Week 12 is in the books and we are finally getting a view of how things are going to turn out in Conference USA. Unless Western Kentucky loses to Marshall AND Old Dominion beats Florida International, we will get the title game matchup we all deserve.
Currently, the conference sits at four bowl eligible teams with three more still needing to get one more win during Thanksgiving week. With that said, let’s take a look at week 12 of the college football season and what we learned about Conference USA.
When WKU and Louisiana Tech aren’t playing, the conference is irrelevant:
Admittedly, the slate of games for week 12 was a little tough to digest with Marshall/Florida International, MTSU/Charlotte, and UTEP/Rice being played. It should more than explain the lack of enthusiasm towards week 12 when Southern Miss/North Texas was the biggest game with the biggest consequences.
When WKU and Louisiana Tech aren’t playing, there really is no good reason to watch CUSA. MTSU could have been added to that list before losing quarterback Brent Stockstill for the season due to a collarbone injury. Without Stockstill, the Blue Raiders aren’t much different from Southern Miss or Old Dominion in terms of excitement. That is not a compliment.
Southern Miss is on the verge of a monumental collapse:
From a favorite to win CUSA with returning starters all over the offensive side of the ball, this was supposed to be the year that Southern Miss ran all over the entire conference. Even after putting together multiple uneven performances to start the season 4-1, they still looked like the only team between Louisiana Tech and the title game.
Then they completely imploded at UTSA in losing 55-32 followed by a 45-10 loss to LSU. Still, a win over Marshall put them at 5-3 and meant they only needed a single win out of the final four contests of the season to secure a bowl berth. An inexplicable loss to Charlotte, followed by losses to Old Dominion and North Texas, puts the Golden Eagles behind the eight ball with none other than Louisiana Tech coming to town.
Remember, this is a La. Tech team that still hurts from losing in such dominating fashion last year to Southern Miss with the division title on the line. No division title is up for grabs in this game, but do not expect Louisiana Tech to go easy on Southern Miss. A loss here puts Southern Miss at 5-7 and sitting at home after such high hopes for the season.
Three teams are playing for their postseason lives this week:
Currently, the conference sits at four teams that are bowl eligible in WKU, Old Dominion, MTSU, and Louisiana Tech. Three teams sit on the edge and need a win in the regular season finale to get to 6-6 on the year. Sure, there are chances at a bowl berth at 5-7, but I do not care to look at all of those silly APR tiebreakers until I absolutely have to.
UTSA, looking for their first bowl berth in school history, have the easiest path of the three. All they have to do is beat Charlotte at home. If they are unable to do that, they do not deserve the right to play in the postseason.
North Texas also has a reasonable shot at the postseason, needing a win over UTEP to get their sixth win. This is the same UTEP squad that got destroyed by Rice last week. Mean Green nation, start putting your deposit on bowl tickets because you will make it to the postseason.
Poor Southern Miss. From conference favorite to also ran in the span of a few weeks. The only good news heading into the season finale is the fact that Nick Mullens may actually play. They have been terrible on offense without their senior signal caller. The bad news is an angry Louisiana Tech team headed to town. If the Bulldogs play their A, B, or even C game, they should win this game handily.
Expect the seat to warm quite a bit for Jay Hopson as the USM faithful were burned not too long ago with the replacement for a very successful head coach. I hate to evoke the name Ellis Johnson, but some of the fanbase has to be thinking that after this last three-week stretch.