Week 13 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 (9-2, 7-0; LW: 1): Tulsa gave itself home field advantage in the C-USA title game after defeating UCF at home 23-21. Behind Tulsa's 461 yards on offense and Cody Green's three passing touchdowns, the Hurricane were able to punch their ticket to the C-USA championship game with SMU's loss and their win. Tulsa won the battle for time of possession and did not commit a penalty in the game, but UCF was able take the lead on an interception return for a touchdown, one of two Tulsa turnovers on the night. Tulsa was able to grind out over 200 yards rushing and eventually took a 23-14 lead that UCF could not comeback from even with a Latavius Murray touchdown in the fourth quarter. Tulsa heads to SMU this weekend to take on the Mustangs with a chance to finish up a perfect conference record.

2. UCF (8-3, 6-1; LW: 2): UCF gave Tulsa everything they could handle, but could not complete a comeback against a tough Tulsa defense that held UCF to just 235 total yards. Latavius Murray was held to just 60 yards and a touchdown on the ground and fewer than three yards per carry. UCF could not protect quarterback Blake Bortles either as he was sacked four times while going 13-of-31 for 169 yards and a touchdown. Next time around, UCF has to be able to convert on third downs more to keep Tulsa's rushing attack off the field as the Knights went 4-of-15 on third down conversions against the Hurricane. Tulsa beat up on UCF in this game and that has to be disheartening for the Knights going into their season finale against UAB at home, but they must rebound with another shot at Tulsa in two weeks in the C-USA title game on the road.

3. East Carolina (7-4, 6-1; LW: 3): East Carolina scored a late touchdown to give them enough room to survive a 28-23 game against Tulane this past weekend. Shane Carden threw for 215 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, but his touchdown to Andrew Bodenheimer with 4:29 to go gave the Pirates the edge. ECU was able to hold Tulane to just nine yards rushing, but gave up 293 yards passing to Ryan Griffin of the Green Wave. The Pirates had a relatively balanced attack with close to 200 yards rushing and just over 200 yards passing, but Carden turned the ball over twice, which let the Green Wave hang around. The Pirates escaped New Orleans and face Marshall at home with a chance to get to eight wins.

4. Marshall (5-6, 4-3; LW: 5): Marshall's second ranked passing attack came alive, but so did the running game as the Thundering Herd piled up 665 yards against Houston, winning 44-41 and held off a furious fourth quarter rally by the Cougars. Rakeem Cato continued to sling the ball around by throwing for 377 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Marshall was able to hold the ball for just under 33 minutes and converted 13-of-22 third down conversions to keep drives alive. Marshall running back Kevin Grooms also had 155 yards on 21 carries and a touchdown including a 69-yard touchdown run. Marshall heads to ECU to cap of its season with a chance to get bowl eligible.

5. Rice (5-6, 3-4; LW: 7): Rice beat SMU in every facet of the game 36-14 and moved to one win away from becoming bowl eligible. Behind quarterback Taylor McHargue's 335 total yards and three total touchdowns and Groza finalist Chris Boswell's five field goals, three from longer than 50 yards, Rice dominated SMU. SMU did hold the Rice rushing attack to 126 yards, but Rice was still able to hold the ball for over 35 minutes, something the Mustangs prided themselves on this season. Rice heads to El Paso to face UTEP with a chance to gain bowl eligibility.

6. SMU (5-6, 4-3; LW: 4): SMU had an opportunity to beat Rice for the fourth straight time but got worked by the Owls 36-14. After running back Zach Line, who finished with 94 yards and two touchdowns, made it 7-6, it was all Rice from there, which scored 20 unanswered points. Garrett Gilbert threw for just 214 yards on 27 attempts, but senior receiver Darius Johnson had his best game of the season, catching six balls for 153 yards. SMU didn't get any production from any of the other receivers with none of the SMU receivers having more than 28 yards individually. SMU's defense got worn down by being on the field for so long, but the defense played valiantly even with the offense laying an egg for the most part. SMU finishes its season with Tulsa at home and a shot at bowl eligibility on the line.

