Conference USA Football Power Rankings: Week 12

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Another week in the books and still a lot of important football to be played in the next couple of weeks. Here is how MinerRush stacks up the C-USA going into Week 12.

North Texas controls its own destiny in the west as they take a week off before a pivotal match-up with UTSA that should decide the west. In the east, East Carolina and Marshall continue their winning ways as they are on the collision course to decide the east. After a past of pass happy offenses, there maybe a new identity of the C-USA as nine different players ran for more than 100 yards last week. Six teams are bowl eligible with three schools with an outside chance. Here is this week's look at the C-USA

14. Southern Miss. Golden Eagles (0-9, 0-5) Last: Bye, (L) 36-13 @ LA Tech: Next up: Vs. FAU, Last Week Rank: #14

The Golden Eagles were held under 20 points for the fourth consecutive game, and in total, eight of their nine games they have been held under than mark. The losing streak now becomes legal to drink at 21, two of their last three at home. I'm rooting for a Golden Eagle upset every week.

13. FIU Golden Panthers (1-8, 1-4) Last: (L) 48-0 @ Middle Tennessee, Up Next: @ UTEP, Last Week Rank: #12

FIU was shut out for the third time this year and also gave up 556 yards to Middle Tennessee State. The young Panthers have now lost four straight and head on the road this weeks, as two of their last three are on the road and have only scored 90 points all season. Ron Turner has his hands full to get this program turned around, its safe to say FIU should live at the bottom of the conference for the next couple of years.

12. UTEP Miners (1-8, 0-5) Last: (L) 41-7 @ North Texas, Up Next: @ FIU, Last Week Rank: #13

Another loss, another poor offensive performance. This time it was the offensive line that was dominated by a superior North Texas defensive unit that exposed the patched and banged up UTEP offensive line. Running back Aaron Jones was injured and his status is in question for this weeks game against FIU. Mack Leftwich will remain at quarterback as the Miners have a chance to add their second win of 2013 this week, well at least on paper.

AROD's Sharp Pick: UTEP 20 FIU 17

11. UAB Blazers (2-7, 1-4) Last: (L) 56-14 @ Marshall, Up Next: @ East Carolina, Last Week Rank: #11

The Blazers defense gave up 657 yards of offense to Marshall including 381 on the ground. They also allowed three different Marshall 100 yard rushers in one game. The only positive lately for them is freshman running back Jordan Howard who has 100 yards rushing in back-to-back games. The Blazers could start a streak of giving up 50 points in games, as they visit ECU this week, then have Rice. The Blazers have given up 50-plus points five times this year.

10. Tulsa Golden Hurricane (2-7, 1-4) Last: (L) 58-24 @ East Carolina, Up Next: Vs Marshall, Last Week Rank: #10

The Golden Hurricane's vision is clearly on the future as Dane Evans started at quarterback and played the entire loss against ECU. Their are some nice pieces on offense to build around but the issue is clearly on the defensive side as Tulsa allowed 505 total offensive yards against ECU. Trey Watts became the first player to run for 100 yards against ECU this season, he also had a receiving touchdown. There should be a C-USA law that your not allowed to play ECU and Marshall in back-to-back weeks if your defense is terrible.

9. Florida Atlantic Owls (3-6, 2-4) Last: Bye, Up Next: @ So Miss., Last Week Rank: #8

Florida Atlantic had a bye week, now two weeks removed from the drug drama surrounding the program. Jacquez Johnson and the Owls responded to controversy with a huge upset of then #2 Tulane. The Owls now prepare for a road game with Southern Miss. At 3-6 and with the rest of the games remaining winnable, you cannot count the Owls out of a Bowling trip. Though would there be a bowl committee that would reach out to a 6-6 FAU with the baggage they now bring?

AROD's Sharp Pick: FAU 27 So Miss. 21

8. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (4-5, 3-2) Last: (W) 36-13 Vs. So Miss, Up Next: @ Rice, Last Week Rank: #9

Kenneth Dixon ran for a C-USA season high of 207 yards in the Bulldogs 36-13 home win against So. Miss. Mark that 11 career games where Dixon has surpassed 100 yards in 20 career games. Scotty Young started in place of Ryan Higgins who was injured. Huge game this week against Rice, the Bulldogs bowl hopes are still alive though the Rice game will show much the have really improved as they have three out of their last four.

