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Conference USA Rundown & Power Rankings: Week 12

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1. Tulsa: 9-2 (7-0) Previously: 1

2. UCF: 8-3 (6-1) Previously: 2

3. ECU: 7-4 (6-1) Previously: 3

4. Marshall: 5-6 (4-3) Previously: 5

5. Rice: 5-6 (3-4) Previously: 7

6. SMU: 5-6 (4-3) Previously: 4

7. Houston: 4-7 (3-4) Previously: 6

8. UTEP: 3-8 (2-5) Previously: 9

9. Memphis: 3-8 (3-4) Previously: 10

10. UAB: 3-8 (2-5) Previously: 8

11. Tulane: 2-9 (2-5) Previously: 11

12. Southern Miss: 0-11 (0-7) Previously: 12

The top three remained the same in this week's edition of the rankings. Tulsa's big win over UCF solidified the top spot for the Hurricane, but UCF's close loss wasn't enough to lose the No. 2 spot. ECU kept its tight grip on third place, but every team from No. 4 to No. 10 switched spots.

It was a busy week around Conference USA. Tulsa's win clinched home-field advantage for the C-USA title game, while UCF must now win to get in. Some teams moved closer to bowl-eligibility, while others took a step in the wrong direction.

Here's a quick rundown of what the rest of the conference was up to in week 12:

C-USA West

Rice:

The Owls jumped to the fifth spot in the rankings this week after putting a 36-14 beatdown on SMU. Rice has won four of its past five games, with its only loss coming in heartbreaking fashion at Tulsa. All the sudden, a win in the season's final week at UTEP will put the Owls into a bowl game for the first time since 2008.

SMU:

A win against Rice would have clinched bowl-eligibility for the Mustangs, but the Owls had their own motive. Now SMU must beat Tulsa this week to reach a bowl game, a tall order to say the least. The bright side for SMU is Tulsa doesn't need to win, so perhaps the Hurricane will sit some key players.

Houston:

The Cougars needed to win at Marshall Saturday to keep their bowl hopes alive, but a 44-41 loss ends that discussion. A sense of urgency must have kicked in at halftime, because the Cougs outscored the Herd 31-13 in the second half, but it wasn't enough. This will be the second time in three years Houston has missed a bowl.

UTEP:

A narrow escape at Southern Miss followed by coach Mike Price's retirement announcement combined to create a crazy week in El Paso. UTEP nearly had the distinction of losing to a 0-10 team, but Southern Miss' failed 2-point conversion in the final minutes allowed the Miners to hang on. It wasn't pretty, but after another trying season, any win tastes good.

Tulane:

The Wave fought hard Saturday but ultimately came up short, falling 28-23 at home to ECU. No shame in this loss, as ECU is a team that seems to always find a way to win close games. Tulane finishes the season Saturday against Houston in what will be the Cougars' final game as a member of Conference USA.

 

C-USA East

ECU:

The Pirates earned their seventh win of the season Saturday at Tulane, keeping their conference title hopes alive. ECU must beat Marshall this Saturday and have UCF lose to UAB (unlikely) to clinch the East division. Worst-case scenario for ECU is a trip to a decent bowl game, something Pirates fans will enjoy after last year's absence.

Marshall:

The Herd held on to finish Houston off Saturday, earning win No. 5. A win against ECU in Greenville this week will make Marshall bowl-eligible for third time in four seasons.

Memphis:

In one of Saturday's more shocking scores, the Tigers completely dominated UAB in a 46-9 rout. It was the most points Memphis has scored this season and the fewest points it has allowed. The Tigers somehow have a chance to finish .500 in conference play with a win Saturday over pitiful Southern Miss.

UAB:

The blowout to Memphis was particularly surprising because of UAB's big win against Marshall in its previous game. UAB must refocus quickly because this week's trip to UCF has large implications. A win against the Knights would open the door for ECU to reach the title game instead of UCF. A win like that could make UAB's season.

Southern Miss:

Well it's official. Southern Miss is the new NCAA record holder for biggest single-season win drop-off in history. From last season's 12-2 to this season's 0-11, the Eagles broke Ball State's win drop-off record of 10. Saturday's ending added insult to injury, failing to convert on a 2-point conversion in the final minutes and losing by just one to a bad UTEP team. It can't get any worse in Hattiesburg.

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