UAB are your clear Power Ranking leaders. They only received one vote in the AP top 25, and six in the coaches poll. That is what losing to Coastal Carolina does to you, I suppose. The Blazers came out on top of the big West division show down. Although they enjoy a two game advantage over LA Tech (head to head plus a one in the loss column) they still have one-loss Southern Miss hanging around.
The rest of the league is a mix of potential — unfulfilled and wasted — and so let us see where the beat writers and/or bloggers think they stand. Eight submissions this week.
First place votes are in ‘()’.
1. UAB (8) 4-0, 6-1 — Last week 1
The Blazers scored 19 points but more importantly, shut out Mason Fine and company in the second half. The defensive line is dominant and the run game reached over 200 yards yet again. There is some concern that the defense was lit up in the first half, but they more than made up for it and held the Mean Green to the lowest scoring output of the season. Great showing all around. If the Blazers keep this pace, the league title will be theirs.
2. FIU 3-0, 5-2 — Last week 3rd. ↑ one spot
The Panthers control their fate. A good defense paired with a quarterback who is leading the conference in efficiency is a recipe for success. The home game against FAU does not look so foreboding as it once did, and the real test will be November 24th against Marshall in what could be the semifinal game, as it were.
3. Louisiana Tech 3-1, 5-2 — Last week 4th ↑ one spot
Tech struggled against an improving UTEP squad. However much the Miners are improved that still does not bode well for the Bulldogs, who are over-reliant upon a great Jaylon Ferguson to win games for them. It can be argued that were it not for his play, the UTEP and UNT games could have ended differently. Of course, they do have him and that means wins. Suffice it to say that Tech is not playing as well as UAB. That does not mean they cannot finish the season with just the one loss. They need UAB to drop two games, however.
4. Marshall 3-1, 5-2 — Last week 6th ↑ two spots
The Herd got a nice win over FAU to establish themselves as contenders in the East. The pass game is still iffy, but outside of FIU, no one is going to challenge them on this. A nice bye week allows Doc Holliday to prepare for the trip to Hattiesburg for Southern Miss, but if the run game and the defense keep things up, this should come down to the final week against FIU in Miami.
5. North Texas 2-2, 6-2 — Last week 2 ↓ three spots
How the mighty Mean Green have fallen. The game turned on the three failed fourth down plays, and that is the game. It truly is a simple game. Mason Fine is still having an historic season and Nate Brooks just was named a Jim Thorpe Award semifinalist. The Mean Green still have plenty to play for but that does not include a return to the CUSA title game. This is where coaching and motivation are important and Seth Littrell will earn his million. This could easily fall apart in the wrong hands.
6. MTSU 3-1, 4-3 — Last week 5th ↓ one spot
Middle did not look great against a questionable Charlotte team. The 3-1 record belies some flaws, and while the Blue Raiders are just a couple of FIU slip-ups away from being top of the division, they do not look better than UAB. There are questions all around but if you have a Brent Stockstill you have a fighting chance.
7. Southern Miss 2-1, 3-3 — Last week 8th ↑ one spot
Homecoming saw a comfortable win over the Roadrunners, who have no offense. The record looks nice and Trivensky Mosley got a quote-tweet endorsement from the Judge himself Ito Smith, but the pick-six was yet another Jack Abraham interception. If the top of the conference has maybe one or two flaws, the middle of the pack has many. There are questions about this team but that does not mean they cannot sneak into the conference title game. Charlotte, Marshall at home, and then UAB are next (followed by Tech and UTEP). USM are unlucky to play that slate right when everyone is heating up. It is possible, but unlikely.
8. FAU 1-2, 3-4 — Last week 7th ↓ one spot
FAU was technically eliminated (mostly) from contention before North Texas was, but both participants in last year’s final are now out, contemplating the motivation for playing the rest of the season. Kiffin started a talented but young QB and got the kind of performances a young, talented QB gets you. The turnovers on the road are not unusual in that kind of scenario. FAU still has a 10-game home win streak and LA Tech is beatable. If the home version of FAU shows up, this should be a feel-good game.
9. Charlotte 2-2, 3-4 — Last week 9.
Credit to the 49ers for jumping out to a lead. Credit for the bold step in going for two after scoring a Benny LeMay long touchdown. Demerits for poorly executing that, and most other offensive plays until the very end. Charlotte are improved, but only just and probably not enough.
10. UTSA 2-2, 3-5 — Last week 10.
The defense used to be stouter. Southern Miss had their way for a bit — especially on the ground. There was a pick-six on a tipped pass that helped the scoring a bit. JoJo Weeks looked young but talented. It is a rebuilding year but you do not want to hear the press conferences discuss simplifying the offense in the team’s ninth game of the season.
11. ODU 1-4, 2-6 — Last week 11.
The Monarchs cannot win unless they make headlines. That crazy ending probably was more fortune than anything, but you take what you can get in this dreadful season. ODU is built for spoiling the rest of the East — and maybe West — with their explosive offense and penchant for crazy endings. Look out Middle Tennessee and North Texas. The Monarchs are coming for you.
12. WKU 0-3, 1-6 — Last week 12.
Western received at least one last place vote this week. It is deserved. Mike Sanford called for a 57-yard kick wind aided that fell far short. ODU saw the opportunity but Mike Sanford did not. Instead he gave Isaiah Harper — one of the league’s most dangerous return men — a chance. That is all the Monarchs needed.
13. Rice 0-4, 1-7 — Last week 13.
Rice actually received more last place votes than anyone. The point system and a couple of mid-range votes for the Owls helped them stay out of the bottom. They are not playing well, they look burned out and injured. That was all likely, I suppose, considering the early start to their year.
14. UTEP 0-3, 0-7 — Last week 14.
Your UTEP Miners look better every week and continue their trek through the best of the West. UTEP played at UTSA and looked better, losing late after Kai Locksley went out. They hosted North Texas and gave the Mean Green a scare before travelling to Ruston and losing on the final possessesion. LA Tech needed a 4th and 1 conversion TD from 42 yards out to pull ahead, and the Miner’s final drive — with the third string QB — ended after Jaylon Ferguson was too much. Next up: UAB at home. Count me among those who think the Miners will give the Blazers a game and then win against one of Rice, Middle, WKU, or USM. The streak is nearly over, folks.
Your players of the week:
UAB RB Spencer Brown, Marshall DL Malik Thompson, ODU KR Isaiah Harper.
Best game: UAB vs NT
Craziest Ending: ODU vs WKU, duh
Surprise score of the week: Marshall 31 FAU 7