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Conference USA Football Power Rankings: Week 3

We're now two weeks into the 2013 college football season, and while we still don't know a ton, things are starting to take shape just a little as far as C-USA is concerned. Here are the rankings for week 3.

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

14. [7 pts] Florida International Panthers (0-2) - Last: (L) vs. UCF 38-0, Up Next: vs. Bethune-Cookman

Things didn't get any better for the Panthers in week two, as they were blanked on their home field by former Conference USA member UCF. FIU managed only 10 first down, and 176 total yards, and was forced to punt 10 times on the afternoon. Through two weeks, the Panthers rank dead last (125th) in the FBS in total offense, and 110th in total defense. They've got an opportunity to pick up a win this week at home against Bethune-Cookman, but after that awaits #7 Louisville.

GoHerd says: "Not sure how fair this is since they've faced two above average/good teams so far, but FIU looked awful against ucf this week. The game looked like NFL vs high school - nothing positive on either side of the ball in this game for FIU."

13. [11 pts] Florida Atlantic Owls (0-2, 0-1) - Last: (L) @ ECU 31-13, Up Next: @ South Florida

The Owls actually played a much better game against East Carolina than the score indicates. Their offense nearly matched the Pirates' in both first downs and total yards, however, FAU gave up four turnovers and turned the ball over on downs once, and that was the difference in the game. The Owls' defense did well to contain an offense that put up nearly 500 yards and 52 points in week one, but their offense just couldn't keep pace. Tough thing for the Owls is three of their next four contests are on the road. So, while their record might not say so, they aren't one to overlook in C-USA play.

MinerLeagueAROD says: "As bad as they have been, they held Shane Carden under 200 yards and haven't given up 40 points, but they still have a loooonng way to go."

12. [19 pts] Southern Miss. Golden Eagles (0-2) - Last: (L) @ #15 Nebraska 56-13, Up Next: @ Arkansas

The Golden Eagles are currently in the middle of a brutal three game road swing that will likely leave their season in shambles before even the midway point. Saturday they lost 56-13 at nationally ranked Nebraska, gave up nearly 500 yards to the Husker offense, and committed four turnovers (all interceptions). Through two games, Southern Miss has now given up 10 turnovers. They'll now prepare for trips to Arkansas and Boise State before returning home to take on FIU. They've really got to figure out how to better protect the ball if they don't want a repeat of 2012.

PaydirtRenzo says: "USM will be near the bottom of these rankings for the first 4 weeks it looks like. After dropping a game they should've won last week, they got blown out by Nebraska and will have to travel to Arkansas and Boise State next."

11. [28 pts] UAB Blazers (0-2) - Last: (L) @ #9 LSU 56-17, Up Next: vs. Northwestern St.

The Blazers fell behind early in Baton Rouge, trailing 28-0 after the first 15 minutes. They showed a little bit of fight to get it to 35-17 at the half, but they never really had a shot at the upset, eventually falling 56-17. The UAB offense has been fairly effective through two contests, but the defense just hasn't given them much help. They'll have a chance to get things going a bit in week 3 as they host Northwestern St., but they'll hit the road to wrap up their non-conference slate the week after that against Vanderbilt. We can't count the Blazers out yet, but they've got a long way to go if they want to avoid their 9th straight losing season.

MinerLeagueAROD says: "Tough game against LSU for the Blazers.When an LSU QB is able to pick apart your secondary you have problems, but their schedule will ease a bit once conference starts so we'll see if they Blazers can come back from a slow start."

10. [32 pts] UTEP Miners (0-1) - Last: (L) vs. New Mexico 42-35, Up Next: @ NMSU

The Miners failed to come up with a win in Sean Kugler's coaching debut, losing 42-35 in overtime against New Mexico. The offense performed well, totaling 399 yards, including 280 on the ground, but the defense just never found their way. They were torched by the Lobos, giving up 483 total yards, and a whopping 395 on the ground. If the defense can figure things out, the Miners can still make some noise out of the west, but if they can't, it'll be hard to beat anyone. They continue their favorable opening stretch with a trip to New Mexico State this weekend. If they're going to get things going, it has to happen now.

