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
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.
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.
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
6. UTSA Roadrunners (5-5, 4-2) Last: (W) 10-7 Vs. Tulane, Up Next: Bye, Last Week Rank: #7
5. Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (6-4, 4-2) Last: (W) 48-0 Vs. FIU, Up Next: Bye, Last Week Rank: #6
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
Offense: Shane Carden, ECUDefense: Kevin Byard, Middle TennesseeSpecial Teams: Shane Ianno, UTSA