The 2019 Conference USA Preview with the Game of the Year, Players of the Year, top pro prospects, big-time players who deserve a bigger spotlight, and more.
Conference USA Team Previews, 5 Things To Know
East Charlotte | Florida Atlantic | FIU | Marshall
Middle Tennessee | Old Dominion | WKU
West Louisiana Tech | North Texas | Rice
Southern Miss | UAB | UTEP | UTSA
Where’s the crazy Conference USA surprise going to come from this year?
It wasn’t a total shocker that UAB won the title last season, but WKU going from solid to disastrous? Florida Atlantic going from 11-3 unstoppable to 5-7 also-ran? Charlotte going from a 1-11 nothing-burger to a decent five-win program possibly on the rise?
In 2016, WKU was the league’s star and Marshall – after going 13-1 the year before – won three games. Rice won eight games and UTEP won seven in 2015, and combined to win four over the last two seasons.
In the East, Butch Davis has FIU in a position to come up with a massive season, but Lane Kiffin’s Florida Atlantic team has reloaded. Marshall is terrific and Middle Tennessee should be solid again.
Can WKU rise back up into a player under new head coach Tyson Helton, and will Bobby Wilder be able to get Old Dominion over the six-win hump?
The West is a little more clear-cut, but that’s only because Rice, UTEP and UTSA once again appear to be the league’s clunkers – but that only means at least one of them might be that team that shocks the world.
UAB has to rebuild, but Southern Miss has a killer team – at least on defense – and North Texas has another dangerous squad – at least on offense – and Louisiana Tech should get more of an offensive attack to go along with its D.
In the end, expect FAU, FIU and Marshall to battle it out for the East, and for USM and North Texas to be the top stars of the West, but as we’ve learned with this conference, don’t expect anything.
C-USA Team That Will Surprise
Surprise might be a bit of an overstatement for a team that’s supposed to be good, or at least bowl worthy. The difference should be the jump from okay to great, with a team that’s good enough to challenge for the Conference USA title with the offense to go along with a killer D.
The key will be to avoid the weird brain cramp losses – like last year against ULM and Charlotte – and if the Golden Eagles can do that, they should be in for a 2015-like season when they pulled off nine wins and got to the Conference USA title game.
– Southern Miss Team Preview
C-USA Team That Will Disappoint
The Blue Raiders won’t fall off the map, but this should be more like the 2017 season when they have to struggle to go bowling rather than last year’s run to the Conference USA title game. The biggest issue is the schedule – at Michigan, Duke, at Iowa, at Florida Atlantic, at North Texas. Start with that, and then add in home games against Marshall, FIU, and a dangerous Old Dominion team, and it’ll be a fight to get to six wins.
– Middle Tennessee Team Preview