With North Texas losing to Louisiana Tech on September 29, there are no unbeaten remaining in C-USA. Teams floors are shown by their worst results, and in that sense every team has by now shown how bad it can be. Here are C-USA teams ranked by their worst loss and a comment on what may be learned. If anything, you can take from this why your team should be in the next game, no matter who the opponent is.
By the way, as soon as UTEP wins a game, I intend do this exercise with everyones best win.
1. Florida International
Worst Loss: Indiana (4-2) 38-28 week 1. Next worst loss: @Miami (5-1) 31-17 week 4.
What we learned:Its obvious, this isn’t really a bad loss. Its worse than Miami because Miami is better than Indiana. That latter one drove home that you can run on FIU if you got the line. FIU also is pretty average when it comes to getting out of trouble on third down resulting in the lowest average time of possession in the league. Still, overall so far FIUs floor seems pretty decently high.
2. Middle Tennessee
Worst Loss: Vanderbilt (3-3) 35-7 week 1. Next worst loss: Georgia (6-0) 49-7 week 3.
What we learned: It is absolutely possible to run on MTSU and Vandy was just the first of several teams who indicated as much. This means that if your team can take a lead on MTSU, you may be able to lean on the clock. It is also helpful that –like against Vandy- MTSUs defense is atrocious on 3rd down and is pedestrian in the explosive plays department of ten yards or more.
3. North Texas
Worst Loss: LaTech (3-2) 29-27, week 5. Next worst loss: none
What we learned: UNT is not very deep, and the close game win series from last season was unsustainable. There were a number of important injuries on UNTs side during this game, and UNT clearly had trouble compensating. It also showed that UNTs O-line is somewhat porous, as indicated by the fact it is in last place for TFLs allowed per game. Also it leaves one wondering if this team is truly ready for adversity when it hits.
4. Florida Atlantic
Worst Loss: @Middle Tennessee (3-2) 25-24, week5, next worst loss: @Oklahoma (5-1) 63-14, week 1.
What we learned: By this game we had already know that FAUs defense is not nearly as good as last season (MTSUs 25 is actually the fewest points FAU gave up so far this season). But losing a lead of 21-3 and only 3-second half points indicated that the offense, despite having Motor Singletary is also not really as capable of sitting on leads as least season either. I wonder if being tied for most penalties in C-USA might have something to do with that. Then again, maybe all of this is just because MTSU really has balls this season, going for two and all.
Worst Loss: Middle Tennessee (3-2) 34-24 week 6. Next worst loss: NC State (5-0) week 4.
What we learned: Well Marshall started off ok, lead at the half and then didn’t make the right adjustments. Its this seasons primary example of this kind of game. You might have previously heard about this kind of thing happening from Marshall fans, and they might be on to something as Marshall has been significantly better in the first half all season (overall score is 91-40) than in the second half (56-76). So if you can keep up with Marshall for a half, then your chances of overtaking them as MTSU did.
6. Louisiana Tech
Worst Loss: UAB (4-1) 28-7 week 6. Next worst loss: LSU 38-21 (5-1) week 4.
What we learned: After putting up 7 in the first quarter LaTech was outscored 28-0 in the last 3 quarters. That’s after scoring only 3 vs UNT in the second half the week before. I think it means that it is the right plan to try to take away the run and dare J’Mar Smith (10-24 in this game) to beat you with his arm. Often enough he will fail to do so.
Worst Loss: @Kansas State (2-4) 41-17, week 3 Next worst loss: Arizona State (3-3) 49-7 week 1.
What we learned: It is evident that the problems are on offense. UTSA scored on its second drive, and then didn’t score anymore until garbage time, and nobody scored less this season vs K-state than UTSA, FCS opponent included. UTSA had 300 yards of offense (which is a good bit above season average!). I think the most important lesson is that even though the defense is pretty good, when faced with a competent passing attack eventually it will give in when having to spend too much time on the field simply because the offense has too much trouble staying on schedule.
Worst Loss: Coastal Carolina (3-2) 47-24, week 2. Next worst loss: none
What we learned: CCU isn’t as horrible as it used to be, but still, in the face of the current 3-game winning streak over teams like LaTech and Tulane, this serves as a reminder that UABs floor is not all that high. Most importantly it exemplified that given its defense UAB may be a good frontrunner, but UAB can’t afford to get into shootouts or fall far behind as they can’t trust the passing game to bail them out when someone solves the running game.
9. Southern Mississippi
Worst Loss: Louisiana Monroe (2-4) 21-20 week 2, next worst loss: Auburn 24-13 week 5.
What we learned: That’s an ugly loss against a team that hasn’t won since. Had USM scored even a single point in the last 20 minutes of the game this need not have happened. But a comedy of errors kept that from happening. This game proved USM isn’t really an offensively mature team yet. There may be talent but they are supremely capable of shooting themselves in the foot. One problem may be that USM generally isn’t great at rushing this season (1.7 y/attempt that game, average 3.4 yards with few explosive plays for the season). That makes it more of a hit or miss proposition to grind out another few first downs once you cross midfield. As a consequence if you can defend the pass, you can really feel good about keeping this offense down.
Worst Loss: UTSA (3-3) 20-3 week 6, Next worst loss: Wake Forest (3-3) 56-24
What we learned: I don’t like to say it, but after losing but looking good to start the season Rice’s offense seems in a downward pattern. UTSA managed to beat Rice by 17 points while only acquiring 178 yard of offense! Rice has thrown the most interceptions, but more importantly Rice isn’t good at third and long. And third and long happens quite a bit. Rices rushing attack is okay-ish, but not nearly good enough to make up for a passing offense that is not only scattershot (53% completions on the season) but also doesn’t go anywhere when the passes arrive (5.8 yards per pass attempt).
Worst Loss: @UMass (2-5) 49-31 week 4 Next worst loss: App State (3-1) 45-9, week 2.
What we learned: Across all 3 losses Charlotte scored a total of 7 points in first quarters, but no start was slower than 28-0 against UMass. Charlotte won the rest of the game, but it didn’t matter. So if anything it becomes clear that Charlotte is the easiest to beat at the start.
12. Old Dominion
Worst Loss: @Liberty (2-3) 52-10, week 1. Next worst loss: @Charlotte (2-3) 28-25 week 3
What we learned: I considered the Charlotte game, but the hurricane is such a logical excuse for that on the field disaster. Liberty is still not very good and the result just looks awful. To be fair this one too was kinda close until ODU completely lost the plot in the second half. I think what we can learn here (as well as from the Charlotte game) is that that that ODU (particularly with Williams at QB) is simply not yet tough enough on the mental side. They did better with the underdog role. It doesn’t help that ODU is really atrocious 3rd downs.
13. Western Kentucky
Worst Loss: Maine (3-2) 31-28, week 2. Next worst loss: @Luisville 20-17 week 3.
What we learned: Apart from Eckels not being the solution? That WKU really can’t trust its rushing attack, partially because it is not at all explosive. So far there was only one run longer than 20 yards this season.
Worst Loss: Northern Arizona (3-3) 30-10 (week 1). Next worst loss: @UNLV 52-24, week 2
What we learned: Well this was easily the worst loss for C-USA this season. If anything we learned that UTEP really started over below the ground floor when it comes to offense. There was not enough talent, but more importantly there was not enough system and not enough belief. We can also say looking at the series of results since, that UTEP at least appears to have found its floor early and has since improved.