Week 12 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 (8-2, 6-0; LW: 1): Tulsa put on an offensive show by racking up over 500 yards including 350 rushing when the Golden Hurricane beat Houston 41-7. Tulsa was led by the two headed rushing attack of Ja'Terian Douglas and Cody Green, who rushed for 160 combined yards and two touchdowns. What was even more impressive was that Tulsa held David Piland to just 148 yards passing, zero touchdowns and two interceptions. In all, the Hurricane forced four turnovers and held the Cougars to just 262 total yards. Tulsa heads into the huge showdown with UCF this weekend at home at noon, which if Tulsa wins, would have SMU out of the West division title race no matter if SMU beats them the next weekend.

2. UCF (8-2, 6-0; LW: 2): In a back and forth game against UTEP, UCF was able to hold off a Miners comeback to win 31-24. UCF pulled away in the second quarter and then early in the fourth to build a 24-10 lead. Latavius Murray had another impressive day on the ground with 174 yards on 24 carries and two touchdowns. UCF also got an efficient day from their quarterback Blake Bortles, who completed nearly 60 percent of his passes for 214 yards and three total touchdowns. UCF did get gashed on the ground by the Miners, which rushed for 267 yards but turned the ball over four times and were just 5-of-13 on third down conversions. If UCF does not clean up its run defense, it will be run out of Tulsa next weekend.

3. East Carolina (6-4, 5-1; LW: 3): East Carolina benefitted from a bye-week to prepare for the potent offensive attack that Ryan Griffin and the Tulane Green Wave will welcome the Pirates to New Orleans with this weekend. East Carolina is averaging just over 260 yards passing so this matchup could be a high-scoring, exciting affair if you're free to catch the 2:30 p.m. CT kick-off from the Superdome. The Pirates are also giving up over 250 yards passing so that may be a problem that the Pirates run into is can they stop Griffin? Shane Carden will be looked to have a big day in the air for the Pirates if East Carolina would like to continue their winning ways.

4. SMU (5-5, 4-2; LW: 5): SMU got back to .500 on the season with a 34-6 victory over winless Southern Miss. SMU was able to churn out 186 yards on the ground, but the leading rusher was Garrett Gilbert, who took off five times for 94 yards and two touchdowns. Yes June Jones is still running the Run N' Shoot but with Gilbert's ability to take off, that adds another element to the Mustangs even if it was against the dismal Southern Miss Golden Eagles. Gilbert also completed nearly 63 percent of his passes for 249 yards and a touchdown. SMU's defense played another great game by holding the Golden Eagles to just 178 yards and forced two turnovers. SMU heads to Rice this weekend with a chance to secure its fourth straight bowl berth.

5. Marshall (4-6, 3-3; LW: 4): Marshall had a tough loss this past weekend at the hands of the UAB Blazers 38-31. Marshall tried to mount a comeback from being down 31-7 and almost was able to make it, but UAB scored with 2:50 left in the fourth quarter to take a 38-24 lead and Marshall never recovered. It wasn't a stellar day passing by either team, which was surprising, but UAB gashed Marshall on the ground for 209 yards. Even though Marshall forced four turnovers, it could not get the win. Marshall has to be a little stunned because it really played a pretty good game, but just could not capitalize on the early turnovers to win.

6. Houston (4-6, 3-3; LW: 6): Houston looked terrible against Tulsa. Now Tulsa is the best team in this conference, but Houston has really fallen off this year after Kevin Sumlin's departure. The Cougars did not score until there was 7:08 left in the game when backup quarterback Crawford Jones hit Ryan Jackson with a 16-yard TD pass. The Cougars turned the ball over four times and held the ball for just 22:01 Tulsa ran right over the Cougars with 350 yards rushing on the night with four rushers amassing at least 50 yards. Houston is now out of the West division title race and SMU lost another chance to have someone beat the Hurricane. Houston heads to Marshall this next weekend.

7. Rice (4-6, 2-4; LW: 8): Rice welcomes SMU to town this weekend and SMU's three game winning streak against the Owls. The Owls have been successful rushing the football with running back Charles Ross and quarterback Taylor McHargue each having over 500 yards on the ground and 12 touchdowns on the season. Rice has won two straight games against C-USA bottom feeders Southern Miss and Tulane but is confident heading into this game against the up and down Mustangs. Rice is coming off a bye-week and McHargue has had two weeks to look over film of the Mustangs porous pass defense. While McHargue is a dual-threat, he is more than capable of making plays in the passing attack so the Mustangs will have their hands full with him. Rice and SMU kick off at 2:30 p.m. CT this Saturday.

8. UTEP (2-8, 1-5; LW: 7): UTEP struggled against UCF for a majority of the game but did mount a comeback in an attempt to pull off a huge upset this past weekend. Nathan Jeffery, who rushed for 174 yards on just 24 carries and two touchdowns, led UTEP on the ground. UTEP's Blaire Sullivan passed for just 79 yards and an interception, which made it tough for UTEP to get much going early offensively due to their one-dimensional offense. UTEP has to put together some sort of passing game to go along with their running attack if they'd like to finish this season on a strong note. UTEP heads to Southern Miss this weekend to play the winless Golden Eagles.

9. UAB (3-7, 2-4; LW: 10): UAB pulled an upset this past weekend at home against Marshall 38-31 behind a big day on the ground from Darrin Reaves' 184 yards and two scores. The UAB defense held Rakeem Cato to just 216 yards passing even though he completed 73 percent of his passes. UAB did turn the ball over four times, which almost allowed Marshall back into the game, but Marshall couldn't pull off the comeback. UAB plays lowly Memphis at home this weekend.

10. Memphis (2-8, 2-4; LW: 11): Memphis put together a complete game against Tulane even with three turnovers thanks to Jacob Karam's 270 yards passing and 77 percent completion percentage. Karam directed an offensive attack that gained 386 yards, but converted just 3-of-10 third down conversions. Memphis allowed just 16 points on defense and just one touchdown. Memphis didn't have a great day on the ground with 110 yards rushing, but just 2.5 yards per carry. Memphis heads to UAB this weekend with a chance to beat the Blazers and finish strong on the season.

11. Tulane (2-8, 2-4; LW: 9): Tulane was beat up on by Memphis this weekend 37-23 on the road. Tulane turned the ball over five times including an interception return for a touchdown that squashed any hopes of a Tulane comeback. This game wasn't as close as the score showed. Memphis outgained Tulane 386 to 291 and Ryan Griffin had a rough day throwing three interceptions against Memphis. Tulane was led by Ryan Grant, who had 113 yards on 11 receptions and a touchdown, but other than that Tulane couldn't get anything going on offense. Tulane didn't have a running back that rushed for over 33 yards and didn't have a receiver other than Grant who had more than 26 yards receiving. Tulane can rebound against East Carolina at home this weekend.

12. Southern Miss (0-10, 0-6; LW: 12): Southern Miss has had a rough season and it didn't get any better against the Mustangs. Southern Miss was able to hang around until the second quarter when they made it 10-6, but then the Mustangs scored 24 unanswered points to finish the game. Southern Miss allowed 435 yards to the Mustangs and threw two interceptions with Chris Campbell at quarterback. The Golden Eagles had three quarterbacks play, but none of them could get anything going. USM was held to just 51 rushing yards by SMU, who allowed Latavius Murray to run all over them last weekend. The Golden Eagles host UTEP this weekend at 7 p.m. CT.

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