Apologies, sports fans. This week has been incredibly busy at CUSA Report HQ. This was in draft for a while, as CR worked through the laundry list of things that took some precendence.
Okay, back to the power rankings. UAB dominated and the voters — seven this week — had no choice there. The rest of the league is in a weird spot and is a little less fun at this point. FIU or Middle will compete with UAB for the crown barring anything ridiculous. UAB looks too good for either option.
First place votes in ‘()’.
1. UAB 6-0, 8-1 (7) — Last week 1st
The Blazers dominated a terrible UTSA squad and looked good doing it. If you are going to blow out a team, you should do it in the first quarter so everyone can tune out and watch other things while watching the scoreboard just in case. As it was, the blowout took care of things and the defense held it down the rest of the way.
This week the league released the tie-breaker scenarios and also added a new proviso about teach team ensuring they have their venue available for that game. That’s a little nod to the SWAC scenario. Silly of the league to come out with it so late.
2. MTSU 5-1, 6-3 — Last week 5th
Middle jumped all the way up thanks to the win over WKU and FIU getting handled by FAU. Middle is only technically in first place by the number og game played but that counts so we’ll let them enjoy it. For all the stuff written here about the possibility of a three-way tie in the West, there might be some tie-breaking scenarios in the East.
3. Louisiana Tech 4-1, 6-3 — Last week 3rd
Tech got throttled by Mississippi State and did the conference no favors in the conference power rankings, but they still are just a couple of long-shots away from representing the West.
4. North Texas 3-2, 7-2 — Last week 4th
The Mean Green have to find a way to muster the motivation to win out the rest of the way now that they have been eliminated at this point with the most talented — and successful — team in years. It is tough and it is a quality coaching challenge.
5. FIU 4-1, 6-3 — Last week 2nd
The Panthers were humbled at home in the Shula Bowl. We were skeptical of this team’s chances at winning the league considering the quality UAB has shown. If FIU can win out — including the showdown with Marshall to end the season — they will win the division and take on UAB. A league title will wash the ugly taste of failure out of their collective mouths but that blowout loss will sting for a long time.
6. Southern Miss 3-2, 4-4 — Last week 8th
The Golden Eagles jumped up and beat a good Marshall team in a battle of backup QBs and mistakes. This was the kind of win that is classic CUSA between two teams looking to recapture some past magic. USM survived and blew up Marshall’s shot at competing for a division title. Classic CUSA
7. Charlotte 3-2, 4-5 — Last week 7th
The 49ers had a “good” loss to Tennessee on the road. This is the kind of loss that they will be proud of — a 12 point loss in which they held Tennessee to only 14 points. The Charlotte defense has played well all season and that is why they sit in the middle of the division instead of the bottom. Charlotte travels to West Virginia to test themselves against a reeling Herd.
8. Marshall 3-2, 5-3 — Last week 6th
A bad loss. To be a champion, these kind of games need to be won. Southern Miss is dangerous, but not unbeatable. Marshall’s weaknesses — QB — showed up again. Some questionable coaching decisions — subbing in Green there? — also contributed. Bad loss.
9. FAU 2-3, 4-5 — Last week 9th
No change for FAU this week even though they obliterated a good FIU team. They showed the signs of the team that everyone expected to see again this season but the win only highlights the frustrating losses they’ve had all season. Can they duplicate that energy? Who is the best QB for this team?
10. UTSA 2-3, 3-6 — Last week 10th
This seems high. I suppose voters are giving UTSA credit for their two wins in conference and three on the season. I cannot imagine that UTEP would lose to UTSA if they played this week. The Roadrunners are regressing and it is not pretty. Sure, they played the best team in the league but they looked more like woeful Rice than UTEP. UTSA hosts an angry FIU.
Frank Wilson has lost the internet fandom, and the question remains whether or not the new AD and president would consider making their own hire. Wilson points to the number of young players playing and even compared his program to Clemson’s. Big promises.
11. ODU 1-5, 2-7 — Last week 11th
No one knows what to make of this ODU team that is coming off a bye, is talented, and at home against a North Texas team that has struggled to put a complete game together — even in wins! — and is now playing for pride. Everyone can see it going any way — from blow out by North Texas to upset victory on the strength of talented wide receivers. Such has been the Monarch’s season.
12. UTEP 1-4, 1-8 — Last week 14th
The streak is over! UTEP had a blowout going before Rice put together a little comeback. Those kinds of nitpicks can wait for some other day. This team has been trending upward all season and gave UAB, North Texas, and Louisiana Tech some good games before finally breaking through with a win against terrible Rice. Now they host MTSU and anything can happen.
13. WKU 0-5, 1-8 — Last week 13th
Not quite rock-bottom but close to it. Middle Tennessee-WKU used to be a big game with title implications and now it is a nice run-out for Middle. WKU does not have a absolutely clear answer at QB nor at head coach at this point. Like struggling UTSA, Mike Sanford is pointing to youth as the answer and hope for some time and patience.
14. Rice 0-6, 1-9 — Last week 12th
The season started promisingly but even Bloomgren is shocked at the results. The team does not even look as competitive as it did under Bailiff at the tail-end of his tenure.