7. Tulane Green Wave (6-4, 4-2) Last: (L) 10-7 @ UTSA, Up Next: Bye, Last Week Rank: #5

Tulane's struggles on offense have finally caught up and have lost them two straight. The defense is still stout and tough to score on, though UTSA forced three Tulane turnovers which would end up making a difference. The Green Wave have a bye this week, then host UTEP and end the season at Rice. Just a couple of weeks ago Tulane looked like they could be contender, now are just fighting for decent bowl.  Very curious how this team responds after back-to-back losses against teams they could have beat.

6. UTSA Roadrunners (5-5, 4-2) Last: (W) 10-7 Vs. Tulane, Up Next: Bye, Last Week Rank: #7

The legend of UTSA kicker Sean Ianno keeps growing. The UTSA kicker nailed a 34 yard field goal with 14 seconds left in the game to give UTSA a huge 10-7 win over Tulane last week in the Alamodome.  The seven points allowed against Tulane was the fewest allowed ever by an FBS opponent UTSA has faced. Defensively its been the same producers all season for the Runners, Steven Kurfehs, Drew Douglas, and Cody Berry all are difference makers to go along with a tough defensive line. Running back Brandon Armstrong has also been solid the past couple of weeks giving them another option on offense that has a lot of hands touch the ball as it is. One of the biggest games in program history is against North Texas this week, impressive work they have done winning three straight after losing three straight.  This game is surely to start a rivalry between these two proud fan bases.

5. Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (6-4, 4-2) Last: (W) 48-0 Vs. FIU, Up Next: Bye, Last Week Rank: #6

The Blue Raiders won their third straight and also became bowl eligible with a win last week against FIU. Logan Kilgore was on point last week, he went 17 out of 20 for 269 yards. The Blue Raiders emptied the bench in their first shut out of the season, as freshman running back Shane Tucker had 95 yards rushing on two touchdowns. The Blue Raiders have third place in the east on lock and are having a solid finish to the season, after a rough slide in the middle of their schedule.

4. Rice Owls (6-3, 4-1) Last: Bye, Up Next: Vs. LA Tech, Last Week Rank: #4

The Rice Owls had a bye last week after North Texas snapped their five game winning streak. Despite the loss, the Owls rank 18th overall in the FBS in rushing yards per game. A win against an improved and confident LA Tech will be not easy this week. The Bulldogs have struggled to stop the run for most of the year, it will be close early but Rice should pull away with Charles Ross late in the second half.

AROD's Sharp Pick: Rice 41 LA Tech 20

3. Marshall Thundering Herd (6-3, 4-1) Last: (W) 56-14 Vs UAB, Up Next: @ Tulsa, Last Week Rank: #3

Marshall has took care of business the past two weeks against teams they were suppose to hang 50 on. They have scored 166 points in their last three games and now rank 10th in the FBS in scoring offense. This road trip to Tulsa is not a given, Marshall for some reason has played close games on the road this season. Marshall gave up 208 rushing yards to a physical FAU squad early in the year.  Tulsa can run the ball physically too and I think that is what will keep this game close. Tulsa will have to find away to put up 30-plus points that is they only way there will be an upset against a hot Marshall offense.

AROD's Sharp Pick: Marshall 38 Tulsa 20

2. North Texas Mean Green (7-3, 5-1) Last: (W) 41-7 Vs. UTEP, Up Next: Bye, Last Week Rank: #2

Winners of their last five, North Texas stays a top the west and checks in at number 2. Brandin Byrd ran for a career high 202 yards and two touchdowns against UTEP last week. Defensivley they forced UTEP to have more punt yards then total offense yards. The Mean Green are for real this year and should represent the west against either Marshall or East Carolina. It will not be easy wrapping the west this week. UTSA comes into Denton with a lot of confidence. This will be a good physical game to watch, though the I gotta go with North Texas.  Experience and play makers are the difference in my mind, in what could be one the best college football games of the season.

1. East Carolina Pirates (7-2, 5-1) Last: (W) 58-24 Vs. Tulsa, Up Next: Vs. UAB, Last Week Rank: #1

The Pirates handled business at home against against Tulsa last weekend, Shane Carden is our C-USA player of the week after accounting for seven touchdowns. Justin Hardy is the first C-USA receiver to hit 1000 yards are his 10 catch 99 yard performance last week, that is now back-to-back 1000 yard season for him. DaShaun Amos added insult to injury with a 100 yard interception return as time expired. ECU has now won 10 out of their last 11 C-USA games, they are clearly the class of the C-USA and one the top non-AQ teams in the nation.

AROD's Sharp Pick: ECU 58 UAB 10

MinerRush C-USA Players of The Week:
Offense: Shane Carden, ECU
Defense: Kevin Byard, Middle Tennessee
Special Teams: Shane Ianno, UTSA

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