Week 9 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 (7-1, 5-0; LW: 1): Tulsa had to step up late in the game against Rice to stay perfect in Conference USA play this past weekend. The Golden Hurricane were a terrible 3-for-14 on third down conversions but drove down the field and scored with 1:31 remaining in the game to beat the Owls 28-24 at home. Rice held the ball for over 35 minutes compared to Tulsa's 24:37 time of possession. The Hurricane racked up over 400 yards off offense in the win and have a bye this weekend before playing at Arkansas. The bye week will definitely help the Hurricanes heading into their matchup against the Razorbacks but if Tulsa can grind it out with their running backs Ja'Terian Douglas and Trey Watts, who are averaging 7.9 and 6.9 yards per carry respectively, Tulsa has a shot.

2. UCF (5-2, 3-0; LW: 2): On the road against Memphis, UCF stayed perfect in C-USA play as well beating the Tigers 35-17 behind a huge game from running back Latavius Murray, who rushed for 192 yards and two touchdowns. UCF was up 14-10 at the half and then proceeded to pull away in the second half and was up 35-10 before a last minute touchdown from the Tigers. UCF had a poor performance from the passing game and quarterback Blake Bortles, who threw for just 122 yards. UCF capitalized on a Memphis fumble and returned it for a touchdown and Memphis did the same in the first half so ultimately this UCF win was a team win but keep an eye on how well the passing game bounces back against Marshall.

3. East Carolina (5-3, 4-1; LW: 3): The Pirates escaped from Birmingham with a 42-35 win over the Blazers this past weekend behind a huge day from quarterback Shane Carden, who had 386 yards passing. East Carolina also had a huge day on the ground from Vintavious Cooper's 172 yards, but it was the clutch play of Carden who connected with Justin Hardy early in the 4th quarter that gave ECU the win. ECU had 600 yards of offense and held the Blazers to just 82 yards rushing in the win. ECU takes on Navy this week at home in a non-conference matchup.

4. Marshall (3-4, 2-1; LW: 5): Marshall continued its offensive assault through the air behind quarterback Rakeem Cato's 340 yards. The Thundering Herd is currently second in the country in passing yardage, averaging 396 yards per game and racked up 629 total yards against the porous Southern Miss defense. The score was 24-17 Marshall until 3:46 left in the second quarter when Marshall scored on a 25-yard touchdown run that was the first of five unanswered touchdowns. The Golden Eagles did not score until 2:03 left in the game to make it 59-24. Overall, it was an impressive performance from Marshall on Saturday as they head into their East division showdown with UCF this weekend.

5. SMU (3-4, 2-1; LW: 6): I said last week that I would drop SMU down the list if they got blown out by Houston, but instead SMU blew out the Cougars in their Thursday night matchup 72-42 behind four defensive touchdowns and nine Houston turnovers. The SMU defense picked off three different Houston quarterbacks two times each. SMU did give up 445 total passing yards to the Cougars, but the opportunistic defense made plenty of plays for the Mustangs and set up Garrett Gilbert and company with a short field on plenty of occasions. The Mustangs play Memphis for Homecoming this weekend and will look to build off of this big win.

6. Houston (3-4, 2-1; LW: 4): Houston put on another impressive passing performance, but turnovers killed them in its loss to the Mustangs. The loss to SMU puts Houston in a tough spot for the rest of the season and their hopes of a West division title in jeopardy. David Piland made some questionable decisions and was eventually replaced by Crawford Jones and Bram Kohlhausen later in the game, who did not fair any better. Houston running back Charles Sims was held to a lowly 54 yards on the ground, but did catch seven balls for 114 yards in the game. Houston plays UTEP this weekend at home with an opportunity to get back on track.

7. UTEP (2-6, 1-3; LW: 8): UTEP was able to hold off a late rally by Tulane even while being held without a score in the second half to win 24-20. UTEP's defense allowed a field goal in the fourth quarter to make it 24-20 and was able to keep Tulane at bay, who was not doing anything on offense until the field goal. UTEP did give up 363 yards passing to Ryan Griffin but also limited Tulane to just 77 yards rushing. UTEP's win gives them their first C-USA victory of the season going into their matchup against Houston. If UTEP's secondary plays like it did last week, it could be a very long game for the Miners.

8. Rice (2-6, 0-4; LW: 11): Rice was unable to pull of the upset of Tulsa this weekend as they fell 28-24 to the Hurricanes on the road. Rice was up 21-14 at the half, but was held to just a field goal in the second half and Tulsa scored a touchdown in the third and fourth quarter to beat the Owls. Rice held the ball for over 38 minutes compared to Tulsa's 24 plus minutes, which is a good sign of success offensively. Rice gave up a rushing touchdown in the final two minutes to give Tulsa the win, but the game has to be a positive one for the Owls since they have lost five of their last six games, but appear closer to breaking through with a win.

9. Tulane (1-6, 1-2; LW: 9): Tulane struggled to get anything going in the second half against UTEP and fell 28-24 on a last minute touchdown. Tulane head coach Curtis Johnson has to be pleased with his passing attack the last two weeks as Ryan Griffin threw for 363 yards and was very efficient against UTEP. Tulane is still struggling to run the ball with another poor day of just 77 yards rushing. The Green Wave still ranks last in the country with just 27.1 yards per game. Tulane may have gotten its first conference win last week, but the Green Wave is destined to struggle the majority of the season due to their inability to run the football.

10. UAB (1-6, 0-3; LW: 8): UAB was looking for its first C-USA win this past weekend, but came up short 42-35 to ECU after leading 14-13 at the half. Quarterback Austin Brown threw for 319 yards as the Blazers offense kept up its high-flying, 13th ranked passing attack, but came up short. The Blazers had a tough time stopping ECU quarterback Shane Carden as he threw for 386 yards and ECU rolled up 600 yards of offense. The Blazers cannot stop a cold and go up against a Tulane team that threw for 363 yards last weekend so watch out for a tough matchup for the UAB defense this coming weekend in a battle of two of the bottom feeders in C-USA.

11. Southern Miss (0-7, 0-3; LW: 7): I believed the Golden Eagles were very underrated this season, but they showed their true colors against Marshall, who thrashed Southern Miss 59-24. The Golden Eagles couldn't stop anything that Marshall threw at them or ran at them for that matter as Southern Miss gave up 629 yards. Southern Miss' offense didn't help much as well as the offense turned the ball over three times. The Golden Eagles weren't in a terrible position at the end of the first half, down 31-17, but Marshall exploded in the second half and Southern Miss didn't score until 2:03 left in the fourth quarter on the backups. Southern Miss heads to Rice this weekend where one of the teams will get their first C-USA or in the Golden Eagles' case, win of the season.

12. Memphis (1-6, 1-2; LW: 10): Memphis got beat up in the second half by C-USA power UCF this weekend, 35-17 at home after hanging tough in the first half with the Golden Knights. Neither team had a stellar day offensively as Memphis threw for just 121 yards and an interception. Memphis did have a good day rushing the ball for 240 yards, but gave up 192 yards and two touchdowns to UCF running back Latavius Murray alone. Memphis beat Rice earlier this season, but the Tigers have truly been inept in most facets of the game so that is why Memphis sits at the bottom of the C-USA power rankings. Memphis can't turn the ball over three times again against SMU this weekend especially with the way SMU has been capitalizing on turnovers these days.

Pony Stampede Top Stories