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2013 CFN Final C-USA Rankings & Roundup
Posted Jan 13, 2014

2013 Conference USA Fearless Predictions, Game Stories, Game of the Week, Player of the Week, Roundup & Standings

CFN 2013 Final Season Rankings | The Top Ten
11 to 25 | 26 to 50 | 51 to 75 | 76 to 100 | Bottom 25
By Conference ACC | AAC | Big Ten | Big 12 | C-USA
Independents | MAC | M-West | Pac-12 | SEC | Sun Belt

The Formula's Components: 
1. Wins. - If you win, everything else falls into place. Each win counts as 1.
2. Quality Wins - The number of wins over teams that finished with a winning record. Each win counts as 1.
3. Elite Wins - The number of wins over teams that finished with two losses or fewer. Each win counts as 1 with a road win over an Elite team getting an extra 0.5. Also counting as 1 is a road win over a team that finished with three losses or fewer (but the extra 0.5 isn't added). A win over a team that finishes with three losses in a bowl game counts as one.
4. Bad Loss - The number of losses to teams that finished with three wins or fewer or a loss to a FCS (DI-AA) team. Each loss counts as minus-1. Take away an additional 0.5 for a Bad Loss at home.
5. Bad Win - The number of wins to teams that finished with three wins or fewer, or a win over a D-IAA team. Each win counts as minus 0.25. 
6. Elite Loss - The number of losses to teams that finished with two losses or fewer. Each loss counts as 0.25.
7. Point Differential - Points for minus points against divided by 100. 
8. Winning Percentage - To take losses into account, winning percentage is in the mix. Total wins is the tie-breaker followed by winning percentage.

Remember, these rankings are based on how good the seasons were overall, and NOT based on how good the team might have been. Number next to team is the final overall season ranking.

26. East Carolina (10-3)
2013 CFN Season Score: 15.52
2013 CFN Preview Preseason Ranking: 89
2012 CFN Season Ranking: 71

The Pirates did everything right but actually win something big. They didn’t even play for the Conference USA title, much less win it, but the offense exploded and a Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl win over Ohio helped the cause. The best win was a 55-31 beatdown of North Carolina, and the 59-28 loss to Marshall ruined the title hopes, but it was still a great season thanks to an attack that put up 52 points or more five times.

29. Marshall (10-4)
2013 CFN Season Score: 14.90
2013 CFN Preview Preseason Ranking: 83
2012 CFN Season Ranking: 84

How could the Herd be so high with a Conference USA title loss? Margin of victory, outscoring teams by total of 590 to 321 scoring 45 points or more eight times. There weren’t many outstanding victories, and six of the ten wins were bad, but a 59-28 blasting of East Carolina and a 31-20 win over Maryland in the Military Bowl helped the cause. Chalk up the 41-24 loss to Rice to a bad day at the worst time.

33. North Texas (9-4)
2013 CFN Season Score: 14.52
2013 CFN Preview Preseason Ranking: 109
2012 CFN Season Ranking: 89

Very quietly, Dan McCarney came up with one of the best and most stunning years of anyone in college football, taking his program to Conference USA and leading it to a nine-win campaign and a Heart of Dallas Bowl win over UNLV. There might have been a slew of bad wins, and the 2-3 start was a bit rocky, but the Mean Green beat a ten-win Ball State team along the way and went on a run of five straight wins and closed out taking seven of the last eight. While there was a strange home loss to UTSA to break up the fun, UNT also took down eventual Conference USA champ Rice 28-16. The point differential turned out to be a big, big deal, beating everyone but Ball State by double digits.

39. Rice (10-4)
2013 CFN Season Score: 13.19
2013 CFN Preview Preseason Ranking: 92
2012 CFN Season Ranking: 65

The Owls won the Conference USA championship – the season was a wild success. That was all that really mattered. They might have been embarrassed in the Liberty Bowl loss to Mississippi State, and they might have struggled in losses to Texas A&M and North Texas, but the 41-24 win over Marshall is all that matters. Five of the wins came against bad teams that finished with three wins or fewer, but Rice did what was needed to get the opportunity, and it made the most of it against the Herd.

70. Middle Tennessee (8-5)
2013 CFN Season Score: 8.48
2013 CFN Preview Preseason Ranking: 106
2012 CFN Season Ranking: 73

The Blue Raiders took to life as a Conference USA team starting out 3-1 and winning five straight games to earn an Armed Forces Bowl bid. The clunker of a loss to Navy didn’t sour a strong year with a stunning 51-49 win over Marshall to go along with all the wins over the miserable teams. Middle Tennessee won five games against teams that finished with three wins or fewer, and also beat Western Carolina. Big numbers helped the ranking – the offense put up 42 points or more in four of the final five regular season games.

