The CUSA picture is just short of crystal clear now: FAU is the likely East winner and North Texas has clinched the West. There are two games before Dec 2nd and the rest of the conference is using that to get into a bowl, get some respectability, or play out the string.
Clear Best Team
1. FAU (last week: 1)
The league’s best team showed it again by going to Ruston and winning 48-23, using a 22-point third quarter to blow it open. Lane Kiffin’s boys have all but wrapped up the division thanks to an FIU loss to ODU. The Shula Bowl will not be for division supremacy but it will be for bragging rights. An unlikely scenario where FAU loses two straight will put FIU in the title game.
2. North Texas (2)
The Mean Green started slowly but ended where they should have against the league’s worst offense. Mason Fine threw for 4 scores and Jeff Wilson had himself a day, running for 144 and adding 58 recieivng. The west division belongs to Denton, and NT has two weeks to prepare for a rematch vs FAU in Boca Raton.
Bowling and Loving It
3. UAB (4)
UAB is 7-3 after completely dominating UTSA for 3.5 quarters. UTSA’s Dalton Sturm managed to brew up some heroics but UAB’s lead was too big to overcome even though the score looks close. A matchup in Gainsville with a reeling Florida might be the kind of thing that can really make this season special (it already is) for Bill Clark. It is all magic right now in Birmingham.
4. Marshall (5)
The Herd are 7-3 and 4-2 in the league after beating WKU in Huntington. That is a significant turnaround from last season’s 3-9 year. The Herd can’t be happy that they are long out of contention in the division. Still, they are going bowling and just have a couple of cross-division matchups remaining.
5. Southern Miss (6)
The Golden Eagles are bowling after beating Rice on the road in Houston. This season has gone as the QB has played, and this week Kwadra Griggs played well. He tossed 331 and 3 TDs. USM can finish at 8 wins before the bowl with victories over Charlotte at home and Marshall in Huntington.
Bowling In Sight, and Playing Well
6. MTSU (10)
Kid Stockstill came back and MTSU beat a bad team. UTEP and Charlotte were just the salve this program needed to perk up. Next up is WKU in Bowling Green, in a where-did-it-go-wrong bowl. The winner of this Friday night game will reach six wins and the loser will have all the pressure. After that, MTSU finishes with ODU at home.
7. ODU (11)
Oh the hottest team in Miami proper is hosting the Monarchs? Oh yeah sure, no problem. Old Dominion looked like the team the program leaders envisioned before the season, and even the team tha twon 10 last season. ODU can still scratch out bowl eligibility — that would be huge. Next up is Rice at home in Norfolk followed by MTSU. ODU needs both to go bowling.
Bowling, But Have Questions
8. FIU (3)
Losing at home to Old Dominion after hijacking the UM Game Day appearance is not a bad look. This is two losses when things could have gone well — the MTSU one being the other. FIU has Atlantic next week in a real test of where this team stands. The Golden Panthers are going bowling, however and so this wound will heal. It was a missed opportunity, however.
Bowling Is Close, But Playing Poorly
9. WKU (7)
Normally a loss to Marshall in Huntington would not be an issue. The Herd are a good team. However this makes three straight losses against teams that could be beaten. Middle Tennesee comes to town on friday night and the winner goes bowling. If Mike Sanford and company miss this opportunity there is always FIU on the road in Miami to close the season.
10. UTSA (9)
As UTSA walked off the field in Waco, telling them they would only manage two more victories by November 12, they would be shocked. After all this was the best Runner team since 2013. Here we are, with Frank Wilson’s crew staring down two straight losses and a Marshall team that has a stifling defense (number one in the league) and a Runner offense that consists of hoping Dalton Sturm can scramble his way into points. UTSA has yet to beat a winning team, and if they fail to win against Marshall in the friendly confines of the Dome, a trip to Ruston for a Bowl Eligibility Bowl awaits.
Need Two Wins to Salvage Pride, Season
11. La Tech (8)
It is hard to fault Tech for losing to FAU, since the Kiffin’s are so good right now. Still, two straight home losses to the West and East division leaders respectively is a tough beat. Tech had high hopes (rightly) and is now facing a fight for bowl eligibility. The good news is that UTEP and UTSA are left, and both have their own problems.
It Is Dark And Lonely Here
12. Rice (12)
David Bailiff’s team battles every week. They scored 30+ and made USM work for things in Houston. The problem is that has not paid off with wins. Moral victories may not keep Bailiff employed.
13. Charlotte (13)
The good news is that Charlotte managed to get points after being shut out by ODU last week. The bad news is that the result is the same: loss. The fight seems to have left the 49ers as they have a win – a league win no less – and are just playing out the string. Next up is Southern Miss and FAU, who are high powered offenses with opportunistic defenses.
14. UTEP (14)
UTEP was gifted a scoop-and-score TD against North Texas and were down only 7 (7-14) but did not do anything to make this interesting. The offense looked anemic against a secondary that has allowed big yardage. UTEP is in a bad way right now and are just going through the motions on offense. Winless Watch is not even fun, as LT and UAB should roll easily.