Conference USA Football Rankings And Reactions, Week 9

    Week 9 Conference USA football rankings and reactions. Marshall and Western Kentucky remain neck-and-neck in the East Division. Ditto Louisiana Tech and Southern Miss in the West. Both divisions will be decided on the field on the regular season’s final weekend.

    November 2, 2015


    Conference USA Player of the Week

    Louisiana Tech QB Jeff Driskel completed 17-of-26 passes for 320 yards and four scores in the win over Rice.

    Week 9 Conference USA Football Rankings

    1. Western Kentucky: W, at Old Dominion 55-30

    The Hilltoppers continued to roll when it’s supposed to, scoring at least 49 points for the fifth time in the last six games. The only team to slow the Toppers was LSU in Baton Rouge a week ago. They’ve got upcoming games with Florida Atlantic and Florida International before closing the regular season with a visit from Marshall that should decide the East Division.

    2. Marshall: W, at Charlotte 34-10

    The Thundering Herd ran its winning streak to seven games, most of which have been lopsided and uncompetitive in the second half. Marshall plays at Middle Tennessee and home to Florida International over the next two weeks. But it’s the regular season finale at Western Kentucky that’ll determine who wins the East Division and whether or not the Herd can win back-to-back Conference USA crowns.

    3. Louisiana Tech: W, at Rice 42-17

    The Bulldogs hammered the Owls in Houston, evidence that they’re improving at the right time in the season. With the win, La Tech became bowl eligible for the fourth time in the last five years, and controls its own destiny in the West Division. The Bulldogs should handle North Texas and UTEP, though the season-ender with Southern Miss could have divisional implications.

    4. Southern Miss: W, UTEP 34-13

    QB Nick Mullens was on target and the defense hogtied the Miners as Southern Miss won going away for the third straight week, The Golden Eagles are bowl eligible for the first time since 2011, but they’ve got their eyes on a bigger prize. USM, like Louisiana Tech, controls its own destiny in the West Division, with the Nov. 28 winner in Ruston likely to move on to the Conference USA title game.

    5. Middle Tennessee: Bye Week

    Next week: vs. Marshall

    6. Rice: L, Louisiana Tech 42-17

    The Owls stuck to the 2015 script Friday night—beat the bad teams, bow to the good ones. Rice was never in its game with Louisiana Tech, snapping a two-game winning streak and slipping back to .500. Fortunately for the Owls, they’ll play three struggling teams, UTEP, UTSA and Charlotte, in November, so hopes for a fourth straight bowl invitation remain very much alive.

    7. Florida Atlantic: W, Florida International 31-17

    Nothing like hosting a rival to bring out the best in a sagging program. Led by a seven-sack effort from the defense, the Owls played their best of the year win for the first time since Sept. 26. Florida and Western Kentucky must still be played, so forget about some miraculous push to .500, but Florida Atlantic can use this final month to capture some momentum that can be carried into the offseason.

    8. Florida International: L, at Florida Atlantic 31-17

    Talk about a lost opportunity for Ron Turner’s crew. FIU began the weekend 4-4 and playing well. FAU, on the other hand, had just one win. But the Panthers’ road woes continued in this latest edition of the Shula Bowl. So, instead of being above .500, they’re a game under, needing to handle Charlotte and upset either Marshall or Western Kentucky to become bowl eligible.

    9. Old Dominion: L, Western Kentucky 55-30

    The 3-5 Monarchs, who’ve won just once since the middle of September, were predictably gashed by the Hilltopper offense. Old Dominion has won just a single Conference USA game in 2015, and with UTSA, UTEP, Southern Miss and Florida Atlantic on the November schedule, a longshot bid for the postseason is just that … a longshot.

    10. North Texas: W, UTSA 30-23

    After being paddled for seven consecutive weeks, the Mean Green finally broke through to leave behind UCF and Kansas as the last remaining winless FBS teams. QB DaMarcus Smith and RB Jeffrey Wilson had success on the ground for North Texas, which has played hard for interim coach Mike Canales. The Mean Green begins a three-game road trip at Louisiana Tech, Tennessee and Middle Tennessee before closing with UTEP.

    11. UTEP: L, at Southern Miss 34-13

    Unable to generate much offense—or stop the USM passing attack—UTEP failed to build on last week’s win over Florida Atlantic. And in so doing, the dream of returning to a second straight bowl game is fading for head coach Sean Kugler. The Miners are now two games below .500, needing to win three of the final four games with Rice, Old Dominion, Louisiana Tech and North Texas to get to 6-6.

    12. UTSA: L, at North Texas 30-23

    The Roadrunners squandered a fourth-quarter lead on Saturday to become North Texas’ first victim of 2015. By virtue of the loss, UTSA was officially eliminated from the postseason race, yet entered the discussion for this season’s worst Conference USA team. The Roadrunners finish the year with Old Dominion, Charlotte, Rice and Middle Tennessee.

    13. Charlotte: L, Marshall 34-10

    The 49ers haven’t won a game since beating Georgia State and Presbyterian to open their debut in the FBS. It’s been a season of tough lessons for Brad Lambert’s kids, who’ve come close to winning a Conference USA game just once, Oct. 17 at Old Dominion. Lambert knows what it would mean to Charlotte if it could break through this month versus Florida International, UTSA or Rice.

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