79. Florida Atlantic (6-6)
2013 CFN Season Score: 7.00
2013 CFN Preview Preseason Ranking: 119
2012 CFN Season Ranking: 109

For good and bad, the Owls were among the biggest surprises of the season, losing head coach Carl Pelini to a strange scandal, but picking up after Brain Wright took over. He’ll have to give way to Charlie Partridge going on, and he’ll stay on the coaching staff after his team closes out with four straight wins including a season-definer over Tulane. Five of the six wins came against teams that won two games or fewer. The D allowed a total of 23 points in the final three games.

100. Tulsa (3-9)
2013 CFN Season Score: 1.71
2013 CFN Preview Preseason Ranking: 73
2012 CFN Season Ranking: 25

The perennial Conference USA power is going off to the American on a down note. A year after beating UCF for the conference title, the Golden Hurricane couldn’t find any consistency with the only bright spot an early win over a good Colorado State team. There were close losses to Rice and Tulane, but for the most part, the offense couldn’t keep up with the problems on defense. Tulsa scored 233 fewer points than it did in 2012.

113. UAB (2-10)
2013 CFN Season Score: -1.93
2013 CFN Preview Preseason Ranking: 114
2012 CFN Season Ranking: 107

The Blazer offense was okay, but the defense was a nightmare allowing 52 points or more six times and giving 63 to East Carolina and 62 to Southern Miss in the final three weeks. The two lonely wins came against Northwestern State and a one-win FIU, but the offense helped save the ranking from dropping into the abyss. On the positive side, three of the losses to decent teams – Troy, Rice and Middle Tennessee – were each by three points.

114. Louisiana Tech (4-8)
2013 CFN Season Score: -2.02
2013 CFN Preview Preseason Ranking: 90
2012 CFN Season Ranking: 37

It was one of the biggest drops of any team, going from a terrific 2012 under Sonny Dykes to a miserable first year under Skip Holtz. And why? The offense was a shadow of its former self, and while there was some rebuilding to do, the O should’ve been better than scoring 16 points or fewer in eight games. All four wins were against the miserable, beating Lamar, UTEP and one-loss FIU and Southern Miss teams. The bad losses to NC State, Kansas, Army and Tulsa killed the season score.

119. UTEP (2-10)
2013 CFN Season Score: -3.44
2013 CFN Preview Preseason Ranking: 112
2012 CFN Season Ranking: 106

The Miners were supposed to be in for a rough season, and things were even tougher than expected with the lone wins coming against New Mexico State and FIU and with bad losses at home to New Mexico and Tulsa. Going on the road for five of the final six games didn’t help the cause, but there weren’t any out-of-the-blue good wins for a team whose offense went dead cold – scoring seven points or fewer over a stretch of four games in five – over the second half of the year.

122. Southern Miss (1-11)
2013 CFN Season Score: -2.98
2013 CFN Preview Preseason Ranking: 111
2012 CFN Season Ranking: 124

It’ll be interesting to see what kind of an attitude the team has going forward. The offense was among the worst in the country all year long before exploding in a cathartic 62-27 win over UAB to close out the year and end a 23-game winning streak. The once-dominant Conference USA star lost at home to FIU, and didn’t come close against anyone else but Texas State in the opener. The D gave up 55 points or more five times.

124.FIU (1-11)
2013 CFN Season Score: -5.94
2013 CFN Preview Preseason Ranking: 115
2012 CFN Season Ranking: 103

The one-point win over a miserable Southern Miss team was the lone highlight for a team that got mercy ruled in a 72-0 loss to Louisville and got blown out by double digits by everyone but USM and UAB. The offense only scored more than 13 points twice – against USM and UAB.

/> C-USA Offensive Player of the Year
QB Rakeem Cato, Marshall – Cato shook off a rocky start to 2013 to become Conference USA’s most dynamic playmaker from behind center. He led the league with 36 touchdown passes, adding six more on the ground, while only get picked off on nine of 455 throws. And when the Herd needed him to be a leader, he outdueled East Carolina’s Shane Carden to win the East Division.

C-USA Defensive Player of the Year
LB Shawn Jackson, Tulsa – It was an awful year for the Hurricane, but not for its best defensive player. Even during the toughest times of the season, Jackson maintained his fire, intensity and penchant for making the big play. He did it all for Tulsa in 2013, racking up 124 tackles, a league-high 18.5 stops for loss, 5.5 sacks, five interceptions and three fumble recoveries.

