One team scored 34 points and still lost by five touchdowns. Another lost by 17 points to a team playing its first game as an FBS member. Another gave up 343 rushing yards on 9.3 yards per carry. Another lost at home to some school called Tennessee-Martin. And yet another allowed 632 yards of offense and five passing touchdowns.
It goes on and on.
What do all these schools have in common? They’re all members of Conference USA, which was by all accounts the least impressive league in the first week of the college football season.
The conference went 2-10 in Week 1, with only UCF and East Carolina notching victories against less-than-impressive opponents (Akron and Appalachian State). The other teams piled up losses to members of the Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, Sun Belt, WAC and, yes, even the Ohio Valley Conference.
C-USA teams were slightly better against the spread, posting a 4-8 ATS mark, but they fell by an average of more than a touchdown against the number. (Houston’s 30-13 loss as 34.5-point favorites didn’t help.)
This is very much a league in transition, with two of the top teams—Houston and Southern Miss—undergoing coaching changes in the offseason.
But the most alarming part were the defensive numbers. Multiple teams offered zero resistance either through the air or on the ground (or, in SMU’s case in a 59-24 loss to Baylor, both). All but one C-USA team surrendered at least 20 points, and the league averaged 39.2 points allowed.
That’s a terrible sign going forward.
In Week 2, there are eight more out-of-conference games for C-USA teams. They’re favored in only two of them (both against FCS teams), and they’re double-digit underdogs four times.
Bettors probably won’t be lining up to back any of these teams.
Central Florida +17 at Ohio State
East Carolina +20.5 at South Carolina
Rice +10.5 at Kansas
UTEP +8 at Ole Miss
Western Carolina at Marshall -29
Memphis +23 at Arkansas State
Louisiana Tech at Houston +3
Stephen F. Austin at SMU -20