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Conference USA Rundown & Power Rankings: Week Six

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1. Tulsa 5-1 (3-0) Previously: 1

2. Central Florida 3-2 (1-0) Previously: 3

3. SMU 2-3 (1-0) Previously: 5

4. East Carolina 3-2 (2-1) Previously: 2

5. Houston 2-3 (1-0) Previously: 6

6. Marshall 2-4 (1-1) Previously: 4

7. Memphis 1-4 (1-0) Previously: 11

8. UTEP 1-5 (0-2) Previously: 7

9. Rice 1-5 (0-3) Previously: 8

10. UAB 1-4 (0-1) Previously: 10

11. Southern Miss 0-5 (0-1) Previously: 9

12. Tulane 0-5 (0-1) Previously: 12

 

Every team from Conference USA was in action this weekend, including of course Tulsa and Marshall. The Golden Hurricane left Huntington with a wild 45-38 victory, maintaining their No. 1 spot in this weeks' power rankings. The Hurricane's running game looked spectacular, rushing for 250 yards on the road. Tulsa hosts UTEP this Thursday night with a chance to join South Carolina, Oregon and Ohio as bowl-eligible FBS teams.

As far as Marshall is concerned, the offense stepped up, but their defense might just be too much to overcome in 2012. The Herd has a bye week before facing winless Southern Miss in what might be a must-win game if they want to stay in the C-USA East race.

Now let's take a quick glance around Conference USA and see how Tulsa's competition fared in week seven.

C-USA West

SMU:

The Mustangs made a jump in the power rankings this week after a very impressive 17-0 win at UTEP. Any conference road win is impressive, but to pitch a shutout on the road in primetime is stellar. SMU has looked impressive so far this season at times, but haven't managed to cash those good stretches into wins. That changed Saturday night, when the Mustangs put on an even more convincing performance in El Paso than OU did earlier this season. SMU is 1-0 in the league and is almost sure to move to 2-0 when they play at Tulane next week. Keep an eye out for SMU.

Houston:

The Cougars had no bite through three games in 2012. While back to back home wins over lowly Rice and North Texas are hardly milestone victories, it might be enough to help get this ship righted. A noon game next week against UAB looks like a must-win for the Cougs if they really want to keep up in the C-USA West.

UTEP:

The Miners took a major step backward Saturday afternoon, getting shut out at home by SMU. UTEP had some hard-fought losses this season against national BCS powers, but Saturday was its chance to make a statement against a good team. The statement was clear, and it was that UTEP isn't ready to take the next step. It was the same old problems for the Miners, throwing three interceptions and missing a field goal. It will be a short week as UTEP must travel to Tulsa on Thursday night, and will likely be fighting to keep its season alive.

Rice:

Any chance that the Owls had of getting back into the C-USA West race likely ended Saturday when they lost to lowly Memphis, falling to 0-3 in conference play. Rice now must host UTSA (5-0) and then travel to Tulsa. The Owls are likely done.

Tulane:

The good news for the Green Wave is they scored a season-high in points on Saturday. The bad news: that number was 13. Louisiana-Lafayette thumped Tulane 41-13, just the most recent in a string of massive blowouts for the Wave. At the risk of sounding harsh or redundant, we'll leave these guys alone.

 

C-USA East

UCF:

Central Florida made a statement on Thursday night against ECU. The 40-20 victory over the Pirates proved the Knights are out to win the conference, even if they're not eligible. Like Ohio State and UNC, the Knights are aiming for a successful season to build momentum for a potential great season next year. UCF hosts winless Southern Miss this Saturday after a long week of preparation.

ECU:

Thursday's road loss at UCF wasn't devastating for the Pirates simply because of their schedule. Already having won two games in the conference, East Carolina's next two conference games are against Memphis and UAB. When you throw in a game at Tulane later this year, it would take a shocking development for the Pirates not to end up with at least five conference wins. And with UCF disqualified, ECU will likely be the favorite to emerge from the East.

Memphis:

The Tigers have been poor all season, but got a clean slate when C-USA play began this week. Memphis took advantage by downing Rice to start 1-0 in conference play. The Tigers' next four games are brutal (at ECU, UCF, at SMU, at Marshall) but if they can find a way to win two of those, they can stay alive.

UAB:

A win is a win…I guess. UAB finally earned its first win of 2012 by taking down the mighty Southeastern Louisiana Lions. Their next two games are against Houston and ECU, and if the Blazers go 0-2 during that stretch, their season will likely be over.

Southern Miss:

The nightmare in Hattiesburg continued on Saturday, losing at home 40-14 to Boise State. The Golden Eagles' schedule has been brutal, and I refuse to believe this squad is as bad as its 0-5 record. Nevertheless, the next two weeks won't be much easier. A trip to UCF followed by a home date with Marshall isn't exactly what the Eagles want to see, but their schedule does ease up after that. Unfortunately, they already lost their head-to-head with ECU, which means they'll have to finish one game ahead of the Pirates.

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