7. Houston (4-7, 3-4; LW: 6): Houston started Crawford Jones against Marshall and Jones produced by completing 31 of 44 passes for 316 yards and five touchdowns, but it was in a losing effort, 44-41. Houston only rushed for 105 yards and was unable to do much on third downs, going just 5-of-17. Jones had to do it all himself and he did, especially in a seven minute span during the third quarter when he brought Houston back from down 38-17 to tie the game 38-38. Houston went back and forth and tied the game with 1:18 left to play, but it was the team that had the ball last that came out on top with Marshall kicking a field goal with seven seconds left to win. Houston hosts Tulane in its season finale.

8. UTEP (3-8, 2-5; LW: 8): UTEP was able to escape Hattiesburg with a win over Southern Miss 34-33 because of Autrey Golden's 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter that gave UTEP a 34-27 lead. When USM head coach Ellis Johnson opted to go for the win with a two-point conversion attempt after an 86-yard touchdown drive, UTEP's defense picked off the pass in the end zone to seal it. UTEP was not impressive by any means offensively as it was held to just 359 total yards, but had a balanced attack with over 170 yards passing and rushing on the night. UTEP didn't commit but two penalties and did not turn the ball over and was able to get by with the win on two big plays. UTEP hosts Rice at 7 p.m. CT this Saturday.

9. Memphis (3-8, 3-4; LW: 10): Memphis blew out the struggling UAB Blazers 46-9 on the road behind Brandon Hayes 127 yards and three scores. Memphis was able to contain the Blazers' offense, allowing just 213 total yards and just 26 on the ground. The Blazers did not score a touchdown until six minutes left in the fourth quarter and had the extra point blocked and returned by Memphis for two points to make it a 46-9 final. The Tigers also forced two turnovers and held the ball for over 31 minutes. The Tigers got an efficient day from quarterback Jacob Karam, who completed 14-of-16 passes for 147 yards and three touchdowns. Memphis hosts lowly Southern Miss in their season finale.

10. Tulane (2-9, 2-5; LW: 11): Tulane gave East Carolina a heck of a game in the Big Easy and led until late in the second quarter, but was unable to regain the lead after the Pirates took it after a touchdown. Tulane battled and battled the entire game with quarterback Ryan Griffin putting up 293 yards passing and two touchdowns on 57 attempts. The Green Wave was held to a terrible nine yards rushing and even with a nonexistent rushing attack, was able to hold the ball for over 32 minutes. The Green Wave have been able to put up great passing numbers and next year maybe could be a dark horse if they improve, but Tulane heads to Houston to face another high-flying attack to finish its season.

11. UAB (3-8, 2-5; LW: 9): UAB had a rough season and it didn't get any better Saturday afternoon against Memphis, who came into Birmingham and put a whipping on the Blazers. The Blazers were held to just 26 yards rushing and could not generate much else on offense. The Blazers turned the ball over twice and went 4-of-16 on third down conversions. The Blazers' defense gave up 173 yards on the ground behind Hayes' big day and the end of the season cannot come soon enough for the Blazers. UAB has to head to conference power UCF's home turf, which is coming off a disappointing loss and will be looking to let out some frustration.

12. Southern Miss (0-11, 0-7; LW: 12): Southern Miss was an extra point away from forcing overtime, but Ellis Johnson went for his first win as the Golden Eagles' head coach by going for two, but the try was intercepted by UTEP to seal a 34-33 defeat. Southern Miss had one of its better offensive days with 532 total yards and 374 yards passing from Arsenio Favor, who went 16-of-22 with two touchdowns and an interception. The Golden Eagles had a disappointing end to this game, which could have been avoided if USM could have stopped a 98-yard kick return for a touchdown from happening. Favor was the fourth quarterback to start on the year for USM and played extremely well, but all for not. Southern Miss heads to Memphis with another opportunity to get its first win.

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