Conference USA Rundown & Power Rankings: Week Eight

Monday, October 22nd 2012, 7:13 pm
By: News On 6

1. Tulsa: 7-1 (5-0) Previously: 1

2. Central Florida: 5-2 (3-0) Previously: 2

3. East Carolina: 5-3 (4-1) Previously: 3

4. Marshall: 3-4 (2-1) Previously: 5

5. SMU: 3-4 (2-1) Previously: 7

6. Houston: 3-4 (2-1) Previously: 4

7. Rice: 2-6 (0-4) Previously: 6

8. UTEP: 2-6 (1-3) Previously: 10

9. Tulane: 1-6 (1-2) Previously: 8

10. Southern Miss: 0-7 (0-3) Previously: 9

11. Memphis: 1-6 (1-2) Previously: 11

12. UAB: 1-6 (0-3) Previously: 12

The top three teams stayed the same in this week's power rankings. Tulsa held on to first place despite a nail-biting victory over Rice and another strong showing by UCF. The fact that Cody Green and Trey Watts didn't play certainly hampered Tulsa, but the Hurricane found a way to win. Like Central Florida, East Carolina held on to its top-three spot with a solid road win.

The shock of the week was SMU's dismantling of Houston on Thursday night. One week after losing to Tulane and seemingly falling into the pretender category, the Mustangs dropped 72 points on Houston and got right back in the west division race.

The team both SMU and Houston trail in the west is of course Tulsa. When you look back on the season, TU has played tight games with Fresno State, UAB, Marshall and now Rice, and could just as easily be 3-5. But this Hurricane team just keeps finding a way, and it could lead to a very special season.

For Rice, a win over Tulsa could have been a season-changer, but instead it was just another loss. The Owls have been competitive all season, but eventually that competitiveness must turn into wins, and it isn't happening for this club.

Here's a quick rundown of how Tulsa's competition fared in week eight:


C-USA West:


Whatever coach June Jones told his team following their terrible loss to Tulane, it should be bottled and sold. Either that or they need to play more Thursday games. The Mustangs dropped the hammer on Houston, pouring on 72 points on a Thursday night special. This game has a significant impact on Tulsa and the west division race. SMU now owns the tiebreaker over Houston, and each of those teams now has a conference loss and is one game back of the Hurricane. SMU and Houston now head forward knowing they likely can't lose again because Tulsa probably won't lose twice. The Mustangs host Memphis next week in a game they must win to keep pace.


The Cougars appeared like they were ready to take the next step following their three-game winning streak, but Thursday's debacle at SMU might prove to be very costly. As I mentioned in SMU's rundown, Houston fell off the first-place pace and lost the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Mustangs all in one night. Houston hosts UTEP this week, but after that, a three-game stretch of at ECU, Tulsa and at Marshall is brutal. It's hard to imagine Houston not losing at least one more game.


The Miners earned a much-needed win Saturday, holding on to beat Tulane 24-20. It's been a rough stretch for UTEP, so any win must feel great at this point. The Miners have a chance to play spoiler next week at Houston.


The Wave fought hard, but couldn't manage to pick up back-to-back conference wins for the first time since 2007. The good news for Tulane is that their next three games are very winnable: home games with UAB and Rice, followed by a trip to Memphis.


C-USA East:


The Knights took care of business Saturday, gradually pulling away from Memphis to win 35-17. Latavius Murray ran for 192 yards and two scores to lead the way as UCF continues to march toward the C-USA east title. One of the Knights' toughest tests comes this Saturday when they travel to face Marshall. UCF already holds the head-to-head tiebreaker with ECU, and if the Knights can take down the Herd, they'll own the tiebreaker over both of the teams competing with them. If UCF falls to Marshall, the Herd will move into the drivers' seat in the east division.


Because of their loss to UCF, the Pirates really can't afford to lose again if they want to win the east. As it stands now, UCF would need to lose two games for East Carolina to have any chance. While that can certainly happen, the Pirates need to take care of business, just like they did Saturday against UAB. ECU gets Navy this week in a nonconference tilt, and you can bet they'll be scoreboard watching, pulling for Marshall to take down the Knights.


The east division has turned into a three-team race, and Marshall has the chance to make a major impact on that race this week against UCF. The Herd's offense continued to roll at Southern Miss on Saturday, putting up over 600 yards and eight touchdowns. If Marshall has dreams of winning the east, the offense will need to bring its ‘A' game again on Saturday. A win over UCF will allow the Herd to control its own destiny going forward.

Southern Miss:

I tried defending the Eagles in last week's power rankings, discussing how difficult their schedule has been and how they've given some really good teams very close games. Then they go out this week and get blown out at home by Marshall, proving once and for all that this team simply doesn't have it. An 0-7 start is extremely hard to swallow for a program as proud as Southern Miss, but there are some potential wins left this season. Rice, UAB, Memphis and UTEP are still on the slate for the Eagles, so a winless campaign is highly unlikely.


Despite hanging around in the first half, Memphis ran out of gas against a far superior UCF team. Things are bad and unfortunately probably getting worse. Upcoming trips to SMU and Marshall will more than likely leave the Tigers at 1-8. Here's a depressing fun fact for you: Memphis' leading rusher has 224 yards and two touchdowns. That's bad.


So, UAB lost again. The Blazers visit Tulane this Saturday and I would highly advise not watching.