Oct 18, 2014; Boca Raton, FL, USA; Western Kentucky Hilltoppers running back Anthony Wales (20) runs with the ball as Florida Atlantic Owls linebacker Andrae Kirk (45) pursues in the first quarter at FAU Football Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

During every college football season, there are a select number of games that really shape the standings in each conference. While Conference USA continues to fight for respect, it’s clear that Western Kentucky’s back-to-back titles have made them the team to beat.

Here are the eight games that will decide who plays in the Conference USA Championship Game this season.

Louisiana Tech at Western Kentucky, Sept. 16

This is the rematch from the 2016 Conference USA Championship Game. This game will clearly show us who is the team to beat in C-USA this season. These two teams have split their last four games. As last year showed us, the team that wins the regular season game won’t necessarily win the championship, but it will give us an early front-runner.

Southern Miss at UTSA, Oct. 14

This is a battle of what looks like the second- and third-best teams in the West. The winner of this game will position themselves as the biggest challenger to Louisiana Tech.

Western Kentucky at Old Dominion, Oct. 20

Old Dominion has never beaten Western Kentucky. WKU has also put at least 55 points on the board in each of their games against the Monarchs. If Old Dominion is ready to take the next step in their progression, this game is where they need to make their mark.

Southern Miss at Louisiana Tech, Oct. 21

Southern Miss has a two-game winning streak against Louisiana Tech. They’ve had the Bulldogs number, but their play against other teams has kept them out of the conference championship game. If the Golden Eagles can make it three straight against the Bulldogs, it will make it a much easier path to the championship game for Southern Miss.

Western Kentucky at Marshall, Nov. 11

After going 3-9 in 2016, can the Thundering Herd get back into the discussion in C-USA? Marshall is 0-3 in their last three games against WKU and hasn’t beaten them since 1996. This is a must-win for the Herd if they want to be contenders instead of pretenders.

Middle Tennessee at Western Kentucky, Nov. 17

Let there be offense! When these two teams hook it up on the gridiron, we know points will be scored. Unfortunately for the Blue Raiders, they’ve been on the short end of the scoreboard the past two years. This is a game that the Blue Raiders simply have to win in order to be able to take the divisional crown.

Old Dominion at Middle Tennessee, Nov. 25

These two teams are poised to be the top two contenders for Western Kentucky (although Marshall could have a say as well). If one of these teams can top WKU, then this could be the game that decides the division.

Louisiana Tech at UTSA, Nov. 25

This could very well be the de-facto West division title game. UTSA is on the comeback and looks poised to make a big jump this year but all roads to the West title go through Louisiana Tech.

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About Kevin Causey

Dry humorist, craft beer enthusiast, occasionally unbiased SEC fan, UGA alumni, contributor for The Comeback.