Conference USA Prediction
Over the last 10 years, there have been nine different programs to win the Conference USA football conference. Which team will escape the 2019 season with the crown?
According to oddsmakers, Florida Atlantic is favored to win the title, as the Owls have 7/2 odds. Other short odds to win are Florida International (9/2), North Texas (9/2) and Southern Miss (5/1).
FAU has the most name power in the conference right now as Lane Kiffin remains their coach. The Owls actually won the title in his first year, but were just 5-7 last season and 3-5 in conference play. FAU returns 13 starters this season. However, they lose over 2,000 yards in rushing from 2018.
Florida International hasn’t won CUSA, but the Panthers also have a big name coach in Butch Davis, who is 17-9 in his first two years with the program. FIU was 9-4 last season with a 6-2 record in the East, finishing one game out of first. The Panthers have 15 starters back this season, led by QB James Morgan, who had 26 touchdowns in 2018.
North Texas was 9-4 in 2018 with a 5-3 record in conference play. The Mean Green finished tied for second in the West division. North Texas has 12 starters back this season, including eight on offense. QB Mason Fine is considered a Player of the Year candidate in the conference. He threw for 3,793 yards and 27 touchdowns a year ago.
Southern Miss won the conference title back in 2011 and was a finalist in 2015. Last season, the Golden Eagles were 6-5 overall and 5-3 in conference play. The Eagles have 12 starters back this year, including junior QB Jack Abraham who threw for 2,347 yards and 15 touchdowns a year ago.
This conference looks to be pretty wide open, as the defending champs – UAB – has 9/1 odds, as does other finalist, Middle Tennessee. A team like Marshall has 13/2 odds and the Herd may actually be the best team. Marshall finished a game behind MTSU last year and went 9-4 overall. The Herd had a pretty strong defense a year ago with an average offense, but Marshall has seven starters back on offense, including four on the offensive line. I am not impressed with what I see from the other top contenders. Marshall is a team that I think can take the East with MTSU losing so many starters. The Herd will have the defense, and I think an improved offense to have the balance needed to win the conference.
Conference USA Championship Prediction: Marshall 13/2