3 Biggest Surprises
1. UTSA. In just their third year of existence—and first in Conference USA—the Roadrunners sure looked as if they belonged at this level. Picked to finish last in the West in the preseason, they wound up 6-2 in league play, capped by a season-ending five-game winning streak.

2. Tulane. Pegged for sixth place in the West Division before the season began, the Green Wave used a scrappy, opportunistic D to win seven games a year after going 2-10. Tulane has earned an invite to the New Orleans Bowl, its first postseason game in 11 years.
3. North Texas. The Mean Green’s best year in a decade has resulted in an unlikely bowl meeting with UNLV on New Year’s Day. Dan McCarney has done a terrific job of leading the program, which came within a Nov. 23 stumble versus UTSA away from capturing the West in its Conference USA debut.
3 Biggest Disappointments
1. Tulsa. Even after losing a bunch of starters to graduation, the defending champs looked as if they’d breeze through a watered-down West Division. Instead, Tulsa won just three games, while being in the unfamiliar position of looking up at the likes of Tulane, UTSA and Rice in the standings.
2. The kickers. Conference USA boasted two of the nation’s best kickers, Rice’s Chris Boswell and Tulane’s Cairo Santos, the reigning Lou Groza Award winner. However, both were uncharacteristically erratic, with Santos missing six field goal attempts and Boswell hitting just two-thirds of his tries.
3. Louisiana Tech. No, the Bulldogs weren’t supposed to duplicate last season’s nine-win total. But, a 4-8 mark, including some hideous performances down the stretch, will force head coach Skip Holtz to reevaluate his new team from top to bottom in the offseason.

Best C-USA Game of the Season
Oct. 24 Middle Tennessee 51 … Marshall 49
In the most exciting game of the Conference USA season, the Blue Raiders and the Thundering Herd went toe-to-toe for 60 minutes in a see-saw battle in Murfreesboro. The quarterbacks combined for seven touchdown passes, and both teams produced at least one 100-yard rusher, but the outcome wasn’t decided until Middle Tennessee’s Logan Kilgore located Tavarres Jefferson on a nine-yard walk-off touchdown pass as the clock expired.

Coach of the Year
1) David Bailiff, Rice 2) Curtis Johnson, Tulane 3) Larry Coker, UTSA

Grading C-USA
Rice: A … In blowing out Marshall earlier in the month, the Owls earned their first outright league title since 1957. They won 10 games, and all three of their losses came away from home to fellow bowl teams.

UTSA: A- … In just their third year as a program, the Roadrunners went 6-2 in league play, reeling off five straight wins to close the season. UTSA was picked to finish last in the West in the preseason.

Marshall: B+ … The goal was set at winning a title for the first time since 2002. The Herd fell one game short, losing to Rice in the league championship game.

East Carolina: B+ … The Pirates defeated North Carolina and NC State, major achievements for this program. However, getting blown out by Marshall was a black eye that kept ECU from winning the East.

North Texas: B+ … The Mean Green has enjoyed its best season in almost a decade, parlaying eight wins and a salty D into its first bowl berth since 2004.

Tulane: B … A rough November couldn’t erase the fact that the Green Wave is unexpectedly ending its 11-year bowl drought, a major step forward for second-year coach Curtis Johnson.

Florida Atlantic: B … The Owls recovered from the in-season dismissal of Carl Pelini to win their final four games and reach .500 for the first time since 2008.

Middle Tennessee: B … The Blue Raiders have earned a bowl game after being denied in 2012. Beating Marshall was the highlight of the regular season.

Louisiana Tech: C- … The loss of so many veterans was supposed to hamstring Skip Holtz in his debut. Still, 4-8 and six double-digit losses were tough to swallow for a program that played so well just a year ago.

UTEP: D … New coach, same old futility in El Paso. The Miners dropped 10 games for rookie Sean Kugler and haven’t weaved a winning season since 2005.

Florida International: D- … Someone needs to provide a refresher why Mario Cristobal was let go by the Panthers. FIU won once and averaged less than 10 points per game.

Southern Miss: F … Golden Eagles finally snapped the nation’s longest losing streak, but it took until Nov. 30 before capturing that elusive first victory.

UAB: F … It was Garrick McGee’s second year in Birmingham, yet the Blazers regressed, winning just twice. UAB takes a 62-27 loss to previously-winless Southern Miss into the offseason.

Tulsa: F … No amount of graduations can justify going from conference champs to 3-9 the following year, especially in a watered-down league. The Hurricane never got any traction, even going 1-5 at home.

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