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Week 11: Miner Rush's Conference USA Power Rankings

Well, I'm back and just in time for C-USA Power Rankings. These rankings are off for the first time this season because East Carolina and UAB have already played. ECU beat the Blazers 54-42 Thursday night. So, we'll adjust.

This has been a busy week, and a bad one to be so busy because of the key Miner events coming up. Of course, UTEP kicks off the basketball season tonight against Pacific in front of a sellout crowd at the Don. Tomorrow, a bowl eligible UTEP football team will travel to Fayetteville to take on the #15 Arkansas Razorbacks in a nationally televised game.

On to the rankings!

12. The Memphis Tigers (1-8, 0-5 C-USA)

Last Time: Lost to Tennessee 50-14

Stock: Same

Hot Seat, Already? The Memphis Commercial Appeal's Geoff Calkins is already heavily disappointed with the job Larry Porter is doing in his first season at the head coach of the Tigers.

The Vols are not very good; the Tigers are unspeakably awful. The Vols have an unproven first year coach; the Tigers have a coach who is proving to be a disaster. The Bols are at the bottom and headed back up; the Tigers are at the bottom and headed.... where exactly?

11. The Rice Owls (2-7, 1-4 C-USA)

Last Time: Lost to Tulsa 64-27

Stock Watch: Same

Scorched: Tulsa's Damaris Johnson obliterated the Rice defense and special teams en route to 322 total yards of offense. The Owls big win against Houston feels like a decade ago....

Next Up: at Tulane

10. Tulane Green Wave (3-6, 1-4 C-USA)

Last Time: Lost to USM 46-30

Stock: Down 2

The Future: Tulane lost to USM but they do seem to have found a future star in running back Orleans Darkwa. Orleans rushed 27 times for 138 yards with 2 touchdowns this week against the Eagles. Since he emerged against UTEP, Darkwa has rushed 77 times for 445 yards and has four touchdowns. That's an average of 148.3 yards per game rushing over the last three games for the freshman. At least there's hope in New Orleans with this kid in the program.

Next Up: vs. Rice

9. UAB Blazers

Stock: Down 3

Last Time: Lost to Marshall 31-17, Lost to ECU 54-42

3-7 Speaks Volumes: In October, UAB was flying high. The Blazers had just beaten UTEP, played a ranked Mississippi State team very close on the road, and beat USM on the road 50-49. Corner turned right? Not quite. The Blazers followed up those games with consecutive double digit losses to Marshall and ECU in East Division games. UAB joins Rice and Memphis as the only 3 C-USA schools that are mathematically eliminated from playing in a bowl game. The schedule (Rice, Memphis) gives UAB hope to finish the season on a high note. But, they've been so inconsistent it wouldn't surprise me of they lost one or both of those games.

Next Up: at Memphis

8. Marshall Thundering Herd

Stock: Up 1

Last time: Beat UAB 31-17

Buying In: Marshall really looks like a team that is buying into their new head coach's system. As I pointed out, Larry Porter isn't winning many fans over in year one. Holliday's bunch might be 2-3 in C-USA play but the Herd look like a team that is improving each week. That's really all you can ask from a first year head coach, right? With Memphis, SMU, and Tulane on the schedule, Marshall could feasibly win four of their last five.

Next Up: vs. Memphis

7. SMU

Stock: Down 3

Last Time: Lost at UTEP 28-14

Reason for Concern: At 5-5, SMU will have to beat Marshall, in two weeks, or East Carolina to get to six. SMU entered the season with dreams of a breakout year. When Case Keenum went down, SMU became the favorite in the West. SMU all of a sudden has lost 3 of 4 games and are in a very real fight to become bowl eligible. Amazingly, SMU's season can still end with a West title or by not even making a bowl.

Next Up: bye, vs. Marshall next week

6. UTEP Miners

Stock: Up 4

Last Time: Beat SMU 28-14

Back in Form? The UTEP team that started out 5-1 emerged from the darkness to handily beat SMU in El Paso. When the Miners play mistake free football, they have the talent to beat anybody in the C-USA outside Orlando. The bad news is that the Miners have to travel to Arkansas this week to take on a top 15 team. We're going to see the difference between Marshall, UAB, and Arkansas real quick. I'm just happy that UTEP seems to be going into this game at full speed again. Some might call me a homer for moving up UTEP to #6, but the Miners are bowl eligible, beat an SMU team that beat Tulsa, and showed that their defense might really be one of the best in the league.

Next Up: at #15 Arkansas

5. Southern Miss Golden Eagles

Stock: Up 2

Last Time: Beat Tulane 46-30

Next Up: at UCF

4. East Carolina

Stock: Down 1

Last Time: Lost to Navy 76-35, Beat UAB 54-42

The Seventy Sixers: I realize that the C-USA rankings are late this week and the Pirates already beat UAB this week but I can't get over the Pirates giving up 76 points to Navy. That's a lot of points against a team that doesn't care for the forward pass. East Carolina's offense is as good as they get, but that defense just gives up too much.

Next Up: at Rice

3. Tulsa Golden Hurricane

Stock: Up 2

Last Time: Beat Rice 64-27

What Happens If? Tulsa, winners of three in a row, might be the C-USA's hottest team. What happens if Tulsa beats Houston this week? That would put SMU, Houston, and Tulsa all at 4-2 in conference play. Houston would have beat SMU; SMU would have beat Tulsa; and Tulsa would have beat Houston. Before my head explodes, I'll wait to see how the UH/TU clash concludes.

Next Up: at Houston

2. Houston

Last time: Lost to UCF 33-40

Stock: Same

Keenum or Piland? It's been reported that Case Keenum will seek a 6th year of eligibility at Houston. But, if it is granted, will his presence stunt the development of David Piland? I realize Piland tossed 2 picks in the UCF loss, but he has shown tons of promise in the early going of his young career. The frosh from Southlake has 15 touchdowns to only 3 interceptions in his 5 starts. The SMU loss to UTEP keeps Houston in control of their own destiny in the C-USA West. So, the Mustangs will be rooting hard for the Hurricane this week.

Next Up: vs. Tulsa

1. UCF (7-2, 5-0)

Last time: Beat Houston 40-33

Stock: Same

A League of Their Own: For the first several weeks of the season, I was worried about UCF's offensive limitations with frosh QB Jeff Godfrey at QB. That isn't a realistic concern anymore. In the Knights win over Houston, the coaches took the training wheels off and let Godfrey air it out. Godfrey tossed for nearly 300 yards and two touchdowns. The Knights,, right now, are the clear favorites to win the C-USA Championship (way to state the obvious, right?)

Next Up: vs. USM