Thursday, August 14, 2008

2008 College Football Conference Predictions: Conference USA

Not since Tulane made it undefeated through the regular season (and a bowl game for that matter) under Tommy Bowden in 1998, has any Conference USA team made a national name for themselves in a season. In fact, in the past 3 years, the most games a CUSA team has won in the regular season is 9. This year could be different. My pick to win the league is Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane wouldn't be listed among anyone's Top 10 in the country, but they are pretty clearly the class of the league, and the schedule suits them well. I don't know if they can get past Arkansas in Fayetteville on November 1st, but I do think they can run the table in CUSA. Defending league champion Central Florida will be strong again, as will perennial contender Houston. East Carolina appears ready to take the next step, and Memphis should be CUSA's most improved team. Southern Miss brings in a new coach after 17 seasons under Jeff Bower, SMU brings in a new system under June Jones, and UTEP is still rebuilding. If there were ever a year for another CUSA team to make a run at an undefeated season, this could be it for Tulsa.

Eastern Division
1. Central Florida Golden Knights (Predicted Overall Regular Season Record: 8-4, Predicted Conference Regular Season Record: 7-1)
Key Non-Conference Game: at Miami FL 10/11
Key Conference Game: at Tulsa 11/26
Key Players: OT Patrick Brown, CB/PR Joe Burnett

2. East Carolina Pirates (7-5, 7-1)
Key Non-Conference Game: at NC State 9/20
Key Conference Game: at UCF 11/2
Key Players: WR Jamar Bryant (former UGA signee), DE Marcus Hands

3. Memphis Tigers (7-5, 5-3)
Key Non-Conference Game: vs Louisville 10/10
Key Conference Game: vs UCF 11/22
Key Players: WR Duke Calhoun, DT Clinton McDonald

4. Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles (7-5, 5-3)
Key Non-Conference Game: vs Boise State 10/11
Key Conference Game: vs East Carolina 11/15
Key Players: RB Damion Fletcher, LB Gerald McRath

5. Marshall Thundering Herd (2-10, 1-7)
Key Non-Conference Game: vs Illinois State 8/30
Key Conference Game: at UAB 10/18
Key Players: TE Cody Slate, WR/KR Darius Marshall

6. Alabama-Birmingham Blazers (1-11, 0-8)
Key Non-Conference Game: vs Alabama State 9/20
Key Conference Game: vs Marshall 10/18
Key Players: OG Jake Seitz, S Will Dunbar

Western Division
1. Tulsa Golden Hurricane (11-1, 8-0)
Key Non-Conference Game: at Arkansas 11/1
Key Conference Game: at Houston 11/15
Key Players: RB Tarrion Adams, DE Moton Hopkins

2. Houston Cougars (9-3, 6-2)
Key Non-Conference Game: at Oklahoma State 9/6
Key Conference Game: vs Tulsa 11/15
Key Players: OT SirVincent Rogers, DT Phillip Hunt

3. Texas-El Paso Miners (6-6, 3-5)
Key Non-Conference Game: at Louisiana-Lafayette 11/8
Key Conference Game: vs UCF 9/27
Key Players: C Robby Felix, LB Adam Vincent

4. Southern Methodist Mustangs (3-9, 3-5)
Key Non-Conference Game: at Navy 10/25
Key Conference Game: vs Houston 10/18
Key Players: WR Emmanuel Sanders, CB Bryan McCann

5. Rice Owls (4-8, 2-6)
Key Non-Conference Game: at Vanderbilt 9/13
Key Conference Game: at Tulane 10/25
Key Players: WR Jarrett Dillard, LB Brian Raines

6. Tulane Green Wave (3-9, 2-6)
Key Non-Conference Game: vs Army 10/4
Key Conference Game: vs SMU 9/27
Key Players: WR Jeremy Williams, LB Evan Lee

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