Bad teams drag down C-USA football
The weak get weaker.
This is Conference USA’s most insurmountable problem in football.
The bad teams are off-the-charts bad. They are an albatross dragging the entire league’s image, profile and reputation down, down, down.
The sparse announced crowd of 18,502 that witnessed Marshall University’s 23-0 waltz of a win over a plucky but dreadfully outmanned UTSA team got a telltale taste of that concept Saturday in Joan C. Edwards Stadium.
UTSA is bad.
So bad, in fact, even Wile E. Coyote would catch these Roadrunners.
The problem for C-USA is UTSA isn’t even the worst team in the league. Not even close. At least three other squads are worse.
The Roadrunners have a 3-8 overall record and are 2-4 in C-USA. But fellow Texas school Rice is 1-10 overall and winless (0-7) in league play.
Then there’s bedraggled Western Kentucky, which is teetering on the edge of falling off the edge of the Commonwealth along with Louisville. The Hilltoppers are an abysmal 1-9 overall and also winless (0-6) in C-USA action.
And don’t forget UTEP. The Miners are 1-9 overall and 1-5 in league games.
Remember those two conference wins belonging to UTSA? Who does everyone suppose UTSA’s two conference victories came against?
Who else? Rice and UTEP.
See, the weak really do get weaker.
And who is the biggest loser?
Just consider the bad publicity the league gets from such places as ESPN that puts out a weekly “Botton Ten.” The most recent rankings had Rice at No. 1 as “THE” worst team in the country. Just below — or above, depending on the point of view — was Western Kentucky at No. 3 and UTEP at No. 4.
How embarrassing. How humiliating. How mortifying.
What’s worse, these bottom-feeding teams have a tendency to drag opponents down to their level. Think that didn’t happen in Marshall’s less-than-inspiring win over UTSA? It most certainly did.
Although the Herd’s defense played well, limiting UTSA to minus 29 yards rushing, 137 yards total offense and totaling five sacks, Marshall’s offense clearly lacked intensity.
That’s why Marshall kept turning prospective touchdowns into field goals. It happened four times in the first half alone. First, junior kicker Justin Rohrwasser booted a 26-yard field goal. Then a 21-yarder, followed by a kick from 25 yards.
What did the trio of field goals have in common?
They were all inside the red zone.
That’s not good.
But what’s worse is Rohrwasser also missed a 45-yard attempt wide right and then had a 40-yard field goal blocked.
That’s what happens when a team plays down to the level of competition. And that’s precisely what Marshall’s offense did.
“I thought our defense was sensational,” said Marshall coach Doc Holliday. “On offense, we had 500 yards, but when we get down there in the scoring zone we’ve got to score.”
More to the point, Marshall needed to score touchdowns.
“We’ve got to finish,” added Holliday. “We’ve got to finish with touchdowns. We took care of the ball, but we should have scored more points.”
That’s what bad teams do sometimes to good opponents. And all it does is make the better team look less talented that what it actually is.
It’s the curse of C-USA. And it has dragged the entire league down. Think not? C-USA is regarded as the No. 10 FBS league, ranking behind the Sun Belt.
Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at email@example.com.