After six weeks of college football, still only two teams in Conference USA are above .500. The good news is, we do know who the best teams in the league are. Tulsa, is easily head and shoulders above the pack, while UCF is just a bit behind them. Those two will duke it out November 17th to decide who is truly better, but for now, here are the Conference USA Football Power Rankings for Week 7.
12. Tulane Green Wave (0-5, 0-1) Last: (L) @ Louisiana-Lafayette, Up Next: vs. SMU
Last Saturday, Tulane lost at Louisiana-Lafayette 41-13, managed only 11 first downs and 226 yards of total offense. On the season, the Green Wave are now losing games by an average of 42-9, and there's no relief in sight. Up next, they'll take on a confident SMU squad who just picked up a big road win, and then they'll hit the road to take on UTEP, before returning home to face UAB. Looking at things objectively, its hard to predict that the Green Wave will even pick up a single win this year. If it is going to happen, things are going to have to turn around extremely quickly.
11. Southern Miss. Golden Eagles (0-5, 0-1) Last: (L) vs. #24/22 Boise State, Up Next: @ UCF
After nearly coming up with the upset over nationally ranked Louisville about 10 days ago, Southern Miss turned around and got pummeled by Boise State 40-14. Offensively the Golden Eagles are showing some improvement, as they outgained BSU 424 to 310, but at the same time they're having issues taking care of the football (5 turnovers to 1), and their defense is having issues stopping anyone. With UCF and Marshall coming up in the next two weeks, one can almost chalk those up as losses, but even if they are, they'll have plenty of opportunities to pick up some wins in the last five weeks of the season.
10. Rice Owls (1-5, 0-3) Last: (L) @ Memphis, Up Next: vs. UTSA
Saturday the Owls fell at Memphis, giving the Tigers their first win in nine tries. Granted, Taylor McHargue has been a bit banged up over the last couple weeks, but this team went from losing 54-51 to Marshall two weeks ago, the putting up only 14 points and 10 points against winless teams in the last two weeks. Even with McHargue in the lineup, the Owls still only managed 221 yards of total offense against Memphis. With an extremely confident UTSA team this week, and a road trip to Tulsa coming up, things could get real ugly for the Owls.
9. UTEP Miners (1-5, 0-2) Last: (L) vs. SMU, Up Next: @ Tulsa
Things have gone from bad to worse for the Miners. In fact, things have hit rock bottom. Following up a poor performance at ECU, the Miners laid an egg, at home against a struggling SMU team. This was the first time in the Mike Price era that the Miners had been shut out, and to make matters worse it came in the Sun Bowl. Thursday UTEP will have a road game against league leader Tulsa, and then they'll return home and hope to pick up a win over Tulane. But, if the Miners have completely let this season get away from them, even Tulane might be able to come in and give them a game.
8. Memphis Tigers (1-4, 1-0) Last: (W) vs. Rice, Up Next: @ ECU
The Tigers picked up a huge win Saturday, their first since October 22nd, 2011. Though they trailed the majority of the game, they were able to find a late touchdown that lifted them to the 14-10 win over Rice. The managed only 245 yards of total offense, but were finally able to get the run game going, racking up 164 rushing yards. They'll try to keep that going this week as they head to Greenville to take on East Carolina, before returning home to take on UCF. I wouldn't expect this win to spark any huge change for Memphis, but maybe it'll help them pick up a couple more before season's end.
7. UAB Blazers (1-4, 0-1) Last: (W) vs. Southeastern Louisiana, Up Next: @ Houston
The Blazers may have only picked up their first win of the season on Saturday, but they are a much better team than their record indicates. They have played competitive football, but have faced some stiff competition early on. Saturday's 52-3 demolition of Southeastern Louisiana shows that they've got the ability to get things going. Now, with the schedule loosening up, they just may be able to do that. If they can carry last week's momentum into Houston, they may have an opportunity to steal one on the road. And with ECU and Tulane to follow, the Blazers could have an opportunity to get this season on track.
6. SMU Mustangs (2-3, 1-0) Last: (W) @ UTEP, Up Next: @ Tulane
The Mustangs picked up a much needed win at UTEP on Saturday. They racked up 22 first downs to UTEP's 13, and also had 372 yards of total offense compared to the Miners' 285 en route to a 17-0 win. That vicotry now gives the Mustangs an opportunity to get back to .500 this week at Tulane, and then potentially an opportunity to get above .500 next week vs. Houston. And, with Memphis, Southern Miss, and Rice still on the schedule, SMU may just have a chance to go bowling after all.
5. East Carolina Pirates (3-3, 2-1) Last: (L) @ UCF, Up Next: vs. Memphis
Some might argue that the Pirates deserve to be higher on this list, but the truth is they don't. They got by a struggling UTEP team at home to get to 3-2, but turned around and got steamrolled at UCF last Thursday. While the stats weren't too much in favor of the Knights, the score was. The Pirates fell 40-20 in one that many expected to be a lot closer. Up next is a home matchup with Memphis, before hitting the road to take on UAB. ECU is still in good shape to make a bowl game, but that might change if they happen to lose this week.
4. Marshall Thundering Herd (2-4, 1-1) Last: (L) vs. Tulsa, Up Next: @ Southern Miss
The Herd fell in another hard fought contest, this time at home against Tulsa. Marshall outgained the Hurricane 572 to 340, and picked up 26 first downs to Tulsa's 18, while holding them to only 90 yards passing, but the telling statistic was the Herd's 3 turnovers to Tulsa's 1. In fact, that has been the downfall of the Herd all season, as they have a -7 turnover margin on the year. Marshall now heads to Hattiesburg to take on Southern Miss before returning home to take on UCF. If they are going to make a run at a bowl game, winning both of those game would certainly help.
3. Houston Cougars (2-3, 1-0) Last: (W) vs. North Texas, Up Next: vs. UAB
Ok, so maybe this is a bit high for the Cougars to be on this list, but the bottom line is that there aren't many teams in C-USA who are playing better football than them at this point. Over the last two weeks, they've outscored their opponents 79 to 35, and have put up nearly 1230 yards in doing so. This offense is rolling, and its going to be tough for anyone to stop them. This week the Cougars take on UAB at home, before games at SMU, versus, UTEP, and at ECU. Who knows, they might just find themselves at 6-3 before taking on Tulsa at home on November 10th.
2. Central Florida Knights (3-2, 1-0) Last: (W) vs. East Carolina, Up Next: vs. Southern Miss
The Knights picked up a much needed win last Thursday against ECU, and while they didn't dominate statistically, they took care of the Pirates 40-20. This week they'll finish up a four game homestand with a contest against Southern Miss, before hitting the road to take on Memphis and Marshall. The Knights should be able to handle both the Golden Eagles and the Tigers fairly easily, but that matchup with the Thundering Herd could have implications in Conference USA East.
1. Tulsa Golden Hurricane (5-1, 3-0) Last: (W) @ Marshall, Up Next: vs. UTEP
At this point, there is no question that the Golden Hurricane are the best team in Conference USA. They finished up a two game road swing with a solid win at Marshall on Saturday. They were outgained by the Herd, but were able to win the turnover battle, and the game 45-38. This week the Hurricane have a Thursday contest with a struggling UTEP squad, and will then have Rice at home before hitting the road to take on Arkansas. Right now, the win streak is at five, we'll see long Tulsa can keep it going for.