We had ourselves an exciting week in the league. There are still some non-conference games on the schedule but for the most part we are well into the conference season. That means these power rankings are going to reflect the standings more and more.
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The league has been poor relative to its peers but that is all over for now. Winning a title is more impressive and more lasting than anything else. Quick, what was the conference’s record against non-conference opponents in 2013? Don’t google. Okay, who won the league title? Yes, Rice.
See? It matters who wins the league.
First some superlatives:
Highest Scoring Team of the Week: 69, Tech vs UMass
Lowest Scoring Team of the Week: MTSU, 13 to FAU
Best Scoring Defense of the Week: WKU allowed 8 vs Army
Worst Scoring Defense of the Week: Charlotte 48 to FIU
Most Total Yards: 689, Tech vs UMass
Lowest Total Yards: 206 UTSA vs UAB
Least Yards Allowed: 206, UAB to UTSAMost Yards Allowed: 563, UNT to USM
Most Rush Yards: Malcolm Davidson, FAU 21 carries 149 yards 1 score
Most Pass Yards: 421, Jack Abraham 29/36 3TDs
Most Receiving Yards: Quez Watkins 8 for 198 1 TD
1. Louisiana Tech 5-1, 2-0
The Bulldogs destroyed UMass in what amounted to a scrimmage. This is fun for everyone not wearing UMass colors as it can build confidence. It can also breed overconfidence and reduce sharpness. Coaches have to find the balance there.
The game next week is hugely important. It will tell us a ton about both the Tech squad and the USM team and give us a front-runner the rest of the way.
LW: First. Next up: USM
2. USM 4-2, 2-0
Beating North Texas this season is not overly impressive, but getting over on a team that has a three game win streak against you is very impressive. Twice in Denton and once in Hattiesburg USM lost to NT with either the better team or having had a solid chance to win (last year). This time, that all was taken care of in the third period as the USM superior offensive talent shown through. They scored something like five straight possessions against NT’s struggling defense. Mason Fine was knocked out in the late third and that was about it.
This week vs LT is even more important and will be tougher because Tech is a better team than NT, and the game is in Ruston. We are hyped.
LW: Second. Next Up: @Tech
3. WKU 4-2, 3-0
Hey — Army is a quality team. WKU is limited offensively — Ty Storey only 140 yards passing — but they deployed and executed a game plan to perfection. That tells us two things: Tyson Helton is a good coach with an understanding of his team and the opponent AND has his team buying in. Also, the defense is very good.
LW: Third. Next Up: Charlotte
4. UAB 5-1, 2-1
They blew out UTSA in a game they should have made look worse. You can credit UTSA for making it uglier and also self-harming a bit, but a win is a win. ODU is anemic on offense and the Blazers play much better at home. Clark’s crew is in a good spot if they can sweep the division they’ll be playing in the title game again. Their only loss was to East Division member WKU so beating the West slate as they go through conference play will make up the ground.
LW: Fourth. Next up: ODU
5. FAU 4-2, 2-0
The Owls are heating up a bit, getting wins that were not necessarily available to them last season. FAU was good in 2018 but suffered from some self-inflicted woods and the occasional bad injury. This season they had to figure out themselves amidst a tough schedule. Now that the league play has begun we have learned that they are going to be a tough out in this devision. Middle is not overly good, but they can beat you if you are not careful. The offense in this game was not great –too many field goals — but it did not matter.
LW: Fifth. Next up: Marshall
# This Tier is Iffy
The above are clear conference title contenders, with some flaws but nothing glaring. That cannot be said for the tier below. There are some lopsided teams with some bad losses already.
6. Marshall 3-3, 1-1
Marshall beat up on ODU, a team without an offense to speak of. There is a possible world where the Herd figure things out on offense enough to pull off some upsets in the East and make things interesting. Still, the specter of the terrible offense thus far looms over them and their fans.
Last week: 9th. Next up: @ FAU
7. FIU 3-3, 1-2
FIU makes a big jump simply because they are playing good ball right now. The league schedule looks easy enough (UTEP, @Middle, ODU) that they can make a run up the standings and put a little pressure on the leaders but bowl eligibility is the goal right now. The thing is, they pretty much need to win those three games as something like a favorite because the final three are tough. Shula Bowl, Miami, and then at Marshall, which always seems like a tough gig for this squad.
Last week: Thirteenth. Next up: UTEP
8. North Texas 2-4, 1-1
NT is in a tailspin right now. The offense looked okay for about a half, but then it fell apart. The defense is still growing and it really needs a powerful offense to cover for the mistakes. OC Bodie Reeder has his hands full. The glaring difference in playmaking talent and use of that talent was on display against USM. The Golden Eagles had quick strike plays to get their talent into space and NT had Mason Fine looking for anyone to get open.
Last week: Seventh. Next up: Middle
9. Middle 2-4, 1-1
Asher O’Hara has been the leading rusher for the past two games. That is not sustainable, nor is it super effective. This has been a better year than we had thought it would be, considering the loss of Kid Stockstill. I can see Middle beating NT and also losing badly to them. This team is capable of anything except greatness right now.
Last week: Eighth. Next up: @UNT
10. Charlotte 2-4, 0-2
This site was high on Charlotte and as we mentioned on the podcast, they kind of lost their self-confidence. They looked spry at times on offense in this last one, before kind of falling apart. WKU will be a tough game.
Last week: Sixth. Next up: @WKU
11. Rice 0-6, 0-2
The Owls of Houston are favored to beat terrible UTSA in San Antonio and well, it is time to put up or shut up. Rice has been on the cusp of winning and has put UAB and Tech to good games but there are no excuses against a team that may fire its coach soon.
Last week: Twelfth. Next up: @UTSA
12. ODU 1-5, 0-2
Bobby Wilder called himself the coach of the “best 1-5 team in the nation”. Sure, bud.
Last week: Tenth. Next up: @UAB
13. UTSA 2-4, 1-2
The knives are out for Frank Wilson. They all are saying something along the lines of what we wrote back in September, and hinted at last season. The offense is bad, and the excuses — err reasons are getting old.
Last week: Eleventh. Next up: Rice
14. UTEP 1-4, 0-2
The Miners fans are discussing the buyout, the offense is still terrible, and the fans are not filling the Sun Bowl. Last year’s impressive bump was due to the defense that graduated guys like Nik Needham, now of the Dolphins. They are all gone and it is still going to be a grind out in El Paso.
Last week: Fourteenth. Next up: @ FIU