Two weeks down in the college football season, and another ten to go. Still though, nothing decided in Conference USA. Those who looked strong in week 1, didn't exactly look as good in week 2, and others who were weak, took advantage of opportunities to state their case.
So here were are, two weeks in, and not a single team in the conference is left with a goose egg in the loss column. In fact, half the league still has a goose egg in the win column. It's been ugly, and this wasn't easy, but here are the way the Conference USA Football Power Rankings shake out, heading into week 3.
12. Memphis Tigers (0-2) Last: (L) @ Arkansas State, Up Next: vs. Middle Tennessee
The Tigers nearly pulled themselves out of the dog house on Saturday, as they held a lead against Arkansas State heading into the 4th quarter. But, the defense couldn't hold and the offense couldn't answer, and Memphis went away with a 33-28 loss. While the score was close, the truth is the game wasn't. ASU racked up over 600 yards of total offense, including 300+ on the ground, and 300+ through the air. A missed FG and turnover on downs deep in Memphis territory kept this one close. Up next, is an opportunity for the Tigers to rebound at home against Middle Tennessee. If they can't pick up the win though, don't look for things to get any better from there.11. Tulane Green Wave (0-2, 0-1) Last: (L) @ Tulsa, Up Next: vs. Ole Miss
Thoughts and prayers go out to Tulane S Devon Walker and his family. The senior defensive back fractured his neck in Saturday's game, and reports were that he had to be revived on the field. He is now in stable condition, and it is still unclear whether he is paralyzed or not.
On the field, the Green Wave were absolutely run over by the Hurricane. The final score read 45-10 Tulsa, and the Wave only managed 177 yards of total offense, including 7 yards rushing. Up next for Tulane is a home matchup with Ole Miss, and then another home date with Louisiana-Monroe, who just knocked off then #8 Arkansas.
10. Houston Cougars (0-2) Last: (L) vs. Louisiana Tech, Up Next: @ #22 UCLA
The Cougars move up a spot from last week's ranking after showing a bit of life at home against Louisiana Tech on Saturday. One thing should be noted though, this was Tech's season opener, and they managed 600 yards of total offense, and 56 points, on the road. Houston's offense did come to life though, putting up nearly 700 yards of their own (580 passing from David Piland). However, it's going to be tough to beat people when giving up almost 60 points. After two weeks of facing WAC opponents, the Cougars rank 118th in the FBS in points against. Up next, is a road trip to take on a peaking UCLA squad. That game will give us a better sense of how much this team is actually progressing.
9. UAB Blazers (0-1) Last: BYE, Up Next: @ #8 South Carolina
The Blazers hold steady in their 9 spot after having a bye in week 2. But, now begins a tough road swing that features games at #8 South Carolina, and #12 Ohio State in back to back weeks. If anything, this should be a good learning experience for the Blazers heading into conference play the week after.
8. UTEP Miners (0-2) Last: (L) @ Ole Miss, Up Next: vs. New Mexico State
There's no way around it. The Miners put up an extremely disappointing performance on the road against Ole Miss on Saturday. The defense was absolutely stifled, and allowed the Rebels to move up and down the field at will. Granted, they only gave up 28 points, but they allowed 540 yards of total offense, including 332 on the ground. The offense, which was given plenty of opportunities, was simply unable to capitalize. Now after two weeks, they've only managed 10 total points. If something doesn't change soon, things could be heading south in a hurry. This week UTEP will have an opportunity to rebound against New Mexico State. This is a rivalry game, and NMSU isn't terrible, but if the Miners can't get things going in this game, its hard to believe they'll do it in any other.
7. SMU Mustangs (1-1) Last: (W) vs. Stephen F. Austin, Up Next: vs. Texas A&M
The Mustangs rebounded against Stephen F. Austin, a week after getting it handed to them in Waco. However, I wouldn't say SMU has got everything figured out. SFA gave up 10 turnovers to the Mustangs, and something tells me that has more to do with SFA's poor play, than it does SMU's great play. The Mustangs scored 28 points on defense and special teams, but offensively, they managed only 17 first downs, 328 total yards, and were forced to punt 7 times. SMU has got some serious issues to figure out, and they'll have to do it in a hurry. Up next are games against Texas A&M and #21 TCU. If things are straightened out soon, the next two weeks could bring results similar to those in week 1.
