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Conference USA Football: What We Learned On Week One

Nick Mullens will have to work for the 'Offensive Player of the Year' award, games still consist of four quarters and UTEP has a superstar.

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By Jeremy St. Louis (@jrstlouis

Conference USA is off and running and as a whole, I'd say it was a pretty good start.  If you're a Charlotte fan, you're obviously not happy with me at this point but it was just one game.  The good news is that Western Kentucky goes to Tuscaloosa this week and if Alabama play like they did versus USC, we could see a 50-burger hung on the champs.  Hopefully not but it would divert negative attention.

Anyways - here are five things we learned on week one.

Western Kentucky are ready to defend their title.

There were lots of questions about how Mike White would do as the replacement for Brandon Doughty and he answered them - with exclamation points.  His 517yds was tied for 10th most in a single game in C-USA history and he becomes just the third Hilltoppers pivot to throw over 500yds in a game.  Yes, he has some great pieces around him but you have to get the ball out and he made some outstanding throws.  Yes, it's week one but right out of the gate, WKU have picked up right where they left off - and that's BAAAADD news for everyone else.

 

FIU forgot football games are four quarters long.

The Golden Panthers were hanging in there versus Big Ten side Indiana. In fact they were up 13-12 as the 4th quarter started.  But then Ron Turner's team seemed to forget that a football game is four quarters in length, not three.  The Panthers completely went to sleep in the 4th quarter and allowed 22-unanswered points to lose 34-13.  It didn't help that QB Alex McGough tossed a pair of pick-sixes - including one in the 4th.  It was the first time since 1966 that Indiana returned two INTs for TDs in the same game.  FIU will give it another go versus The Big Ten when they host Maryland in week two.

 

Brent Stockstill fires early warning shot.

Middle Tennessee QB Brent Stockstill is not about to let Nick Mullens walk away with the 'Offensive Player of the Year' award without a good fight. Stockstill put in an outstanding first half performance versus Alabama A&M as the Blue Raiders routed the SWAC side 55-0.  Stockstill broke a school consecutive completions record in the second quarter and when halftime hit, his stat line read 30-for-36, 329yds, 5TD, 1INT.  Over to you Mr. Mullens...

 

Nick Mullens has a very short memory.

While Stockstill was putting in a virtuoso opening half in his game, Mullens was the exact opposite.  He tossed three INTs in the opening 30-minutes and the Golden Eagles found themselves down 35-10 before halftime.  But then he had his memory erased, came out in the second half and led his team to 34 straight points as they won 44-35.  Mullens ran for two TDs and threw two more to improve his stat line with some help from RB Ito Smith, who ran for 173yds in the comeback win.  The saying goes - good teams know how to win ugly...

 

Aaron Jones is everything we thought - and then some.

Going into week one, it had been 51 weeks since Aaron Jones took a handoff in a game and to say he made up for lost time might be an understatement. In the I-10 rivalry game versus NMSU, Jones took 31 handoffs and converted them into an FBS-best 249yds and 2TDs. He also caught three passes for another 43yds as the Miners won their 8th straight in the series - a new consecutive-wins record. The junior showed good vision and speed - and even made an outstanding play on special teams.  He is a no-brainer for C-USA Player of the Week.