Conference USA Football is looking to grab some attention this with games against power 5 conferences. Western Kentucky and Southern Miss both have chances to knock off SEC foes in Vanderbilt and Kentucky. If both can get W’s, it’ll help bolster a conference that looks to have seven bowl teams in 2016 according to our Conference USA football predictions.
2016 Predicted Records and Standings for Conference USA Football:
|RANK||C-USA EAST||W||L||CONF W||CONF L|
|31||Western Kentucky Hilltoppers||11||1||8||0|
|69||Marshall Thundering Herd||8||4||6||2|
|77||Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders||7||5||6||2|
|102||Florida Atlantic Owls||6||6||4||4|
|114||Old Dominion Monarchs||6||6||4||4|
|105||Florida International Panthers||4||8||3||5|
|RANK||C-USA WEST||W||L||CONF W||CONF L|
|51||Southern Miss Golden Eagles||10||2||8||0|
|62||Louisiana Tech Bulldogs||8||4||5||3|
|112||UTSA Road Runners||4||8||3||5|
|126||North Texas Mean Green||1||11||0||8|
2016 CONFERENCE USA EAST PREVIEW
1. Western Kentucky Hilltoppers – The defending Conference USA champs will be breaking in several new starters but with the entire offensive line returning, they should find the transition easier. The defense will keep them in games so they just need to find new playmakers to help the offense.
2. Marshall Thundering Herd – With eight starters back, the Herd look to have a stellar offense again this season. The defense has question marks. If it can come together, the Herd could surprise and make an appearance in the C-USA Championship Game. They test themselves outside of conference with games against Louisville and at Pitt.
3. Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders – Only five home games, make the 2016 season a challenge. The defense has question marks but Tyrone Nix should get the best out of them. Can Brent Stockstill and Richie James continue where they left off as freshman? If they do, C-USA better look out.
4. Florida Atlantic Owls – FAU installed an up-tempo offense and hopes to improve upon it’s 3-9 2015 season. They have the playmakers to be tough weekly in conference and should win enough to make a bowl appearance.
5. Old Dominion Monarchs – ODU enters its fourth year in the FBS and comes off a 5-7 season. With sixteen starters back, a bowl appearance is in sight. The key to the season will be QB. If they get solid play there, they break even and go bowling.
6. Florida International Panthers – With a three year starter back at QB, the Panthers are hoping he can lead them to a bowl appearance. FIU has been cursed with inconsistent play so getting everyone to show up on the same Saturday will be the key to the season. If they do, a bowl isn’t out of the question.
7. Charlotte 49ers – The 49ers come off their first season in the FBS. Players now know what to expect week to week and bring back 16 starters. That experience will help be more competitive but they’ve still got to upgrade talent to compete in C-USA.
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2016 CONFERENCE USA WEST PREVIEW
1. Southern Miss Golden Eagles – We project double digit wins for the Golden Eagles in 2016. Nick Mullens is back to lead the offense attack that was explosive last season. The defense improved a great deal last season and looks to continue that in 2016. They open at Kentucky and could make a big statement with a road win at an SEC opponent to start the season.
2. Lousiana Tech Bulldogs – The Bulldogs will see a lot of new starters in 2016. This has become a consistent winning program in the Group of 5. Anything less than a winning season is a disappoint. They have the talent to again be winners. The defense is the key to the season. If they gel early, this team could equal last year’s 9 wins.
3. Rice Owls – The offense is trying to rev up and go fast in 2016. A new QB will take over but being a senior, Tyler Stehling should be able to use his mobility to keep the game moving fast for the offense. With 15 starter returning, they should be better on the field but a tough schedule that includes Baylor and Stanford in the non-conference makes a bowl trip look unlikely.
4. UTSA Roadrunners – Frank Wilson comes over to UTSA from an assistant job at LSU and should focus on the ground attack. Look for him to use a ball control offense and try to control the line of scrimmage. The defense will need to step up and help them out. Look for them to improve on last year’s 3-9 record but it’ll take Wilson a couple more years to recruit a roster that can challenge in C-USA.
5. UTEP Miners – The Miners are going through changes on defense changing the scheme and with seven starters back should still see some pains in the transition. The offense will focus on running the ball which means they’ve got to have the defense keep them in games early as playing from behind isn’t their strong suit.
6. North Texas Mean Green – After only one win last year, they can only go up in 2016 right? We look for the status quo and one win for the Mean Green. The schedule is difficult. It’s loaded with tough road games and some of the upper tier C-USA teams visit.
CONFERENCE USA CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Western Kentucky vs. Southern Miss
CONFERENCE USA CHAMPIONS
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
Get bowl projections, preseason All-Americans and more in our 2016 College Football Preview.