Conference USA Football Power Rankings: Week 14

Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sp

The final week of the C-USA regular season is here, and there is still lots to figure out in both divisions.

The C-USA championship picture is clearing up, finally we get to see ECU v Marshall, and Rice can close out the west with a win against Tulane.  Here is how we stack up the C-USA for the final week of the 2013 season.  We will have a final Power Ranking and 2013 Rush Awards after the conference championship game, stay tuned.

14. Southern Miss. Golden Eagles (0-11, 0-7) Last: (L) 42-21 Vs. Middle Tennessee: Next up: @ UAB, Last Week Rank: #14

Southern Miss ended their home schedule with another loss, this time to Middle Tennessee.  Nick Mullens is showing life and has put up respectable numbers since taking over at quarterback.  That is one positive to build for the future.  This week is their bowl game with a beatable UAB team on the road.  Do I dare pick a Golden Eagle upset?

13. FIU Golden Panthers (1-10, 1-6) Last: (L) 48-10 Vs. Marshall, Up Next: Vs. Florida Atlantic, Last Week Rank: #13

Make it five straight games the Golden Panthers have been held under 14 points.  No where to look but up for the Golden Panther as Ron Tuner has a lot of roster spots to fill.

12. UTEP Miners (2-9, 1-6) Last: (L) 45-3 @ Tulane, Up Next: @ Middle Tennessee, Last Week Rank: #11

All was well after the Miners pushed around FIU in the Sun Bowl.  The Miners did not show up and got slapped by Tulane 45-3. The Miners are thin at almost every position as injuries have accumulated, adding to laundry list of reasons why UTEP will only win two games.  The hope in El Paso is that Showers returns healthy and Sean Kulger can bring in some JUCO help on the defensive side.

11. UAB Blazers (2-9, 1-6) Last: (L) 37-34 OT Vs. Rice, Up Next: Vs. So Miss., Last Week Rank: #12

The Blazers fell short of a huge upset last week at home against Rice. Jonathan Perry held it down in the passing game and in the run game, though giving up the big play has killed UAB all year.  A chance to end the season on a positive note this week, though are they better than Southern Miss.

AROD's Sharp Pick: UAB 31 So Miss. 23

10Tulsa Golden Hurricane (3-8, 2-5) Last: (W) 24-14 @ LA Tech, Up Next: Vs. North Texas, Last Week Rank: #10

Trey Watts had his fourth 100 yard rushing game in a row in last week's win.  His career high 189 yards rushing lead to three touchdowns and a possible first team all conference honor at running back.  Darnell Walker added two interception on defense as the Golden Hurricane picked up their second conference win.

9. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (4-7, 3-4) Last: (L) 24-14 Vs. Tulsa, Up Next: @  UTSA, Last Week Rank: #9

Fans are calling for Skip Holtz's dome. It really is not fair, Holtz had this team on the verge of a huge turnaround, though the run defense is just not up to par for him to make a miracle.  I like Holtz and think he should be the guy going forward, and I mean outside of Terry Bradshaw who else would be fired up for the LA Tech job and who is a better name out there. Kenneth Dixon and Tevin King are both sophomores and are nice tadem in the backfield to build around, the key is defense something Holtz was known for at ECU.  Give it time, LA Tech will be west contender regular.

8. Florida Atlantic Owls (5-6, 3-4) Last: (W) 55-10 Vs. New Mexico State, Up Next: Vs. FIU, Last Week Rank: #8

FAU notched their second highest scoring total in school history in their 55-10 drubbing of NMSU.  Thought NMSU keep it close but my inner Denny Green says they are who we "know" they are, despite some improved play over last couple of weeks.  Its hard to imagine a bowl picking a 6-6 Owls team, as almost all the bowl spots have been filed.

