Keeping Score

C-USA Top 5: UTSA, WKU put on shows in week 1

Some of you may remember my C-USA Top 5 series this summer that ranked some of the best players, coaches and teams in the league’s history.

I’ve decided to do a new version of C-USA Top 5 that will serve as a power ranking, listing the top five teams in the league. This will run every Tuesday on my blog at sunherald.com/keepingscore.

After highlighting the top five squads, I’ll provide five notes touching on the league’s highlights, lowlights and discuss whatever else is relevant that week. As part of the notes, I’ll always have a “C-USA Star of the Week” for the top player and “C-USA’s Worst Week,” which will discuss a program that is worthy of admonishment or one that is simply coming off an embarrassing week. 

Here you have it, this week’s C-USA Top 5:

1. Marshall (1-0) – The 42-27 win over Miami-Ohio wasn’t the most impressive season opener for the Thundering Herd, but it was a victory on the road nonetheless. Marshall will have to do much better in the coming weeks if it is to stay in the hunt for a major bowl bid.

2. Texas-San Antonio (1-0) – The Roadrunners’ win at Houston shouldn’t have come as a big surprise, but it was stunning how they completely dominated the Cougars, 27-7, on the night that Houston was unveiling its impressive new stadium. It’s still early in the season, but UTSA was by far the most impressive team in the West Division last week. UTSA has a chance to make an even bigger statement when it hosts Arizona (1-0) at 7 p.m. on Thursday in a game to be televised by Fox Sports 1.

3. Western Kentucky (1-0) – The Hilltoppers sent a message to the rest of C-USA that they might be capable of putting up a challenge against Marshall in the East Division. WKU thrashed defending MAC champ Bowling Green, 59-31, and has a pretty decent shot at knocking off Illinois on the road this Saturday. This should come as no shocker, but WKU is instantly relevant in C-USA.

4. Rice (0-1) – Losing 48-17 at Notre Dame is no reason to get down on the Owls, but it could get uglier before it gets better. Rice travels to Texas A&M for an 8 p.m. game on Saturday. 

5. North Texas (0-1) – The Mean Green went to Austin with big goals, but came up far short in a 38-7 loss to Texas. North Texas was truly awful on offense, accounting for just 94 yards total (15 passing). UNT has a shot to get back on track when it hosts SMU, which was just as bad last week in a 45-0 loss to Baylor. If North Texas loses this week, it may show that it’s not as big a threat in the West as anticipated.

5 NOTES

C-USA’s Star of the Week: Western Kentucky quarterback Brandon Doughty completed 46-of-56 passes for 569 yard yards and six touchdowns to help thump Bowling Green.

C-USA’s Worst Week: Florida International denied media credentials to its beat writer at the Miami Herald for the season opener against Bethune-Cookman. FIU likely wouldn’t be so concerned about perceived negative coverage from its beat writer if it didn’t have such a train wreck of an athletic department. If there is one school that C-USA may regret adding through its recent expansion it’s got to be the Owls. It’s a badly mismanaged outfit that will have a hard time competing with the rest of C-USA in most major sports for the foreseeable future. The only reason that C-USA invited FIU was because of its location in the Miami market. You would think the school would take advantage of every chance to receive coverage in its home market. Oh by the way, FIU lost, 14-12, to FCS program Bethune-Cookman on Saturday for a second straight season. 

Big Game: Texas-San Antonio has a chance to make a huge splash on the national stage if it takes down Arizona at 7 p.m. Thursday on Fox Sports 1. The Wildcats were good in a 58-13 win over UNLV to start the season, but the Alamodome should be rocking Thursday.

UAB rolls: While UTSA and WKU picked up the biggest wins of the week, it was surprising how easily UAB thumped Troy Saturday. The Blazers (1-0) won 48-10 over Troy, which has been a tough opponent of late for UAB. Bill Clark is off to a nice start in Birmingham, but Mississippi State (1-0) awaits at 1 p.m. Saturday in Starkville.

Is UTEP back?: A win on the road over a Mountain West Conference opponent is a nice way to start the season, but it’s difficult to tell if UTEP’s 31-24 win over New Mexico is a sign of things to come. We’ll find out much more about the Miners at 1 p.m. on Saturday when they host Texas Tech on Fox Sports 1.

THIS WEEK’S C-USA SCHEDULE

7 p.m., Thursday – Arizona at UTSA (Fox Sports 1)

11 a.m., Saturday – Florida Atlantic at Alabama (SEC Network)

11 a.m., Saturday – SMU at North Texas (Fox Sports Network)

11 a.m., Saturday – Western Kentucky at Illinois (Big Ten Network)

1 p.m., Saturday – UAB at Mississippi State (Fox Sports Network)

2:30 p.m., Saturday – Middle Tennessee at Minnesota (Big Ten Network)

5 p.m., Saturday – Old Dominion at N.C. State (ESPN3)

5 p.m., Saturday – Wagner at FIU (no TV)

6 p.m., Saturday – Alcorn State at Southern Miss (no TV)

6 p.m., Saturday – Louisiana Tech at Louisiana-Lafayette (ESPN3)

6 p.m., Saturday – Rhode Island at Marshall (American Sports Network)

10 p.m., Saturday – Texas Tech at UTEP (Fox Sports 1)

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