NCAAF: Conference USA Preview

August 18, 2010


Conference USA is very similar to the MAC in many ways. Both conferences have talented but not elite players, and both conferences are a breeding ground for up-and-coming coaches. However, this (specifically for the 2010-2011 season) is what separates the conferences: Case Keenum. The Houston Cougars, a member of Conference USA, is on the national radar to begin the season for the first time in two decades thanks to the gunslinger Keenum. Conference USA will be getting significant exposure this season if Keenum lives up to his lofty preseason expectations (he is on the short list of Heisman contenders). If it weren’t for Keenum, Conference USA may be an afterthought. However, they’ve presented their Case as to why their worth paying attention to, and it’s a pretty good one.

Team(s) With the Best Shot at a National Championship Bid

Even with Keenum, Houston can’t really be considered a legitimate title contender. Their strength of schedule isn’t good enough to propel them high enough in the rankings, and that’s assuming they go undefeated, which is unlikely in itself. Houston will probably be the class of C-USA, but they won’t be the class of the entire nation.

Watch Out! (Team That Could Surprise)
East Carolina

Skip Holtz is no longer the coach of the Pirates, but at least for the next few years, you can’t count them out of the C-USA race. These players are still Holtz’s recruits, are he recruited pretty well. ECU will need to fill major gaps on defense, but if they can do that, then they may be fighting for yet another birth in the C-USA championship game.

Out-Of-Conference Game To Watch
Houston vs. Texas Tech (November 27th)

A rematch of a great game from last year, the winner gets some Texas style bragging rights. New Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville doesn’t run the “Air Raid” style offense that Mike Leach ran, so this game may not turn out to be an offensive show like many people would expect. However, if Case Keenum is still in the Heisman race at this late stage in the season, a breakout performance could be all he needs to bring the first Heisman Trophy to Houston since Andre Ware won it in 1989.

In-Conference Game To Watch
Houston vs. Southern Mississippi (November 20th)

Just one week before their showdown with Texas Tech, Houston has an equally important matchup with the Golden Eagles of Southern Miss. This game will probably prove to be very important, as it could determine whether or not these teams get a chance to play for the C-USA title. Last year Houston won a shootout at home. Expect nothing less this year, as both teams have a quarterback with a cannon for an arm.

Conference Predictions

East Division

1. Central Florida (9-3, [6-2])
2. Southern Mississippi (8-4, [6-2])
3. East Carolina (7-5, [6-2])
4. UAB (4-8, [4-4])
5. Marshall (3-9, [3-5])
6. Memphis (1-11, [0-8])

West Division

1. Houston (9-3, [6-2])
2. Tulsa (8-4, [6-2])
3. Southern Methodist (5-7, [4-4])
4. UTEP (5-7, [3-5])
5. Rice (1-11, [1-7])
6. Tulane (1-11, [0-8])

Championship Game (Houston vs. Central Florida)
Winner: Central Florida

In case you missed one of my college football previews, I have put an archive on the left side of the site so that you can find which conference preview you missed more easily. Also, remember to vote on all the polls if you have not done so yet. Thanks again to everyone who takes the time to read my work.

– K. Becks

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