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Conference USA Football Power Rankings: Week 7

The week marks the half way point of the college football season. Lets see where the C-USA stack up in this week's Power Rankings

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport
14. Southern Miss. Golden Eagles (0-5, 0-1) Last: (L) 24-23 Vs. FIU, Up Next: Bye

Another loss, this time against bottom brother FIU, they gave up 341 total yards to the Panthers. The have to greet this bye week with open arms, though their losing streak will add on more days with the time off. They have two weeks to get ready for Shane Carden and ECU. Good luck with that Golden Eagle Fan.

13. FIU Golden Panthers (1-4, 1-0) Last: (W) 24-23 @ So. Miss, Up Next: Vs. UAB

The Panthers finally move out of the 14th spot with their first C-USA win. Freshman Silas Spearman III rushed for 136 yards and two touchdowns and Austin Taylor kicked a 27-yard field goal with 6 minutes, 53 seconds, left in the game that gave the Golden Panthers a 24-23 victory over the Golden Eagles. The rest of the schedule is all C-USA play, a 1-0 start is a good way to start the conference season but a win versus UAB is needed to salvage their terrible 0-4 start.

12. UTEP Miners (1-4, 0-2) Last: (L) 38-35 Vs. LA Tech, Up Next: Vs. Tulsa

UTEP ranks near the bottom in the nation in rushing defense. Things will not get easier this week with Trey Watts coming to El Paso. UTEP lacks depth on defense and will continue to struggle unless the offense can continue its solid start that has kept them in games. A 1-5 start will have fans looking towards basketball. A must win lightly describes this week game as the Miners will try to avoid a six game home losing streak with a loss against Tulsa

11. UAB Blazers (1-4, 0-1) Last: (L) 37-23 Vs FAU, Up Next: @ FIU

The Blazer defense gave up over 500 yards of offense to a decent FAU team, but UAB should not have lost that game. I really thought they could get it together and compete but the defense is just horrible. Good chance to grab a win this week, though their next five games could be all losses.

A-ROD's Sharp Pick: UAB 34 FIU 31

10. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (2-4, 1-1) Last: (W) 38-35 @ UTEP, Up Next: Bye

Huge win against UTEP should give them confidence going forward and get Dixon going with some confidence. If they can beat North Texas after their week off this weekend, LA Tech may make a little run. Defense is going to be the key for them, UTEP was able to move the ball well for the most part, so LA Tech will have to improve in that department in order to string some W's together.

9. Florida Atlantic Owls (2-4, 1-3) Last: (W) 37-23 @ UAB, Up Next: Vs. Marshall

After three straight positive performances, the Owls finally managed to get their first C-USA win. The offense was insanely balanced with Jaquez Johnson piling up a career-high 404 yards of total offense and accounted for three touchdowns. More of that production will be needed the Owl's schedule is tough the next two weeks, though the confidence of playing good football the past couple weeks might carry over.

8. UTSA Roadrunners (2-4, 1-1) Last: (L) 34-10 @ Marshall, Up Next: Vs. Rice

The Roadrunners have been brought back to reality after their opening conference win. The absence of Kam Jones clearly hurt the flow of their offense and in my opinion is why Soza struggled so much. A huge opportunity to shake up the C-USA looms this week against an improved Rice team. If the Runners lose this week, like a lot of other C-USA west teams, their season is pretty much over after a promising start.

7. Tulsa Golden Hurricane (1-4, 0-1) Last: (L) 30-27 OT Vs. Rice, Up Next: @ Rice

Another disappointing loss, Rice looked they would run away with this one early, though Tulsa and the defense finally woke up in the 2nd half. If Tulsa can translate the 2nd half play against Rice this week they should not have a problem with UTEP's 120th ranked run defense. They shut down Rice's offense in the games final 30 minutes with the exception of the final play of overtime. Are the defensive issues squared away to lead them on a late season run, or will the disappointment continue?

AROD's Sharp Pick: TULSA 48 UTEP 35

6. North Texas Mean Green (2-3, 0-1) Last: (L) 24-21 @ Tulane, Up Next: Vs. MTSU

Losing by a field goal as time expires is one of the most heartbreaking feats in football. North Texas will look to bounce back from that loss against Tulane with another tough match up this week. The Mean Green's Derek Thompson connected with Brandin Byrd for a 1-yard score and Darnell Smith on a 62-yard bomb as North Texas used two fourth quarter touchdowns to tie the game at 21 with 3:45 left, which ultimately only served to set up the Tulane heroics. They played well defensively only giving up 227 total yard, but they will have to do a better job of taking care of the ball on offense.

5. Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (3-3, 1-1) Last: (L) 24-17 Vs. ECU, Up Next: @ North Texas

Logan Kilgore somewhat rebounded last week after a poor effort against BYU. They played ECU very well despite giving 511 total yards. The Blue Raiders got the ball with 5:16 remaining following a missed field goal by Warren Harvey, but Logan Kilgore was intercepted by Damon Magazu on the next play. East Carolina milked the remaining five minutes on the clock during the ensuing series, driving 42 yards on 11 plays and converting three times on third down. This weeks game against North Texas is important for both teams, this is my C-USA game of the week.

AROD's Sharp Pick: North Texas 27 MTSU 23

4. Tulane Green Wave (4-2, 2-0) Last: (W) 24-21 Vs. North Texas, Up Next: Vs. ECU

Tulane has been the surprise team of the C-USA. Playing a favorable schedule may have played a role into that. We will really find out how far they have came this week against ECU. They have been pretty decent on defense, but I think their struggles with moving the ball against good teams will continue this weekend. Nick Montana has finally found a school where he can play and show his skills. An upset of ECU will really shake up the power rankings.

3. Rice Owls (3-2, 2-0) Last: (W) 30-27 OT @ Tulsa, Up Next: @ UTSA

After a fast first half, the Owl's offensive woes would return in the second half. Although they rank 36th overall in the FBS in rushing and can really get on a roll if they can hold off a hard fighting UTSA. McHargue needs to step up and put up yards if the Owls want to compete at the top of the west. Running back Charles Ross has had a decent year so far, they need him to continually contribute to be successful.

AROD's Sharp Pick: Rice 38 UTSA 24

2. Marshall Thundering Herd (3-2, 1-0) Last: (W) 34-10 Vs. UTSA, Up Next: @ FAU

Marshall continues to improve defensively heading into a relatively easy stretch of their schedule. They rank 19th in the FBS in points allowed, and combine that with the continued solid play of Rakeem Cato, the Herd will be unstoppable until a Nov. 29 matchup with ECU. FAU is not to be overlooked, so lets how they handle back-to-back road conference games.

AROD's Sharp Pick: Marshall 52 FAU 17

1. East Carolina Pirates (4-1, 2-0) Last: (W) 24-17 @ MTSU, Up Next: @ Tulane

East meets west when ECU travels to the Superdome this week against Tulane. The Pirates will play in that building for the third time in their last nine games (R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl appearance last December). ECU won over Tulane 38-23 last year, which was the Pirates fifth straight victory in the series. Both teams enter the game sitting in first place in their respective divisions with 2-0 league ledgers. East Carolina ranks second in Conference USA in total offense and total defense, while an opportunistic Tulane team leads the FBS in turnovers forced with 18 (11 interceptions, seven forced fumbles).

AROD's Sharp Pick: ECU 55 Tulane 28

Miner Rush C-USA Players of the Week:

Offense: LA Tech's Kenneth Dixon

Defense: UTEP's Richard Spencer

Special Teams: Tulane's Cairo Santos