PaydirtRenzo says: "Well Rome wasn't built in a day. I think our Miner bias was showing when we expected UTEP to beat UNM in game 1 of a new regime. The Lobos have always been on about the same level as UTEP in terms of football. The difference was they had one season under a new head coach and one game on the season under their belts."

9. [35 pts] Tulane Green Wave (1-1) - Last: (L) vs. South Alabama 41-39, Up Next: @ La Tech

The Green Wave had a prime opportunity to get off to their first 2-0 start since 2002 (their last winning season), but they put themselves in a deep hole early, and were unable to complete the comeback. South Alabama jumped out to a 14-0 lead, and were up as many as 21 at 28-7 early in the second quarter. Tulane would nearly come all the way back, cutting the lead to 41-39 with 1:19 to go, but they were unable to convert their two point try, and that's how the game ended. South Alabama is no pushover, but giving up 465 yards to anyone usually won't get it done. The Wave now has three straight road games, starting with La Tech this week.

PaydirtRenzo says: "The Green Wave took a big step back by falling at home to new division 1 opponent South Alabama. A 28-7 hole was almost overcome, but you just can't start games that poorly and expect to win."

8. [47 pts] Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (1-1) - Last: (W) vs. Lamar 27-14, Up Next: vs. Tulane

The Bulldogs notched one in the win column this week, knocking off Lamar in not so impressive fashion 27-14. The Bulldogs managed 439 yards of total offense, but just weren't able to turn those yards into many points. Lamar actually only trailed by three with under ten minutes to play, but La Tech scored the game's final ten points, and sealed their first win of the season. Its still unclear just exactly how good the Bulldogs are, but they'll have to play much better than they have in the opening weeks if they want to have a chance at competing for a C-USA title. This week they'll take on Tulane at home.

PaydirtRenzo says: "The Bulldogs looked very unimpressive in a win against Lamar. They ran the ball well, but should've been able to put more points on the board against the Cardinals. We still don't know much about La Tech."

7. [56 pts] UTSA Roadrunners (1-1) - Last: (L) vs. #11 Oklahoma St. 56-35, Up Next: @ Arizona

The Roadrunners offense played about as well as anybody could've expected against Oklahoma State, putting up 504 yards of total offense and 35 points, but the truth is the final score isn't exactly telling of how this game actually went. After UTSA tied the game at seven late in the first quarter, the Cowboys reeled off 35 unanswered and led 42-7 heading into the fourth quarter. The Roadrunners actually accumulated about half of their total yards well after Ok State let their foot off the gas. UTSA could still be a potential contender out of the west, but that's still yet to be seen. They've got a chance to prove themselves this week against a pretty good Pac-12 school in Arizona.

GoHerd says: "Thought maybe they would turn the corner and battle the Pokes a little closer with 40K+ in the stands for their home opener, but their secondary is suspect, big game vs Houston will tell a lot about this team going forward."

T-5. [58 pts] Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (1-1) - Last: (L) @ North Carolina 40-20, Up Next: vs. Memphis

After dominating week one against Western Carolina, the Blue Raiders had a bit more of a struggle in week two. In fact, despite putting up more than 400 yards of total offense, they managed only 89 in the first half, and trailed 23-0 at the break. Middle Tennessee also committed four turnovers, and on the road against a quality opponent that just can't happen. This is still one of the better teams in C-USA West, but at this point there's nothing that separates this team from the 5 others behind the league's top two. They now take on Memphis and Florida Atlantic before facing BYU, ECU, and Marshall in a four week stretch. It could be tough for this team to string many wins together.

PaydirtRenzo says: "With the exception of penalties and turnovers, the Blue Raiders didn't exactly play terribly against UNC. They managed just 1 less first down and just over 400 yards of offense."

