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Post-Bowl Game Conference USA Power Rankings

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1. Tulsa: 11-3 (7-1)

2. UCF: 10-4 (7-1)

3. ECU: 8-5 (7-1)

4. SMU: 7-6 (5-3)

5. Rice: 7-6 (4-4)

6. Marshall: 5-7 (4-4)

7. Houston: 5-7 (4-4)

8. Memphis: 4-8 (4-4)

9. UTEP: 3-9 (2-6)

10. UAB: 3-9 (2-6)

11. Tulane: 2-10 (2-6)

12. Southern Miss: 0-12 (0-8)

Take a long, hard look at the final edition of the power rankings, because it's going to look a whole lot different to start next season.

Central Florida, East Carolina, Houston, Memphis, SMU and Tulane have all played their final game as a member of Conference USA. They're departing for the pile of rubble known as the Big East, so the league will have a lot of new faces in 2013.

Not to mention the fact that the Mountain West is reportedly interested in adding Tulsa to its league, so we'll see where that goes.

As for 2012, it really was one of the craziest seasons in Conference USA's history.

The conference's top two teams from last season went a combined 5-19, while only a third of the league finished above .500. Many people around the country cracked jokes on what appeared to be an extremely down year for the proud mid-major conference, but when bowl season came around, C-USA fired back.

Rice, who had to win five of its final six games to even make a bowl, put a 33-14 beatdown on Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl.

SMU, who had to pull the huge upset of Tulsa to even make the postseason, took full advantage by stomping a very good Fresno State team 43-10 in the Hawaii Bowl.

Central Florida looked good all season and didn't let up in the season's finale. The Knights crushed Ball State, 38-17, in the Beef O' Brady's Bowl to earn their 10th win of the season.

And of course, Tulsa's huge 31-17 victory over Iowa State was a banner win for the program and for the conference.

With Conference USA's only loss being East Carolina's close defeat at the hands of UL-Lafayette, C-USA finished the 2012 bowl slate with a 4-1 record, the best for any conference with at least three bowl teams.

The nation-wide conference realignment is far from over. As I referred to, the Big East is already falling apart and Conference USA is losing half its schools. It's a legitimate question to wonder how much longer Tulsa hangs around in C-USA if a better option does indeed come calling.

We'll have much more coverage throughout the offseason regarding Conference USA's new schools and where they stack up in comparison to the Golden Hurricane. But for now, C-USA can take solace in a strong finish to a shaky season.

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