I did not vote in the Miner Rush poll last week on account of I was on a bye week, too.
My ballot this week:
- WKU 5-3, 3-1
- MTSU 5-2, 2-1
- Louisiana Tech 5-3, 3-1
- Southern Miss 4-3, 2-1
- North Texas 4-3, 2-1
- ODU 4-3, 2-1
- FIU 3-5, 3-1
- UTSA 3-4, 2-2
- Charlotte 3-5, 2-2
- UTEP 2-5, 1-3
- Marshall 2-5, 1-2
- Rice 1-6, 0-4
- FAU, 1-6, 0-3
Western Kentucky destroyed ODU this week, cementing themselves as the conference’s best. The Hilloppers wasted no time and came out firing on all (red) towels. They are probably past their worst stretch and are going to roll on teams (including NT) from here on out.
MTSU faced their toughest three game stretch — a good NT defense on the road in a trap game before a rivalry game that they barely lost in and finally an SEC team. The also should roll the rest of the way and are hoping WKU slips up one more time in conference play. That win over Mizzou is great for PR.
Louisiana Tech is atop the West but is the most likely to slip up between the two division leaders. They beat WKU but I can see them slipping vs North Texas and Southern Miss. This lead is not so solid. They are up-and-down each week. That said, they did handle a newly spry FIU.
SoMiss got to rest this week and have two cupcake games against Marshall and Charlotte in Hattiesburg in the next two. Well, they should be. After that a spry ODU, a good NT defense in Denton, and finally a big game with LaTech that cold decide the Div title.
North Texas gets the bump that everyone gets when they pull off an upset on people’s national radar. Sure Army is not the 1945 version, but they are a name and were favored by 18 at home. North Texas’ defense showed they are ferocious and opportunistic on their way to a huge win. NT takes on “rival” UTSA on the road this week at the Alamodome. No game has been decided by more than 8 points between these two, and each has come down to the final possession.
ODU was feeling themselves for a couple of weeks (rightly so) but got hammered against WKU. There is no shame in this. This program is improving and will do good things in the games and years to come. I am glad they are in the East.
FIU also managed a nice little run before getting beat down by a CUSA heavy. No shame in this. If WKU slips, the Panthers could be a dark horse for Div champs. Amazing turnaround.
UTSA has a nice-ish record and a resume win over SoMiss. But they have followed up that big win with two poor performances against the Division’s worst teams. Last week they needed Rice to implode on the final drive and this week they allowed UTEP to come to SA and steal a win. UTEP may not be as bad as Rice but UTSA was at home. A good NT squad comes to town this week and the Runners will figure out where they stand. They were North Texas’ only win last season and some measure of revenge should be on their minds, right?
Hey look at Charlotte out here getting wins. Any win for them is a program milestone as they try to do what UTSA, ODU are doing — and to a different extent what WKU, FIU, FAU have done. Marshall is bad but part of growing up as program is beating bad teams.
UTEP makes their slow climb out of the bottom of the power rankings. They beat an inconsistent UTSA team to being a run of games that are much easier than the first half of their schedule. ODU, FCS Houston Baptist, FAU, Rice, and our own NT are up for UTEP next. There is a real possibility they can end their season with 7 wins.
Marshall struggled through the ‘easy’ part of their schedule. They still have Southern Miss, MTSU, and WKU left and those look daunting. Also ODU and FIU are not pushovers. Marshall can finish 2-10 just as easily as UTEP can finish 7-5. Amazing.
Rice got their win against an FCS foe and looked good for a while until they allowed 44 points. Stanford is in a down year, but it looks like November is the best chance for Rice to steal a win. And it will be stealing, as they should be underdogs the rest of the way. Bigly.
FAU will be looking at Rice to get their only FBS/CUSA win of the year. Things look bleak.