T-5 [58 pts] North Texas Mean Green (1-1) - Last: (L) @ Ohio, 27-21, Up Next: vs. Ball St.

The Mean Green had a real opportunity to pick up a quality road win, and step forward as a true contender in C-USA. But, they fell behind 21-7 early, and even though they clawed their way back to tie the game, they were unable to come up with the win. Aside from their four turnovers, the biggest problem was the Mean Green's inability to stop the Bobcats either through the air or on the ground. The defense gave up 442 yards of total offense; 239 passing, and 203 rushing. In a league of run heavy offenses, they've got to sure up that defense to truly be competitive. North Texas will now look to rebound at home against Ball State before hitting the road to take on #9 Georgia.

UTEP915 says: "North Texas is showing that they are going to be a tough out for everyone in the conference and could be a dark horse to win the west."

4. [60 pts] Rice Owls (0-1) - Last: BYE, Up Next: vs. Kansas

The Owls had a week off after their season opening loss to Texas A&M, and they'll now prepare for this weekend's matchup with Kansas. If the Owls are going to be a contender in C-USA this game is a must win. They simply can't afford an 0-2 start with a meeting with crosstown rival Houston looming after that.

3. [61 pts] Tulsa Golden Hurricane (1-1) - Last: (W) vs. Colorado State, Up Next: @ #13 Oklahoma

The Golden Hurricane make a huge jump in this week's rankings after picking up their first win of the season against Colorado State. Some might feel that third in the rankings might be a little high at this point, but frankly spots 3-7 are all interchangeable. Tulsa found their offense in week 2, with a balance performance that racked up 212 yards through the air and another 215 on the ground. And, despite allowing 27 points (14 came on great field position), the defense was much improved, allowing only nine first downs and holding the Rams to only 275 total yards. Tulsa still has a way's to go in getting back to their 2012 form, but Saturday's win was definitely a start. This week they'll have their hands full with nationally ranked Oklahoma.

GoHerd says: "Trey Watts finally got going but the defense clearly has issues after giving up 178 yards on the ground, well see how they good they really are this weekend vs Oklahoma."

2. [80 pts - 2 FPV] Marshall Thundering Herd (2-0) - Last: (W) vs. Gardner-Webb 55-0, Up Next: @ Ohio

There's not much to talk about here. The Herd rolled Gardner-Webb, like they were expected to, putting up more than 500 yards of total offense while holding the Runnin' Bulldogs to less than 200. There's no question that Marshall is one of the top teams in the league, but things will start to get tough as they've got back to back road games against Ohio and Virginia Tech. We know this team is good, now its time to find out how good.

GoHerd says: "We're now 2-0 for the first time since 1999 (thanks for the ludicrous scheduling in the 2000's, previous AD) and this was the first time since November 2003 that we held an opponent to zero points. Hard to tell just how much our defense has improved since last year, but over the past 3 quarters, we've scored 93 points and allowed none. I think #1 and #2 will be much more clear after next week when Marshall travels to Ohio and East Carolina hosts VT."

1. [82 pts - 4 FPV] East Carolina Pirates (2-0, 1-0) - Last: (W) vs. Florida Atlantic 31-13, Up Next: vs. Virginia Tech

The Pirates hold down their number one spot after picking up their first C-USA win against Florida Atlantic. It wasn't exactly a dominating offensive performance, managing only 16 first downs and 312 total yards, but ECU had this one well in hand, leading 31-6 heading into the fourth. ECU is still the top team in this conference, but the margin is starting to narrow. Much like Marshall, we'll find out just how good this team really is as they now prepare to take on Virginia Tech at home this weekend.

MinerLeageuAROD says: "Not impressed with ECU's defense. Was able actually watch the first half and ECU run defense is very soft. As good as Carden and the offense is, the defense may hurt their chances down the stretch."