AROD's Sharp Pick: FAU 42 FIU 6

7. Tulane Green Wave (7-4, 5-2) Last: (W) 45-3 Vs. UTEP, Up Next: @ Rice, Last Week Rank: #7

Tulane is like a box of chocolates, you just never know what team your going to get each week. One constant has been their ability for force turnovers on defense.  Ryan Grant got going in the passing game, going over 100 yards receiving, something they will need against Rice.  A win against Rice creates a tie breaker situation involving three different teams in the west.  Tulane rushed for 277 yards on a suspect UTEP defense, a lot of confidence heading into Houston.

6. UTSA Roadrunners (6-5, 5-2) Last: (W) 21-13 @ North Texas, Up Next: Vs. LA Tech, Last Week Rank: #6

What a four week stretch for UTSA.  Four straight wins, they are now forcing turnovers on defense, and find themselves in a unique bow situation.  I've heard from numerous credible media sources that there is no way any bowl would take a UTSA team that is considered in "transition" from the FCS.   Its a shame, the only team to put up 35 points on #7 ranked Oklahoma State: UTSA.  Larry Coker loaded the schdule early probably with that in mind, and it should be respected.  Not exactly sure who is in the wings at quarterback to replace Soza for next year, but the Runners have arrived in C-USA to be a noise maker.

AROD's Sharp Pick: UTSA 34 LA Tech 13

5. Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (7-4, 5-2) Last: (W) 42-21 @ So Miss., Up Next: Vs. UTEP, Last Week Rank: #5

The Blue Raiders won their fourth straight in last weeks win at Southern Miss.  Kevin Byard maybe the best defensive player in the league after another pick 6. Eight wins is something huge to build in their first year in the league.  They should already be focusing on bring home a bowl win to cap off an impressive season.

AROD's Sharp Pick: MTSU 45 UTEP 17

4. North Texas Mean Green (7-4, 5-2) Last: (L) 21-13 Vs. UTSA, Up Next: @ Tulsa, Last Week Rank: #2

What a difference one loss makes.  They had won five in a row and controlled their own destiny in the west, and now with a loss against UTSA will not be bringing home a conference championship.  Still a good team that should bring home a bowl win and will represent C-USA well.  Their defense is still one of the top in the conference, as they now have a streak of six straight games with an interception, and have forced a turnover in every game this season.

AROD's Sharp Pick: North Texas 27 Tulsa 14

3. Rice Owls (8-3, 6-1) Last: (W) 37-34 OT @ UAB, Up Next: Vs. Tulane, Last Week Rank: #4

Oh how Rice got lucky.  I hate the word trap game, though their OT win against UAB was just that.  Maybe the Charles Ross injury was a factor, but Rice is back in the drivers seat in the west. The Owls hit the 300 yard rushing mark for the third time this season, they also had a season high four sacks on defense.  Win and their in game against Tulane this week, who will Rice face the conference championship game?

AROD's Sharp Pick:  Rice 23 North Texas 19

2. Marshall Thundering Herd (8-3, 6-1) Last: (W) 48-10 Vs. FIU, Up Next: @ Vs. East Carolina, Last Week Rank: #3

Gator Hoskins went off for 137 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns, in the Herd's 48-10 whipping of FIU. Hoskins has caught more touchdown passes than any other tight end in Marshall history.  Rakeem Cato is now up 32 touchdown passes on the season.  The Herd have won four straight including six out of their last seven.  What a game we have tomorrow as the east will finally be decided.

1. East Carolina Pirates (9-2, 6-1) Last: (W) 42-28 @ NC State, Up Next: @ Marshall, Last Week Rank: #1

For the third straight game, Shane Carden accounted for five touchdowns on offense as ECU now owns the state of North Carolina.  After being billed as a pass only team, Tay Cooper now has back-to-back 100 yard rushing games for the Pirates. I think Marshall jumps out early, though ECU will come up with some huge stops on defense to give Carden the ball last for the win.

AROD's Sharp Pick: ECU 33 Marshall 30

MinerRush C-USA Players of the Week:

Offense: Gator Hoskins, Marshall

Defense: Darnell Walker, Tulsa

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