This was a bad week for the league in non-conference play in a bad season overall. North Texas and Marshall both hosted some AAC teams and were each destroyed handily. Elsewhere, the defending champion was beaten by a once-former champ and we have some buyout talkathon both UTSA and UTEP. There was an overtime game and there may be an early favorite out west.
The previous week’s first, second, fourth, and fifth place teams all faltered so there was some movement.
Let us go through some superlatives.
Highest Scoring Team of the Week: Florida Atlantic 45 vs Charlotte
Lowest Scoring Team of the Week: MTSU 3 vs Iowa
Best Scoring Defense of the Week: 13, by both USM vs UTEP, and WKU vs UAB
Worst Scoring Defense of the Week: Marshall 52 vs Cincinnati
Most Total Yards: FAU 557 vs Charlotte
Lowest Total Yards: 222 WKU against UAB
Least Yards Allowed: 222 UAB vs WKU
Most Yards Allowed: MT allowed 644 to Iowa
Most Rush Yards: Aston Walter, Rice, 112 on 20 carries 2 TDs
Most Pass Yards: Mason Fine, UNT, 353 on 35/55 2 TDs
Most Receiving Yards: Mike Lawrence, UNT, 120 on 9 receptions
CR’s OPOTW: Jack Abraham 19/28 351 yards 3 TDs
CR’s DPOTW: Kyle Bailey 2 INT vs UAB
CR’s STPOTW: Conner Bowler 332 yards punted vs FAU
Now let us rank these teams by the nebulous criteria called “power”
1. Louisiana Tech 4-1, 2-0
The Bulldogs were expected to compete for the league title again this season, but the hype was not as loud, even if the expectations were similar. Tech has beaten FIU and now Rice, a team that will give others tons of trouble, and is sitting pretty before a bye week. The run game was stymied, but J’Mar Smith scrambled for the winning points in overtime in Houston.
LW: 3rd. Next up: Bye Week (then UMASS)
2. Southern Miss 3-2, 1-0
This is high for a team with two losses, yes, but the offense is explosive in a league that has sieves for defenses, and self-harming offenses. Jack Abraham leads the league in passing yards per game, and Adams, Watkins, and Harris are all game-breakers. Winning in
El Paso is harder and especially for a team coming from Mississippi. This game was played in Hattiesburg and I have no idea why I had that confused for a bit. Slightly less impressive but everything else remains. The game in two weeks vs NT will be super important. That one is definitely in Hattiesburg
LW: 6th. Next up: Bye (then UNT)
3. WKU 2-2, 2-0
If we are going to praise Tech for being 2-0, we have to do the same for WKU. The defense was the story here, as the Hilltoppers took the ball from UAB QB Tyler Johnston III four times. In reality, there should have been more interceptions. The offense, however, was not good. WKU QB Ty Storey threw for only 189. WKU still has a negative point differential on the season.
LW: 7th. Next up: @ ODU
4. UAB 3-1, 0-1
The Blazers dropped a winnable game up the road in Bowling Green. Tyler Johnston was awful, throwing four interceptions and missing receivers all over. He had been tremendous through three games. He also should have thrown about seven in this one. The run game did not help out but the defense held WKU to only 20 points and 222 yards of offense. If the offense can play half as bad, the defense should still keep them within winnable distance.
LW: 1st. Next up: Rice
5. FAU 3-2, 1-0
The Owls had a huge victory in Charlotte. The 49ers had been rolling offensively before they were steamrolled by Clemson. The crowd was hype, the atmosphere was intense for this league, and FAU came out and showed they still are a good team with offensive talent of their own. This is three straight for the Owls, but they have questions at kicker.
LW: 9th. Next up: Bye (then Middle)
6. Marshall 2-2, 0-0
It is hard to feel good about Marshall after their offensive performance against Cincinnati. It is even harder after watching the defense. That unit is supposed to be the strength, and has played well — watch that game vs Boise — but this was bad all around. Things have to go perfectly for this team to win at this point, and that is simply not how football goes.
LW: 2nd. Next up: @ Middle
7. Charlotte 2-3, 0-1
This was an opportunity game. Again, the atmosphere was hyped, the situation was perfect and the 49ers did not rise to the occasion. Chris Reynolds struggled, was pulled for Kean and he subsequently threw an interception. There were plenty of opportunities to keep pace with FAU but the self-inflicted harm stopped the momentum. This team still can score, but two teams have figured out how to wrap up the run game and put pressure on the QB.
LW: 5th. Next up: Bye (then @ FIU)
8. North Texas 2-3, 1-0
The good news? NT is 1-0 in a winnable conference. The bad news? 0-2 vs Texas teams in non-conference play. The Houston game saw the biggest crowd in Apogee history. North Texas is 1-4 in record-setting attendance games in the building. Mason Fine said someone made a mistake on every pass play. Houston sliced up the defense a bit (expected) but the special teams (1KR TD, 1PR TD) really blew it open. The crazier fans are upset at Littrell’s big-game history. The reasonable ones are simply unhappy. Huge game in Hattiesburg vs USM after the bye.
LW: 4th. Next up: Bye (then @USM)
9. ODU 1-3, 0-0
The Monarchs are the Rice of the East in that they are losing but getting some respect with each L. They lost 24-21 to ECU but there was praise for QB Stone Smartt and the effort. The offense can barely move the ball but ODU makes every game a grind. Next week’s game against a winning, but terrible-football-playing WKU will be important but not beautiful.
LW: 10th. Next up: WKU
10. MTSU 1-3, 0-0
Let us commend the Blue Raiders for taking on tough competition. Let us also acknowledge that watching them get dominated by Iowa was un-fun. This was not close and the offense looks terrible. Sure, they may do something in conference play but let us also remember that watching your favorite team should be fun. I feel for Blue Raider fans out there.
LW: 8th. Next up: Marshall
11. Rice 0-5, 0-1
The Owls are continuing their strangely moral victory tour. The team is winless and yet commands respect. They nearly pulled out a win vs Tech but it suggests this team is this close to breaking through with a big win. Could that be next week against a UAB team that has its pride hurt?
LW: 11th. Next up: @ UAB
12. UTEP 1-3, 0-1
The Miners struggled against the powerful Golden Eagles, but they did only allow 31. The offense is banged up — everyone is banged up seemingly — and there does not seem to be a QB 1 on the roster. That might change against a poor UTSA squad, but the Runners did come off a bye week. This looks like the only option for a league win for UTEP this season.
LW: 12th. Next up: v UTSA
13. UTSA 1-3, 0-1
The offense is still terrible, and the defense is still the worst tackling outfit in the league. The question here on out may be if they can just be slightly better against a bad UTEP on the road.
LW: 13th. Next up: @ UTEP
14. FIU 1-3, 0-2
The bye week did not beat the Panthers, but the losses still remain on the schedule. WKU is 2-0 and has the head-to-head victory. Surely, the league title is still the goal, right? Well, there will be standings-watch going on in Miami from here on out.
LW: 14. Next up: UMASS
Thanks to @JCStandsFor__ for the catch. Had last week’s most total yards instead of FAU’s 557 this week.
Also thanks to David Scott for catching that I had Charlotte at 1-3