Week 6 helped us to sort things out just a little more in Conference USA. Houston proved that they are the top team, while sending ECU to the back of the line after a 56-3 win in Houston. UCF got back to its winning ways by dropping Marshall, and Southern Miss had a huge blowout win over Navy. Oh, and just in case we weren't absolutely sure as to who the worst team in conference is; Memphis just got handled by Rice. Here are the week 7 power rankings in Conference USA.
1. #22 Houston Cougars (6-0, 2-0) Last Week: (W) vs. ECU, This Week: BYE
The Cougars were a bit lucky to make it to 5-0, but there was no luck involved in getting them to 6-0. They absolutely dominated ECU, as Kase Keenum was a pedestrian 30-37 for 307 yards and three TDs. The Cougar defense held the Pirates to only 284 yards of total offense, and only 21 yards on the ground. Houston has the week off before home games against Marshall and Rice, and then road games against UAB and Tulane. There is absolutely no reason that this team shouldn't be 10-0 in a few weeks. From there its up to them, but dare I say BC_, nevermind I won't say it yet.2. Southern Miss Golden Eagles (5-1, 1-1) Last Week: (W) at Navy, This Week: BYE
Others may not feel the same, but for me putting up 63 points at Navy is a statement. The 63 points given up by Navy were the most points surrendered since 2002. QB Austin Davis was 21/23 for 283 yards and 3 TDs, as Southern Miss rolled 63-35. Like Houston, Southern Miss has this week off to rest and get healthy for the meat of their conference schedule. Unlike Houston, the Golden Eagles have landmines littered throughout the rest of their schedule as they take on SMU at home, then UTEP and ECU on the road, and UCF at home, before ending with UAB and Memphis.
3. SMU Mustangs (4-1, 2-0) Last Week: BYE, This Week: vs. UCF
The Mustangs had the week off last week, and it actually hurt them in the power rankings as they fell from 2 to 3. I know they beat TCU, but come on TCU was ranked only because of what they did last year, and not what they've done this year. TCU has now beat Air Force, Louisiana-Monroe, Portland St., and SDSU, and they have lost to Baylor and SMU. The Mustangs will have their shot to overtake USM, but right now the Golden Eagles are just rolling. The Mustangs come off the bye week and into a home matchup with UCF. They then hit the road for games against Southern Miss and Tulsa. If they can win those three, not only will they jump Southern Miss, they may just jump Houston as well.
4. UCF Knights (3-2, 1-0) Last Week: (W) vs. Marshall, This Week: @ SMU
Ok, all is not lost for the Knights. UCF faced Marshall on Saturday and did win 16-6. The offense only put up 380 yards of total offense, but they held Marshall to only 130. Although, in my opinion, beating Marshall at home 16-6 isn't a great win, it is a bounce back from the two straight losses they had before that. The Knights now hit the road for games against SMU and UAB, then return home to face Memphis and Tulsa. I'd say at least three of those games are very winnable.
5. Tulsa Golden Hurricane (2-3, 1-0) Last Week: BYE, This Week: vs. UAB
It hurts me to keep putting Tulsa this high in the power rankings. I'm not saying that they aren't this good, I'm saying that I have no idea how good they are. They have wins over Tulane and North Texas, and losses against Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., and Boise St. Up next are games against UAB and Rice, then we finally get to see the Hurricane play someone we can gauge them against in SMU. They will also play UCF, Marshall, UTEP, and Houston to end the season, so they'll have their chance to either fold in the clutch, or possibly even win the West. We'll just have to keep waiting.
6. Marshall Thundering Herd (2-4, 1-1) Last Week: (L) @ UCF, This Week: vs. Rice
The youth of the Thundering Herd will likely cause them to finish worse than 6th in Conference USA, but wins over Southern Miss and Louisville show that they can give anyone a scare. This week they take on Rice at home, before hitting the road to face Houston. They'll also have road games against Tulsa and Memphis, sandwiched by home games against UAB and ECU to end the season. The Herd will have their chances to make bowl eligibility, but they just can't afford to give any more away at this point.
