Last week Southern Miss benefited from SMU's bye week, jumping the Mustangs after a solid win over Navy. This week, as the Golden Eagles were off, SMU had the opportunity to return the favor with a big win over UCF. Mission accomplished. In the biggest story of week 7, UCF's "amazing defense" was finally exposed, as they fell 38-17 to SMU. Marshall picked up a last minute win over Rice, UTEP stomped Tulane in the Big Easy, East Carolina got back to winning against lowly Memphis, and Tulsa made sure UAB stayed winless, handing the Blazers a 37-20 loss. How does it all affect the C-USA Power Rankings? Find out here, with the Rush's Week 8 Power Rankings.
1. #19 Houston Cougars (6-0, 2-0) Last Week: BYE, This Week: vs. Marshall
Was there really any question? I mean SMU's win was big, but not that big. The Cougars are still undefeated and are ranked no. 19 in the initial BCS rankings. They had a week off to rest and now get Marshall and Rice at home in the next two. After those two practice sessions, they get two more at UAB and Tulane, before facing SMU in what should decide the C-USA West race. Don't expect anything to change up here on top for at least four more weeks.
2. SMU Mustangs (5-1, 3-0) Last Week: (W) vs. UCF, This Week: @ Southern Miss
Last week Southern Miss jumped SMU while the ponies were on a break, so its only fair that SMU should get their spot back this week. But, don't expect them to hold on to it for long. The Mustangs face Southern Miss this week in what should be one of the best games in C-USA all season. This game may be for second place, but it pairs two teams that are truly peaking. SMU will have another tough road test next week at Tulsa, before taking on Tulane at home. The Mustangs then play Navy, at Houston, and Rice to end the season. These guys have got a tough road ahead of them.
3. Southern Miss Golden Eagles (5-1, 1-1) Last Week: BYE, This Week: vs. SMU
The Golden Eagles lost their no. 2 spot to SMU, but will have a chance to get it right back as they take on the Mustangs at home this week. Before the bye week, USM pounded Navy 63-35, and the Golden Eagles have really seemed to find the rhythm everyone thought they'd have coming into the season. If not for a tough slip up in week 2, these guys could be right there with Houston at 6-0. After SMU, the Golden Eagles hit the road to take on UTEP and ECU, then have UCF and Memphis at home with a trip to UAB between those. If the Golden Eagles just take care of business, they'll have C-USA East in their back pocket.
4. Tulsa Golden Hurricane (3-3, 2-0) Last Week: (W) vs. UAB, This Week: @ Rice
Ughh. Every week I say how I hate putting Tulsa this high in the rankings, but where else can I put them? The Hurricane put away another easy opponent on Saturday, and now have Rice this week. I'd expect them to do to Rice what they did to UAB. But, we'll see what happens after that as they have SMU, @ UCF, Marshall, @ UTEP, and Houston to end the season.
5. UCF Knights (3-3, 1-1) Last Week: (L) @ SMU, This Week: @ UAB
Coming into the season I still had a lot of questions about the Knights. I certainly was not ready to re-crown them as C-USA champs. Those questions seemed to be answered after two opening wins over Charleston Southern and Boston College, but they've been brought right back up as the Knights are now 3-3, losing to every decent or good team they've faced. The defense that has been praised as "one of the best in the nation" was exposed against SMU as the Mustangs passed for 358 yards and 2 TDs against them, and put up 38 points. The Knights will have a chance to take out their frustrations on UAB and Memphis the next two weeks, before finishing up with Tulsa, @ Southern Miss, @ ECU, and UTEP to end the season. There's certainly a chance to win 7 games, but there's also the possibility of losing 7 as well. We'll see.
6. UTEP Miners (3-3, 1-2) Last Week: (W) @ Tulane, This Week: vs. Colorado St.
This may be one position too high for the Miners, but they certainly deserve it after dominating Tulane on the road. This Miner team is playing with a ton of heart, pride, and intensity, and are in a position to turn the corner here midway through the season. Up next, is a very winnable homecoming game against Colorado St., before a tough home matchup with Southern Miss. The Miners then have @ Rice, East Carolina, Tulsa, and @ UCF to end the season. I like their chances for 6 wins, possibly even 7.
7. Marshall Thundering Herd (3-4, 2-1) Last Week: (W) vs. Rice, This Week:@ Houston
If Marshall would've taken care of business against Rice, they would've maintained their no. 6 spot. But, needing a last minute TD to beat the Owls at home, paired with UTEP's blowout of Tulane on the road, allows for the switch. Marshall now heads to take on the top team in conference, the Houston cougars. We'll just mark that one down as a loss, and look at the way they end the season. The Herd has UAB at home, Tulsa and Memphis on the road, and then East Carolina at home to finish it off the season. Their bowl hopes may come down to that season ender with the Pirates.
8. East Carolina Pirates (2-4, 2-1) Last Week: (W) @ Memphis, This Week: @ Navy
Ok, so the Pirates took care of Memphis, but are you really ready to put them back in the C-USA mix? I'm not sold yet. But, take care of Navy on the road this week, and then we'll talk. After Navy, ECU gets Tulane and Southern Miss at home, UTEP on the road, UCF at home, and Marshall at home to end it all. The Pirates aren't dead to a bowl yet, but if they lose to Navy, they'll be clinging to life support.
9. Rice Owls (2-4, 1-2) Last Week: (L) @ Marshall, This Week: vs. Tulsa
The Owls hung tough in a road game at Marshall last week, but still fell a bit short. Unfortunately for the Owls, they've got this lineup remaining on the schedule: Tulsa, @ Houston, UTEP, @ Northwestern, Tulane, and @ SMU. Now, Tulsa still hasn't proven much, and UTEP hasn't turned the corner just yet, but all things considered, the Owls are probably looking at a 3-9 finish.
10. Tulane Green Wave (2-5, 1-2) Last Week: (L) vs. UTEP, This Week: vs. Memphis
Things aren't going so easy in the big easy, as Tulane has dropped four straight, and can only afford one more loss if they'd like to become bowl eligible. UTEP blew out the Wave 44-7 on Saturday, and now Memphis makes its way into the Superdome in a showdown of two of the worst teams in C-USA. Tulane should be able to get past Memphis, but if I was a betting man (which I am), I'd bet the house that Tulane doesn't make a bowl this year. After Memphis, they finish up @ ECU, @ SMU, vs. Houston, @ Rice, and @ Hawaii. Pretty tough stretch there.
11. Memphis Tigers (1-6, 0-3) Last Week: (L) vs. ECU, This Week: @ Tulane
Its been decided. As long as UAB is winless, the Tigers will stay in 11th position in the conference power rankings. The Tigers lost on Saturday to ECU 35-17, but were actually ahead at halftime. They now head to New Orleans to face Tulane, and even though the Tigers are expected to lose, they could put up a good fight. After Tulane, the Tigers are on the road @ UCF, then take on UAB and Marshall at home, before finishing @ Southern Miss.
12. UAB Blazers (0-6, 0-3) Last Week: (L) @ Tulsa, This Week: vs. UCF
The Blazers lost to Tulsa over the weekend, and now face UCF. If the Knights aren't good at all, the Blazers should have a shot. Unfortunately for the Blazers, the Knights are at least kinda good and will likely take their frustrations out on them. The Blazers then go to Marshall, return home to take on Houston, go to Memphis for the battle of the bottom, take on Southern Miss at home, and then finish up on the road at Florida Atlantic. Memphis is as bad as anyone, Marshall is beatable, and FAU is 0-6 on the season. So, the Blazers can probably count on 2 wins, possibly even 3. Still a huge letdown from all the expectations heading into the season.