The non-conference season is the best and worst time to watch this league. There are too many games on, and it is nigh-impossible to watch that much football and form a reasonably informed opinion on everything. The best and most informed people are the die-hards that write and cover the teams and only those teams. This has and always will be true and CUSA Report believes it. That said, I did watch a ton of football and I have strong opinions about what happened. But you have been appropriately warned of that value.
1. UAB 0-0, 1-0
The Blazers came out and won, sure, but I was not too impressed in the *way* they did so. The class of the conference gets judged by a higher standard. Fans can be upset with me, or expect a little better. This is how it goes. That said, there is no program that definitely can say it is better than UAB hands-down.
Last week: 1st
Next up: at Georgia (ESPN2 2pm)
2. Marshall 0-0, 1-0
I had hot sports opinions about the Herd that suggested they would struggle under first year head coach Charles Huff. I looked really silly as I watched Marshall beat up on Navy. Now, the Midshipman could be terrible and whatever but there is no denying that Marshall looked like they wanted to win every phase. Every coach says that but the Herd looked hungry in all phases, and ran harder, tackled harder, and came strong on special teams. Impressive.
Last week: 4
Next up: vs NC Central (ESPN+ 5:30 pm)
3. UTSA 0-0, 1-0
Beating a bad Baylor made more noise in South Texas a few years ago, but beating Illinois was impressive. The caveat is that the Illini are a poor team that is rebuilding their program. The casuals and donors do not know this and will happily revel in the glow of the win. There is no problem with this. UTSA looked like the more physical, ‘Big 10’ team. There is some slight concern that the 10-point lead was nearly erased.
Last week: 3
Next up: vs Lamar (ESPN3 5pm)
4. WKU 0-0, 1-0
This is all predicated on the defense staying relatively stout and the offense getting really good. The start of the game against UT Martin looked sloppy, but Bailey Zappe threw for 7 scores and I think the overall bump in returning to a WKU “style” that won them back-to-back championships is a boost for morale. Big test coming up, however.
Last week: 5
Next up: at Army (CBSSN 10:30am)
5. Charlotte 0-0, 1-0
Big win over Duke. The marketing people at CLT have an easy job this week after the big win over Duke. The great: Victor Tucker and Grant Dubose dominating a clutch series that resulted in a a go-ahead score. The bad: Duke’s RB ran free too often.
Last week: 10
Next up: vs Gardner-Webb (ESPN3 5pm)
6. La Tech 0-0, 0-1
A team that lost getting a decent ranking? Yes, because they had a 20 point lead and we want to reward that. The gelling of the squad was a big point of emphasis and jumping out big and then losing is a great way to bring people together. You build confidence and also some focus. At least, that is the theory.
Last week: 6
Next up: vs SE Louisiana (ESPN3 6pm)
7. FAU 0-0, 0-1
Watching FAU get dominated by Florida was un-fun. Knowing that Florida is a good program and has a tough defense mitigates a longer fall but we were unimpressed by the performance.
Last week: 2
Next up: vs Ga Southern (Stadium 2:30pm)
8. Rice 0-0, 0-1
I cannot quit you, Rice. Well, more like I saw some good happening on the road until a meltdown in the fourth quarter. I do not know that that happens in CUSA and I think the Owls have a good season ahead of them. Still, eesh. Houston will be a test and an opportunity.
Last week: 7th
Next up: vs Houston (CBSSN 5:30pm)
9. North Texas 0-0, 1-0
No movement after a 30-point win? How, Sway? Well, NT was a one-man band offensively as Deandre Torrey ran for 244 and 3 scores. New QB Jace Ruder looked rusty, and NT’s stable of wideouts looked out of sync. The defense did some good things but allowed to long scores, bringing up scary memories of last years worst-ever defense.
Last week: 9
Next up: at SMU (ESPN+ 6pm)
10. FIU 0-0, 1-0
Beating Long Island is a good way to build confidence.
Last week: 11
Next up: vs Texas State (ESPN+ 6pm)
11. Middle 0-0, 1-0
A win over Monmouth == good.
Last week: at Va Tech (ACC Net Extra 1pm)
12. UTEP 0-0, 2-0
Are we being harsh for a 2-0 squad? No, we are not. Neither opponent is CUSA-caliber and the Miners struggled on offense (you are surprised?) against Bethune-Cookman. Wins are wins, however.
Last week: 12
Next up: at Boise on Friday (FS1 8:30 pm)
13. USM 0-0, 0-1
A terrible performance in a loss to South Alabama. Will Hall is self-effacing and making jokes to deflect the pressure (fine, good, and even clever) but that will not last long.
Last week: 8
Next up: vs Grambling State (ESPN3 6pm)
14. ODU 0-0, 0-1
Poor performance as they got dropped by Wake Forest. It will be a long season.
Last week: 14
Next up: vs Hampton (ESPN3 6pm)