7. UTEP Miners (2-3, 0-2) Last Week: BYE, This Week: @ Tulane
The Miners will have had 15 days to heal up between playing Houston tough in the Sun Bowl, and taking on Tulane in the Superdome. Injuries have taken their toll on this team, and with nearly everyone back close to 100% we may see this team's full potential. It has to start with a win at Tulane. The Miners are 2-3, but have won the ones they should've won, and lost the ones they should've lost. After the road game at Tulane, they'll return home for games against Colorado St., and Southern Miss. They also face Rice, ECU, Tulsa, and UCF to end the season, with the middle two being at home. This team is certainly finding themselves at the right time, and if the defense can perform at the level that they should, 4 or 5 more wins is definitely doable.
8. Rice Owls (2-3, 1-1) Last Week: (W) vs. Memphis, This Week: @ Marshall
The Owls are coming off a 28-6 win over Memphis. It wasn't the prettiest of wins, but they got it done and now move on to face Marshall in Huntington, WV. A win on the road over Marshall could go a long way for the Owls, but a loss would give them 4 on the season, and leave a tough slate in Tulsa, Houston, UTEP, Northwestern, Tulane, and SMU. I'm not sure how many people actually expected the Owls to make it to a bowl game this year, but they've got to start winning games in a hurry, or those hopes will be absolutely dashed.
9. ECU Pirates (1-4, 1-1) Last Week: (L) @ Houston, This Week: @ Memphis
Remember when ECU used to play top 15 teams down to the wire? Yeah, well they just lost 56-3 at Houston. And while Houston is certainly a good team, losing 56-3 says that you certainly are not. I'm not exactly sure where the wheels fell off for the Pirates, but its looking worse and worse every week. Don't call em dead just yet, just say they're on life support. They face Memphis, Navy, and Tulane in their next three, and two of those are very winnable. Win all three, and you're sitting at 4-4 with Southern Miss, UTEP, UCF, and Marshall to go.
10. Tulane Green Wave (2-4, 1-1) Last Week: (L) vs. Syracuse, This Week: vs. UTEP
I have to say that I absolutely expected the result that we saw this weekend. While losing to Syracuse 37-34 doesn't seem so bad, it doesn't seem so good either. Even Rhode Island only lost to Syracuse by 7, which wouldn't be so bad if this was basketball. Anyway, Tulane now takes on UTEP at home this week, and while Tulane can definitely show up and win this game, I like my Miners' chances. After UTEP, Tulane has Memphis, ECU, SMU, Houston, Rice, and Hawaii to end the season. I'm thinking 4 wins at best. And remember, that would be 4-9, as Tulane played a 13 game schedule this season.
11. Memphis Tigers (1-5, 0-2) Last Week: (L) @ Rice, This Week: vs. ECU
Ok, so they're the worst team in conference, and there's no reason that Memphis should be put ahead of UAB in the power rankings. But, at the same time, there's really no reason that UAB should be put ahead of Memphis. At least Memphis has a win. On Saturday the Tigers got handled by Rice, and can probably expect more of the same this weekend against ECU. But, as I was tracking the game on Saturday, I noticed that Andy Summerlin got a chance in the 3rd and 4th quarters. He went 9 of 13 for 135 yards. True freshman starter Taylor Reed was 15-30 for 107 yards and 2 picks. Memphis will still be a cellar dweller in C-USA regardless of who is at QB, but if they decide to make a switch, we may see them become a little more competitive.
12. UAB Blazers (0-5, 0-2) Last Week: (L) vs. Mississippi St.,This Week: @ Tulsa
I can say that coming into the season, no one expected UAB to be in this spot. But, after an 0-5 start, they really don't belong anywhere else. They are at Tulsa, at home against UCF, at Marshall, and at home against Houston in their next 4. This team may be 0-9, before taking on Memphis for the battle of 11th in C-USA. I'm sure UAB fans are just happy to see Memphis and Florida Atlantic still on the schedule.