Conference USA Power Rankings: Week 10

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Our second number one of the season dropped a heartbreaking thriller meaning a new number one takes its throne. Great weekend for C-USA's Texas football schools not named UTEP, as North Texas, UTSA and Rice combined for an average of 50.6 ponts and all put up over 500 yards of offense. Some interesting shake ups in the rankings this week that will be sure to stir up some conversations, here is how the Rush stacks the C-USA for week 10.

14. Southern Miss. Golden Eagles (0-7, 0-3) Last: Bye, (L) 55-14 Vs. North Texas: Next up: @ Marshall, Last Week Rank: #14

Freshman quarterback Nick Mullens became the fifth true freshman ever to start for the Golden Eagles in their 55-14 loss to North Texas. He threw for 210 yards and a score in the loss, but completed less than fifty percent of his passes and threw three interceptions. The Golden Eagles are clearly building for the future by going with a true freshman who really wasn't heralded or highly regarded as a recruit coming out of high school. Things do not get easier as they will travel to face a hungry Marshall squad who puts up points and needs a rebound win.

13. UTEP Miners (1-6, 0-4) Last: (L) 45-7 Vs. Rice, Up Next: @ #12 Texas A&M, Last Week Rank: #13

UTEP was beat up literally and figuratively last weekend in Houston. The Miners lost starters quarterback Jameill Showers, fullback Darrin Laufasa, and corner Adrian James. Both Miner and Aggie fans were looking forward to Showers's return to his graduating school and it hurts to see a kid who works hard and is a great person to deal with an injury like that. The Miners will turn to Blaire Sullivan who threw a 50 yard touchdown pass to Ian Hamilton on his first attempt against Rice. Despite being down big from the second quarter on, the Miners only attempted 9 passes with Sullivan in as the signal caller, I wouldn't expect the Miners to throw much going forward. Running back Aaron Jones is well on his way to a spot on the freshman All-American team. He set a career high of 186 yards last week, and is the nation's freshman leader in rushing yards per game. The Miners will hope to just stay healthy next week in their visit to College Station. Good test for the young Miners secondary to get a look at one of the more talented quarterbacks they will ever face in their careers. When does basketball start again?

AROD's Sharp Pick: Texas A&M 52 Los Mineros: 7

12. FIU Golden Panthers (1-6, 1-2) Last: (L) 23-7 Vs. LA Tech, Up Next: Vs. East Carolina, Last Week Rank: #12

The Golden Panthers were held to under 200 yards of total offense and turned the ball over three times last week in their loss against LA Tech. Defensively Justin Halley did snatch two interceptions as FIU forced three interceptions to keep the score somewhat respectable. FIU will conclude its three game home stand with a hungry and super talented ECU team who is back on top of the east.

11. UAB Blazers (2-5, 1-2) Last: (L) 52-31 @ UTSA , Up Next: Vs. Middle Tennessee, Last Week Rank: #11

The Blazers found themselves down 31-3 with ten minutes left until halftime in the Alamodome last Saturday. That now makes it four times this season they have let up 50+points as a team, and I expect that to happen a couple of more times with the tough schedule up ahead. Though running back Darrin Reaves has continued to play solid both on the ground and in the pass game. I think its time for the Blazers to give Austin Brown the reigns at quarterback, he could be really special but the Blazers have a long way to go become a threat in the conference again.

10. Florida Atlantic Owls (2-6, 1-4) Last: (L) 45-10 @ #11 Auburn, Up Next: Vs. Tulane, Last Week Rank: #8

The Owls got a good look at a top level SEC team as they have now played two ranked opponents on the road. It was tough going on offense as they were forced to punt ten times, and only had three drives go for 30 or more yards, and the big play continues to plague the defense. Playing a tough schedule with a not so deep team can kill you or improve you and we will find out where the Owls fall in that category. Watch out Tulane FAU has played tough at home when they have played there at home this season.

9. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (3-5, 2-2) Last: (W) 23-7 @ FIU, Up Next: Bye, Last Week Rank: #10

Kenneth Dixon was Mr. Everything again for the Bulldogs as they were able to shut down FIU on the defensive side. Ryan Higgins is still showing his growing pains as the quarterback, he threw three interceptions, though continues to spread it around getting everyone involved in the offense. They should beat Southern Miss coming out of this weeks bye, which would would put them in a position to make a huge turnaround, and be in the middle of the C-USA west race if North Texas can knock off Rice tomorrow. It's realistic to say the Bulldogs still have a shot at a bowl, though they will have to beat Rice first before that happens. The defense was better against FIU, though all the work over the next week in Ruston will be on improving a run defense that has been gashed all season.

8. Tulsa Golden Hurricane (2-5, 1-2) Last: (L) 14-7 @ Tulane, Up Next: Vs. UTSA, Last Week Rank: #6

Tulsa deserves to be lower, but fought hard against Tulane and if Cody Green was playing Tulane loses. I did notice Green was walking with a limp after the UTEP game but didn't think it was serious. Well it was serious enough to kill their bowl chances and now gives Bill Blakenship a rebuilding project that will be interesting to watch going forward. Trey Watts was held in check as the Golden Hurricane ran the ball heavily against Tulane. UTSA is decent at stopping the run, if you can pass well you can beat them, though without Cody Green, though he has had his share of struggles, the Hurricane will continue to struggle in that department.

