CollegeFootballNews.com Preview 2017 Season Predictions: What Will Happen In Conference USA
Predicting everything that’ll happen this season in the Conference USA
What Will Happen? 5 Conference USA Predictions
1. Lane Good, Butch Needs Time
Conference USA might be loaded with great offenses, excellent storylines, and a slew of fun things to talk about, but all anyone on a national scale will care about is what Butch Davis and Lane Kiffin do in their first seasons.
While FAU might be just renting Kiffin – as he rehabilitates his image and career – he’s a whale of a coach who doesn’t get quite enough credit for being good at his job.
This is just good enough an Owl team to go bowling in Kiffin’s first year at the helm. But it’ll take a win over the Golden Panthers.
As good as Davis is, this FIU team will need a year to get things in place before being a major factor. It should be better with a more dangerous offense and a defense that still needs time after a rough campaign.
FAU needs to beat Marshall to get bowling, but it has a slew of very winnable games. FIU has to go to FAU, and it has few too many other road games to get to six wins without a fight.
2. The East Could Be A Beast
… if Marshall becomes Marshall again.
Yeah, the coaching will be stronger at FIU and Florida Atlantic, but they’ll have a rough time in a loaded division that should produce five bowl teams.
Old Dominion is coming off a terrific ten-win season and should be in the hunt for the East title with WKU at home, but the Hilltoppers should still be fantastic even with a new head coach – getting back QB Mike White should help.
Middle Tennessee has been slightly underwhelming considering the offensive talent, but if QB Brent Stockstill can stay in one piece, look out. The Blue Raiders will be deep in the hunt for the division title with a schedule against eight teams that didn’t go bowling.
And then there’s Marshall. Will it be the 2015 Marshall, or the 2016 version? Expect somewhere in between with at least seven wins and a bowl trip.
3. Louisiana Tech Will Take The West Because …
There might not be anyone else.
Southern Miss will be good enough to go bowling, but it has to go to Louisiana Tech and Marshall. The offense will get through the mediocre division, but it won’t be quite enough to play for the title.
North Texas won’t build on its bowl trip-2016 season, Rice and UTEP will struggle again, and UAB will have major issues in its first year back among the living.
UTSA will keep it rolling, getting to a bowl game for the second year in a row, but it’ll be Louisiana Tech’s division to take.
There might be a major turnover among the offensive skill spots, but Skip Holtz has enough returning firepower to get back to the championship game.
And, fortunately for the Bulldogs, they’re not in the East.
4. Conference USA Will Go 0-for-Power 5
Western Kentucky pushed Vanderbilt hard last year – and lost.
Louisiana Tech gave Arkansas a nightmare of a time – and lost 21-20. It also lost a shootout to Texas Tech.
UTSA pushed Arizona State hard in a nationally televised 32-28 loss, and FIU gave Indiana a ride in a 34-31 loss.
At least Southern Miss started out the season shocking Kentucky,
If the league can get one win over a Power Five team, it’ll be a success. But expect a slew of close calls.
What is the league in for?
Charlotte at Kansas State (not a chance), FAU at Wisconsin (nope), FIU at Indiana (watch out, Hoosiers), Marshall at NC State (if MU is good, look out), Vanderbilt at Middle Tennessee (it’ll be a fight), Middle Tennessee at Syracuse (no) and Minnesota (no), North Carolina at Old Dominion (UNC has to show up), Old Dominion at Virginia Tech (no), WKU at Illinois (maybe, if the Hilltoppers get up early), Mississippi State at Louisiana Tech (possibly the league’s best shot), North Texas at Iowa (no), Stanford at Rice (no chance), Rice at Pitt (nope), Kentucky at Southern Miss (50/50 shot), Southern Miss at Tennessee (sneaky good shot late in the year), UAB at Florida (uh oh), UTEP at Oklahoma (double uh-oh), Arizona at UTEP (sneaky decent chance), UTSA at Baylor (good ground games).
5. The Conference USA Championship Game Will Be …
Middle Tennessee over Louisiana Tech.
Louisiana Tech will get though the West without a problem, but it’ll lose to whomever emerges from the East.
The Blue Raiders have been close to being great. The offense rolled up 516 points last year, and it should do it again if Stockstill is Stockstill. However, the defense has to be far, far better than it was over the second half of last year.
Where will everyone end up? For all of the Conference USA Bowl Projections?