @ #21 North Carolina
The Pirates are another team that hasn't been in action since the last time we ran these rankings. They've built up a nice 6-1 record, but they've done so against the likes of Washington & Lee, Methodist, and St. Andrews. Up next, they've got a tough road test at #21 North Carolina so we'll have a better gauge on them after that one.
7. Tulane Green Wave (7-3) Last: (L) @ San Diego, Up Next: vs. UT Pan American
The Green Wave are a talented bunch but if they want to win in Conference USA they're going to have to figure out how to win on the road. They last played at San Diego, a 78-72 loss. Now, San Diego isn't a bad team, but they are one that a good C-USA team should be able to handle. Up next, they'll take on UTPA, and they've still got a tough one against Alabama in the non-conference.
6. Tulsa Golden Hurricane (6-3) Last: (W) vs. TCU, Up Next: @ Arkansas-Little Rock
The Golden Hurricane did well to turn things around last week, knocking off both Missouri State and TCU at home. Those wins came on the heels of a 1-3 stretch. But, they aren't out of the woods yet. Now starts a tough three game road swing that features games at UALR, #16 Creighton, and Oral Roberts. They'll follow that up with a home game against Florida State. If they can manage to win 2 of 4 they'll be ok heading into conference. If they can win more, look out for the Hurricane.
5. Southern Miss. Golden Eagles (6-3) Last: (L) @ Louisiana Tech, Up Next: vs. Grambling
After starting 6-0, the Golden Eagles have now dropped three straight to fall to 6-3. Last they fell at Louisiana Tech by 10 to end a three game road swing. Considering all three losses came on the road, and against quality opponents, the Golden Eagles wont plunge further in these rankings right now. But, like Tulane, this team is going to have to figure out how to win on the road if they're going to contend in C-USA. Up next, they'll get Grambling.
4. Houston Cougars (7-2) Last: (W) vs. Texas Southern, Up Next: vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
As said last week, the Cougars continue to show that they are an extremely talented bunch, but young and inconsistent. Following losses to Prairie View and Texas A&M, they went on the road and picked up a big win at TCU. Then they follow that up with a poor performance against 1-8 Texas Southern in which they needed overtime to win. They were actually down by 11 with less than 8 minutes to play in that one. This team will continue to grow as they get more experience, but right now there's no telling what they're going to do. Up next, they've got Louisiana-Lafayette.
3. Central Florida Knights (4-2) Last: (W) vs. Florida Tech, Up Next: vs. Bethune-Cookman
The Knights move up even though they've been out of action since the last power rankings were released. They're another team that's been inconsistent, but they're also one that has plenty of experience to overcome that inconsistent play. By the time conference play gets here, they should be one to look out for. Up next, they'll take on Bethune-Cookman.
2. SMU Mustangs (8-1) Last: (W) @ Hofstra, Up Next: @ Rhode Island
The Mustangs are another team that was off last week, and they maintain their number 2 spot through their off time. They've got a couple of road games at Rhode Island and at Utah coming up that won't be easy, but Larry Brown has got his team playing at a high level early on. We'll see how long they can keep that up for.
1. Memphis Tigers (6-2) Last: (W) vs. Austin Peay, Up Next: vs. #6 Louisville
The Tigers have no won four straight, and three in impressive fashion since their poor performance at Atlantis. They beat Austin Peay by 18 last week in their final tuneup for the biggest game of their non-conference slate. Regardless of what happens against Louisville, this team will keep their ranking until anyone else proves they're better. That might not happen for a couple more weeks.