6. Rice Owls (1-1) Last: (W) @ Kansas, Up Next: @ Louisiana Tech
The Owls move up a couple spots in the rankings after their road win over Big 12 opponent Kansas, but I hesitate to put them up any further, for now. After all, we're talking about a Kansas team that was up 7 points on South Dakota State midway through the 4th a week before. Still though, the Owls showed a ton of poise, coming back from 11 points down late in the 3rd quarter, and are not a team to be taken lightly heading into conference. Up next, Rice travels to take on Louisiana Tech in Ruston, and will then open up conference play with Marshall and Houston at home in the following weeks. If they're going to make a move in C-USA, we'll know fairly soon.
5. Southern Miss. Golden Eagles (0-1) Last: BYE, Up Next: vs. ECU
Like UAB, the Golden Eagles maintained their spot in the rankings through the bye week. This week they'll open up conference play at home, against ECU. That game should tell us a ton about where both of these teams are at. USM will have Western Kentucky after that, but will then open a stretch of games that features Louisville, Boise State, UCF, and Marshall. Wins aren't going to come easy around here.
4. East Carolina Pirates (1-1) Last: (L) #8 South Carolina, Up Next: @ Southern Miss
The Pirates drop back a couple spots after a poor performance against South Carolina. Granted, the Gamecocks are a top 10 team, but the Pirates never even had a shot, and went down 35 points before finally getting on the board late in the 3rd quarter. They managed better than 400 yards of total offense, but they also gave up 5 turnovers, and just couldn't get the run game going. Three of the next four games for the Pirates are on the road, against Southern Miss, North Carolina, and UCF. If they're going to step forward as one of the better teams in Conference USA, it's going to have to start this week.
3. Marshall Thundering Herd (1-1) Last: (W) vs. Western Carolina, Up Next: vs. Ohio
The Thundering Herd got one in the win column on Saturday, knocking off Western Carolina 52-24. Truth is, it wasn't even that close. For the second week in a row, the Herd have managed better than 500 yards of offense. This time, the total was 615, as sophomore QB Rakeem Cato threw for 377 yards and 3 touchdowns, on 32 of 42 passing, and the run game picked up another 185 yards. Marshall is currently 1st in the FBS in passing yards, and is still averaging nearly 160 yards on the ground per game. Up next for the Herd is a home game against a tough Ohio team, and then they'll hit the road to take on Rice and Purdue. Look for Marshall to keep making a push up these rankings.
2. Tulsa Golden Hurricane (1-1, 1-0) Last: (W) vs. Tulane, Up Next: vs. Nichols State
The Golden Hurricane made the biggest jump in this week's rankings, moving up 4 spots from number 6 last week. Truth is, they probably deserved to be higher a week ago, but it just wasn't justified with those 3 disappointing quarters at Iowa State. In Saturday's win over Tulane, the Hurricane racked up 651 yards of total offense, and more than 350 on the ground. Cody Green was also much improved, going 16-26 for 274 yards, 2 touchdowns, and no interceptions. Over the next three weeks, Tulsa has games against Nichols State, Fresno State, and UAB. They should have plenty of time to fine tune things before heading to Marshall on October 6th. That one may just be a preview of the Conference USA championship.
1. Central Florida Knights (1-1) Last: (L) @ #12 Ohio State, Up Next: vs. Florida International
The Knights get a free pass here, and stay in their number one spot after losing to #12 Ohio State on the road. A couple of things should be noted though. First, this game was 31-10 late in the 3rd, before UCF tacked on a TD to make things look more respectable. Second, the Knight rushing attack, which looked magnificent against a terrible Akron team in week 1, looked mediocre at best against a real defense (103 yards on the ground). Third, Blake Bortles passed for 249 yards, but also threw three interceptions, and racked up nearly 100 of his yards in garbage time. Bottom line, UCF is number 1 by default, and far from being much better than the rest. The good news for them is they now have four straight contests at home against FIU, Missouri, ECU, and Southern Miss. None will be easy, but if they truly are the best team in conference, they should have a great chance to pick up all four.