Week 8 Conference USA Power Rankings

Pony Stampede Managing Editor Billy Embody breaks down Conference USA and takes a look at how each team fared this weekend. Where does SMU stand? Come inside to find out!

1. Tulsa (6-1, 4-0; LW: 1): Tulsa visited the hapless UTEP Miners this past weekend and beat up on them 33-11. While UTEP broke its 10-quarter streak without a touchdown, it did so in the middle of the 4th quarter against the Hurricane. TUlsa continued its dominance at the line of scrimmage by rushing for 281 yards. Tulas's quarterback Cody Green was average, but that is all Tulsa needed with a rushing attack like theirs. Tulsa is still the class of C-USA and remains at number one going into their game against conference bottom feeder Rice.

2. UCF (4-2, 2-0; LW: 2): For some reason, UCF almost laid an egg against the lowly Southern Miss Eagles, but pulled out the 38-31 victory in overtime. UCF outgained the Eagles by almost a hundred yards, held the ball for nearly ten more minutes and nearly lost in overtime. UCF forced two turnovers as well, but struggled on third downs, going just 5 for 14. UCF was outgained on the ground 194 yards to 182 yards, but in general, UCF won the game on paper and eventually in overtime. I don't think there will be another performance like this next week at Memphis for the Golden Knights and they will thump the Tigers.

3. East Carolina (4-3, 3-1; LW: 3): East Carolina flat out rolled the Memphis Tigers this past weekend 41-7 and the Tigers didn't even score until the backups were in. While East Carolina killed the Tigers, they remain at number three because they lost by nearly three touchdowns to UCF last weekend. Shane Carden threw for over 300 yards and five touchdowns, but was sacked by the Tigers five times in the game. The Pirates also had a successful ground game being led by Vintavious Cooper with 96 yards on 16 carries. The Pirates visit the terrible UAB Blazers next weekend on the road.

4. Houston (3-3, 2-0; LW: 5): Houston was winning 16-10 at the half against UAB then scored 20 unanswered points in the third quarter to pull away and win 39-17. The Cougars rolled up 566 yards including 362 yards passing from David Piland and 134 yards rushing by Charles Sims. The Cougars also held the Blazers to just 35 yards rushing. All of this has to worry Mustangs fans going into their Thursday night showdown that may very well decide if SMU will be in or out of the conference championship picture. The Cougars did everything well and the Mustangs will have to have a focused week of preparation to be ready for the Cougars at Ford Stadium on Thursday night.

5. Marshall (2-4, 1-1; LW: 6): Marshall benefitted from having a bye this week as they move up one spot in the power rankings. Marshall is currently second in the country in passing yardage at 396 yards per game, but ranks 124th in points against. We saw this weekend what happens when your offense has a bad day and your defense isn't worth a nickel (yes I am talking to you WVU) so this could come back to bite them, but for right now they are scoring at will on just about everyone. The Thundering Herd play at Southern Miss this Saturday night in a key East division matchup.

6. SMU (2-4, 1-1; LW: 4): Some people are probably wondering, A: why is SMU above Tulane? and B: how are we still ranked in the top half of the conference? Well I believe SMU is truly better than Tulane. As pitiful as that loss was, I don't think it shows how this season will go for the Mustangs and I don't think it shows how this season will go for Tulane either. SMU is in the top half of the conference for a reason and that is because the teams below them, maybe minus Southern Miss, are some of the absolute worst teams in the country. SMU has a tough task against Houston and if they are blown out at home, I will lose faith in this team and drop them like a bad habit.

7. Southern Miss (0-6, 0-2; LW: 10): Southern Miss probably had the toughest schedule in Conference USA the first six games of the season as they faced two of the top three teams in C-USA and three BCS AQ conference teams in Nebraska, Louisville and Boise State. They hung tough with most of these teams, but couldn't really get it together. It is obvious that the Golden Eagles miss Larry Fedora after he left for UNC, but Southern Miss has to be one of the best winless teams in the country and I firmly believe they are better than all the teams below. They played UCF tough on the road and now face Marshall at home so that should be a big test of if they have the mettle to stay in the middle of the pack for C-USA.

8. UTEP (1-6, 0-3; LW: 7): I expect the UTEP Miners to get the win against Tulane after getting worked by Tulsa. The Green Wave will return to the cellar of C-USA and UTEP will get its first conference win on the season. UTEP has been better in every aspect of the game than Tulane, but this isn't a game preview for Tulane-UTEP. UTEP has played tough against most teams, but their offense just has not gotten it together at all. UTEP has an up and down rest of the schedule with Houston, UCF, Southern Miss and Rice after Tulane, but they should go .500 or 2-3 in their last five games to remain somewhat respectable.

9. Tulane (1-5, 1-1; LW: 12): Tulane did it. They actually won a game. Tough part for us is that it was against SMU and in a heartbreaking fashion for Mustangs fans, but Tulane has been horrible this season up until they ran into the struggling Mustangs. SMU held the ball for an astounding 40 minutes, but behind the arm of Ryan Griffin, the Green Wave hung around and the SMU defense gave up a late drive to Tulane that won the game for them. Tulane was held to 40 yards rushing, but victimized a horrible SMU secondary that still hasn't stepped up at all this season. Tulane didn't play a great game by any means, but they hung around enough to get the win. Tulane heads to UTEP this weekend in a matchup of our number eight and nine teams.

10. Memphis (1-5, 1-1; LW: 9): Even though Memphis got a win against Rice the week before, the Tigers got ran over by the Pirates 41-7 and it doesn't get any better for the Tigers as they have UCF coming to Memphis this weekend. Memphis has been pretty bad in all facets of the game and rookie coach Justin Fuente has a long way to go to righting this ship for the Tigers. Their top two running backs are averaging over four yards per carry, but the running game is still ranked just 94th in the country. If Fuente starts going to the run more maybe this Tiger team can pull an upset against UCF this weekend, but that is as unlikely as Tulane beating SMU, but we know what happened this weekend.

11. Rice (2-5, 0-3; LW: 11): Well Rice got its second win of the season, bouncing back after their loss to Memphis, by beating UT San Antonio 34-14. The Rice Owls have the 33rd ranked rushing attack in the country, but have not been able to do much this year so far. The Owls upset Kansas early in the season, but since then have not performed well at all. The two headed monster of quarterback Taylor McHargue and running back Charles Ross have the Owls optimistic that they could be good in the future, but not this weekend on the road against C-USA foe Tulsa.

12. UAB (1-5, 0-2; LW: 8): UAB has the 18th ranked passing offense in the country, averaging just over 309 yards per game, but their lone win is against Southeastern Louisiana. UAB is very one dimensional, but a bright spot has been the play of their two quarterbacks freshman Austin Brown and junior Jonathon Perry, who have passed for close to 1900 yards combined. UAB has a tough task this weekend against East Carolina after being beaten by Houston 39-17 this weekend. UAB has a chance to stay in some games with its passing game, like it did against Ohio State, but other than that there is not much going right for this team and they round out the bottom feeders of Conference USA.

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