7. UTSA Roadrunners (3-5, 2-2) Last: (W) 52-21 Vs. UAB, Up Next: @ Tulsa, Last Week Rank: #9

There is still life and important football left to be played out there in San Antonio, as the offense got back on track and put up a school record 523 yards of offense. Kam Jones appears healthy again as he recorded his first multi-touchdown game of the season, and Eric Soza was back to spreading the love on offense against UAB. But I'm sure most of the talk in Larry Cokerville is the the emergence of the secondary who finally got its first interception of the season, and was very solid while the starters where in the game as they were up 52-17 early in the fourth. After losing three straight, the Roadrunners have now created a situation for themselves in which they control their own possible bowl destination. This week is a huge start to any of that talk as its not out of the question for them to win out and finish with seven wins with a favorable schedule left on deck. If Cody Green plays its a lot closer, but I'm going to assume he is out.

AROD's Sharp Pick: UTSA 34 Tulsa 17

6. Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (4-4, 2-2) Last: (W) 51-49 Vs. Marshall, Up Next: @ UAB, Last Week Rank: #7

Jordan Parker and Reggie Whatley kept the Blue Raiders in the game as they combined for 231 yards rushing. Quarterback Logan Kilgore was the hero as he hit Tarvarres Jefferson for a 9 yard touchdown as time expired to upset Marshall. This win gives an offense that has been struggling huge confidence in the passing game going forward as their next four oppenents are a combined 4-24. The run game has been there all year, getting Kilgore going should be easy with his confidence building performance as they face horrible defense's the rest of the way in a three headed C-USA east race with ECU and Marshall.

AROD's Sharp Pick: MTSU 45 UAB 20

5. Marshall Thundering Herd (4-3, 2-1) Last: (L) 51-49 @ Middle Tennessee, Up Next: Vs. So. Miss, Last Week Rank: #1

It appeared that Marshall was one defensive stop away from a escaping Middle Tennessee with a W, as running back Essray Taliaferro gave them a lead with a little more two minutes left in the fourth. Though the defense would give up its second 13 play scoring drive of the game, as Logan Kilgore would use every second of the 2:29 left by Taliaferro on the ensuing drive, and picked apart the Marshall secondary for the win. Marshall should bounce back not only this week but the next three games that will set up a shootout with ECU for the east crown assuming the Pirates win their next three conference games which they should. The loss was tough as the Herd continue to struggle on the road, if Marshall and ECU play right now ECU wins, though the next four will give Marshall huge confidence going into that game.

AROD's Sharp Pick: Marshall 56 So. Miss 17

4. North Texas Mean Green (5-3, 3-1) Last: (W) 55-14 @ So. Miss, Up Next: Vs. LA Tech, Last Week Rank: #5

North Texas won their third straight and had their biggest margin in a road victory since 1958 as they beat So. Miss last week. Derek Thompson passed for 300 yards for the seventh time in his career as well in the victory, as the defense is proving to be one of the best in the conference. Huge game this week as they host red-hot Rice, both teams are playing very well and are on winning streaks. I think North Texas has more play makers on offense than Rice and is better defensively maybe another number one team goes down on a Thursday night for the second straight week.

3. East Carolina Pirates (5-2, 3-1) Last: Bye, Up Next: @ FIU, Last Week Rank: #4

No one enjoyed that Middle Tennessee upset of Marshall then ECU fan. Not only did it move them up one spot in Power Rankings, but also put them back in the drivers seat in the east with an easy conference schedule before that much talked about match-up with Marshall. I would like to see Vintavious Cooper get a lot more carries, but you cannot argue that when the ball is in Shane Carden's hands the offense is at its best. With three of their last five on the road it will not be easy, though ECU is my favorite out of the east, as they are still one of the top teams in C-USA.

AROD's Sharp Pick: ECU 55 FIU 10

2. Tulane Green Wave (6-2, 4-0) Last: (W) 14-7 Vs. Tulsa, Up Next: FAU, Last Week Rank: #3

The Green Wave became bowl eligible for the first time since 2002, and are the feel good story of the 2013 college football season. They kept Trey Watts in check for the most part limiting his big play ability, as safety Sam Scofield was every where making 18 tackles and forcing a fumble. Statistically, it hard to imagine how they are 6-2, they rank 100th in rushing and 103rd in the FBS in passing. Wide receiver Ryan Grant accounts for 700 of the 1507 passing yards by the Green Wave this season, raising his NFL Draft stock in the process. To me this trip to Florida to face the Owls of FAU has upset written all over it. Both teams are physical and Tulane will have to put up points as the Owls have some decent speed out of the backfield.

AROD's Sharp Pick: FAU 20 Tulane 17

1. Rice Owls (6-2, 4-0) Last: (W) 45-7 Vs. UTEP, Up Next: @ North Texas, Last Week Rank: #2

Rice is more than deserving of the top spot after winning their fifth straight against UTEP. Taylor McHargue gained needed confidence as he threw for four touchdowns. Charles Ross is back and fully healthy as that is now three games he has gone over the 150 yard rushing mark on the season. Rice has been the hottest team in the C-USA since October started and will end October with the C-USA game of the week. This game will be super close as Rice will try to pound a tough North Texas defense on the ground. I like North Texas at home, their defense will make the key stops though the Owls will come out strong, North Texas will make more plays to win creating an interesting next couple of weeks atop the C-USA west.

AROD's Sharp Pick: North Texas 33 Rice 30

MinerRush C-USA Players of the Week

Offense: Jordan Taylor, WR, Rice

Defense: Sam Scofield, S, Tulane

Special Teams: Kyle Fischer, K, LA Tech
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