Week 10 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 benefitted the most from this past week due to a bye week as they prepare for its matchup against the Arkansas. The Golden Hurricane heads to Fayetteville to play the Razorbacks, which have bounced back from their dismal start to the season. The Razorbacks did lose to Ole Miss this past weekend and are giving up over 30 points a game so Tulsa's 9th rated rushing attack could have a big day. Tulsa plays Houston, UCF and SMU after Arkansas. The matchup against the Mustangs could determine who represents the West against presumably UCF in the conference title game.

2. UCF (6-2, 4-0; LW: 2): The Knights dismantled the Marshall Thunder Herd this past weekend 54-17 on the road by holding Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato to his second lowest passing total of the year as he passed for 298 yards. UCF has to be happy with that victory as they head into its matchup with SMU this weekend. UCF rolled up 278 yards rushing with Latavius Murray, who finished with 156 yards and four total touchdowns. Murray averaged almost 10 yards per carry on only 16 carries. UCF will have to clean up its three turnovers on the day when they play the opportunistic SMU defense this next weekend if they hope to retain the top spot in the C-USA East Division.

3. SMU (4-4, 3-1; LW: 5): On Homecoming, SMU rolled past Memphis with a big second half to win 44-13 behind quarterback Garrett Gilbert and running back Zach Line's historic day. The Mustangs had 127 yards and a touchdown from Line, who moved past Craig James for third on SMU's all-time rushing list. SMU receiver Darius Johnson also had 141 yards receiving against the Memphis defense, which allowed Gilbert to pass for 353 yards and complete over 70 percent of his passes. The Mustangs put together their best game on offense of the year and that has to give them confidence going into their matchup against UCF on the road. The SMU defense forced two turnovers and held Memphis to just 202 total yards. SMU looks the best they have all season and that has to give SMU fans confidence for the matchup in Orlando this weekend.

4. East Carolina (5-4, 4-1; LW: 3): East Carolina hosted Navy this past weekend and got ran over in the second half to lose 56-28. ECU falls to 5-4 on the season after Navy put up a embarrassing 512 yards on the ground, its highest rushing output since visiting Greenville in 2010 when it ran for 521. Navy was one-dimensional and only passed for 51 yards so the rushing yardage that was allowed was embarrassing and shows how undisciplined the Pirates defense is. The Pirates also turned the ball over twice in the game and held the ball for just 24:33 even with 121 yards rushing from Vintavious Cooper. East Carolina plays Houston this Saturday and if the Pirates can upset the Cougars, it will give SMU an even better shot at winning the West.

5. Houston (4-4, 3-1; LW: 6): Houston held off a furious rally by UTEP to win 45-35 at home. Houston let up four unanswered touchdowns by the Miners who almost came from 45-7 down, but finished off the Miners by holding them for the final 4:35 of the game. The Cougars forced six turnovers including a 97-yard interception return for a touchdown in the first half. The defense led the way for the Cougars because the offense had a ho-hum day with just 339 total yards including a season low 174 yards passing from David Piland, who has struggled in back-to-back games now. Houston heads to East Carolina this weekend for a matchup of the number 4 and number five team in the power rankings.

6. Marshall (3-5, 2-2; LW: 4): Marshall had its first day struggling with throwing the football even though Rakeem Cato still passed for 298 yards. That type of output led to the 54-17 beat down from UCF at home. Even though Marshall did not turn the ball over once during the game, they could not get anything going on offense and part of that has to be due to the 66 yards rushing against the Knights. Not only did the offense punt seven times and turn the ball over on downs twice, the defense could not get off of the field. UCF was able to take the ball with 12:05 left in the game and went 99 yards to run out just over 10 minutes of the clock. Marshall did not get the ball until 1:55 left in the game. Not that it would have mattered, but that has to be concerning that the defense could not get off the field and got manhandled for 99 yards. Marshall hosts Memphis this weekend with a great chance to bounce back.

7. UTEP (2-7, 1-4; LW: 7): UTEP could not get it going early in the game with four turnovers in the first half and two more in the third quarter and could not complete a rally and lost 45-35. Once UTEP got it together, the Miners went on a run of four unanswered touchdowns from 8:45 left in the third till 6:16 in the fourth. The Miners had a game like Houston had against SMU with so many turnovers early that just came back to bite them. One of the Miners interceptions went for a touchdown and that ended up killing the Miners as well. The Miners had a great day passing with over 300 yards as they got close to topping the 500-yard mark of total offense, but fell just short. The Miners play UCF on November 10 with a bye week this weekend.

8. Rice (3-6, 1-4; LW: 8): Rice was able to whip the Southern Miss Golden Eagles at home 44-17 in a matchup of bottom feeders this past weekend. Rice had another great game rushing the ball with 198 yards and even though the Owls had three turnovers, their defense came up even bigger by forcing five turnovers by Southern Miss. Turner Peterson ran for 136 yards and two touchdowns for Rice and Driphus Jackson completed 4-6 passes for 92 yards in relief of Taylor McHargue, who injured his shoulder in the second quarter. Rice's victory did not come as easy as it may have seemed. Southern Miss held the ball for just over 30 minutes and also outgained the Owls 372-370. Rice heads to New Orleans to take on the Green Wave this weekend.

9. Tulane (2-6, 2-2; LW: 9): Tulane won a barn-burner this weekend 55-45 at home against UAB this weekend in a matchup that featured over 1,200 yards of total offense. Tulane's Ryan Griffin had another great showing by passing for 466 yards and five touchdowns that left UAB's defense wondering what hit them. Griffin has topped 300 yards passing each of the last three games. Tulane held the ball for 34:59 compared to 25:01 for UAB and that was probably the difference in the game. Even though Austin Brown passed for over 400 yards for the Blazers, he threw three interceptions that hurt UAB's chances. Tulane hosts Rice this weekend, who comes in ranked 97th in points against so another big day from Griffin could be in the cards.

10. UAB (1-7, 0-4; LW: 10): UAB put in a great performance offensively against Tulane, but turnovers killed the Blazers with two late turnovers in the fourth that crushed any chance of the Blazers beating the Green Wave. UAB and their 11th ranked passing offense continued to dazzle, but they fell to 0-4 in C-USA, but could get some wins with games against Southern Miss, Marshall and Memphis coming up before their final game against UCF. The Blazers have had problems stopping opponents all year and even with their success passing the ball have managed one win, against Southeastern Louisiana earlier this season. UAB heads to Southern Miss this weekend to play the Golden Eagles.

11. Memphis (1-7, 1-3; LW: 12): Memphis hung around for the first half, but SMU put the pedal down on the Tigers with 28 points in the second half. The Tigers were held to just 85 yards passing by the Mustangs and 202 total yards. The Tigers were down just 16-10 at the half and closed the game to 16-13 early in the second, but SMU beat the Tigers deep with a throw from Gilbert to Darius Johnson for 70 yards that sparked the Mustangs offensive explosion. Memphis could not stay on the field during the second half with their last three drives from 5:44 left in the third quarter ending in three-and-outs. Memphis faces Marshall on the road this weekend.

12. Southern Miss (0-8, 0-4; LW: 11): Southern Miss has gone from one of my underrated teams to a flat out bottom feeder in C-USA due to their beat down from Rice this past weekend. There is no more getting around the fact that Southern Miss played some teams tough, but came up short. The Golden Eagles miss Larry Fedora and haven't been able to do much of anything offensively this season and turned the ball over five times against Rice. Southern Miss has a chance next year to be good if they can develop some of their young talent towards the end of this season, but heralded first-year coach Ellis Johnson has a chance to get his first win of the season against UAB at home.

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