2012 NCAA Football Betting Futures- Conference USA Season Preview
The face of Conference-USA will change dramatically heading into the 2013 football season, with a number of teams rotating in-and-out of the lineup, but for this year things remain the same for the 12-team mid-major.
The following is a look at a few of the top contenders to win this season’s conference title along with their odds.
Central Florida Knights
The Central Florida Knights have been tagged by many college football experts as the team to beat this season not only the East Division, but in the conference as well. The oddsmakers tend to agree and have opened UCF at +115 to win the division and +250 to win the conference. This will be the Knights last season in Conference-USA after deciding to join the Big East starting in 2013. They are coming off a very disappointing 5-7 record last season, but head coach George O’Leary is confident that this year’s squad can regain the form that led to an 11-3 record in 2010. Blake Bortles is expected to start at quarterback in UCF’s opening day matchup against Akron, but the key to winning it all this season will revolve around a defense that ended 2011 ranked ninth in the nation in points allowed.
The Houston Cougars rolled to a 13-1 record last season and despite a major loss of talent on both sides of the ball have been opened at +175 to win the West Division and at +450 to win the conference. This is another team that will be making its last run in Conference-USA this season before jumping ship to the Big East in 2013. A major reason for the Cougars’ success last season was quarterback Case Keenum, who is now in the NFL. Head coach Kevin Sumlin also departed for greener pastures at Texas A&M, so this year could wind-up being a rebuilding process for Sumlin’s replacement, Troy Levine. Houston returns just five starters on offense and it will look to David Piland to fill Keenum’s awfully big shoes. The good news is that Piland does have ample experience at the position after filling-in for Keenum in 2010, when the star QB was lost for the year due to injury.
Tulsa Golden Hurricane
The second-favorite in the West is the Tulsa Golden Hurricane, who have been opened at + 200 to win the division and at +500 to win the conference. Last season they finished 8-5 overall and complied an impressive 7-1 record in conference play. You can add Tulsa to the list of teams that will have a new head coach at the helm after Todd Graham bolted for Pittsburgh after just one season. The Golden Hurricane decided to promote assistant coach Bill Blankenship to the top spot in an effort to add some stability to the program. He inherits six starters on offense and seven on defense, so there should be enough talent and experience keep Tulsa in the thick of things in 2012. Cody Green, who transferred from Nebraska, has been named as the new starting quarterback for the Golden Hurricane, which could also go a long way towards improving their title chances.
Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles +500
Last season’s Conference-USA champions, the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles have been opened as second-favorites to win the East Division at +225 and at +500 to successfully defend their title. They went 12-2 overall and after posting a 6-2 record in the conference, knocked Houston from the ranks of the undefeated with a 49-28 victory in the Conference-USA title game. This success cost Southern Miss its head coach after Larry Fedora accepted the same job at North Carolina, but the program is confident it can remain on the winning track with Ellis Johnson at the helm. His first task will be to fill in quite a few holes on both sides of the ball with just 11 starters back from last year’s team. Chris Campbell appears to be the top choice at quarterback, but Ricky Lloyd will be waiting patiently in the wings if the Golden Eagles get off to a slow start.
The odds to win the conference for the rest of the teams in the East Division are East Carolina at +800, Marshall at +1000, UAB at +2500, and Memphis at +4000.
The odds to win the conference for the rest of the teams in the West Division are SMU at +500, UTEP at +1500, Rice at +2500, and Tulane at +3000.
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