While our guys pulled out a big win in conference play, let us rank the other squads around CUSA.
My ballot last week:
- La Tech
- Southern Miss
- North Texas
My ballot this week:
- MTSU 3-1, 1-0
- WKU 2-2, 1-0
- So Miss 3-1, 1-0
- La Tech 1-3, 0-1
- ODU 2-2, 1-0
- Marshall 1-2, 0-0
- North Texas 2-2, 1-0
- UTSA 1-3, 0-1
- UTEP 1-3, 0-1
- FAU 1-3, 0-0
- Charlotte 1-3, 0-0
- Rice 0-4, 0-1
- FIU 0-4, 0-0
I think of the conference as tiered. The top four are pretty much clearly better than the rest. The next four are better — but not by much — than the last four.
As Middle Tennessee won a battle over a fellow CUSA Top Four member, they get moved up. It was a close battle and the Blue Raiders had to rally at home. They then came up big with a fourth down stop to win it. La Tech lit them up for 504 yards passing which says something but I do not know what. Ryan Higgins has CUSA’s second 500+ yard passing game this year. La Tech has to feel good about their chances but a loss like that really hurts. Both of these squads have WKU after ‘winnable’ games next week.
WKU tried to get bold at home vs Vanderbilt. Really, the fact that Vandy destroyed Middle Tennessee but had to go to OT vs WKU says a lot about the powers of these teams. Still, WKU has not really played well since that Bama game and MTSU has. So WKU is second.
Southern Miss rolled up an easy victory against UTEP in El Paso, which is not an easy task considering how good we thought UTEP would be and the travel distance. They were impressive and Nick Mullens tossed three TDs. The run game was the star here, as Ito Smith looked good again.
ODU beat up on a UTSA team that reverted to form. My fellow CUSA voters have been a little too high on the Runners after that performance against ASU. I saw it as more of a Sun Devil letdown than a Runner great game. ODU wrangled Dalton Sturm and forced two turnovers. UTSA has Southern Miss next and probably will not win vs an FBS school until they take on Rice in the middle of October. ODU has Charlotte and UMASS before going to WKU.
Marshall was steamrolled by the Lamar Jackson train on his way to a New York. I really cannot judge them for getting beat like every other Louisville foe has. This was worse until a late 21-point 4th quarter run made it slightly more respectable. Marshall does not look good and has Pitt before playing host to NT on the 8th of Oct.
We, of course went to Houston and got a 2OT win after being down 17 in the second qtr. Good on our guys. Rice was not that good but they were essentially playing for their season at home.
FAU was supposed to surprise people this season but they have not looked good at all. They dropped a home game to Ball State. They play host to FIU in a winnable conference opener next week that should help them plenty.
Charlotte occupied my lowest ranking for a while. They also were obliterated by Lamar Jackson and Louisville in a game that does not look so bad anymore. Still Temple handled them easily this weekend in Philly. They take on ODU at home next week.
Rice of course in a bad place. The most winnable game on their schedule in Sept ended in a loss despite North Texas gifting 17 points to start. Still Rice battled and came back from down 8 in a clutch drive. They managed to take the lead in OT but could not pull it out. Rice ran 100 plays for only 491 of offense. They have a tough game at Southern Miss next week.
Finally, FIU. They fired Ron Turner today after a 53-14 loss at home vs UCF. Oy.