2016 Conference USA Season Football Preview
Looking for Conference USA 2016 predictions? There are not likely to be any Group of 5 “Bracket Busters” coming out of Conference USA this season. There is simply not that one team that stands out above the others in that way from a national perspective, but this might wind up being one of the most competitive conferences this season as there is not likely to be a ton of separation from top to bottom and especially not from middle to the bottom in both divisions.
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Conference realignment definitely did a number on this group but it seems that things have stabilized, at least for now. Still it is perfectly OK if you are not fully up to speed on just who is in this league vs who is in the AAC and the Sun Belt.
There has been that much turnover and even I have to remind myself some of the time.
The following is a look at the top contenders in Conference USA and their odds to win the league title. There is a title game so division placement makes a huge difference.
Conference USA 2016 Odds: Southern Miss Eagles +300
Southern Miss was one of the most solid programs around for a long time. From 1994 to 2010 they won between six and nine games every year…then they exploded with a 12-2 campaign in 2011.
Shockingly there were 0-12 the following season and have slowly built themselves back to respectability, going 9-5 last year.
They are the top contender even though they lost coach Todd Monken who left for the NFL (OC Tampa Bay). New coach Jay Hopson (Alcorn State) finds the cupboard stacked with CUSA’s best returning quarterback in Nick Mullens, among 13 returning starters overall.
The CUSA West division is the lighter of the two so their chances of making it to the title game are really good. At these odds there is a lot to like.
Conference USA 2016 Odds: Marshall Thundering Herd +325
Marshall lost just three games a year ago and they have to like their chances to be even better thanks to the fact that they get to host Western Kentucky and Middle Tennessee, both losses, this time around.
The offense should be good once again with QB Chase Litton building off an impressive freshman season. Six other starters return on offense including a couple of linemen who earned all conference honours a year ago.
The question mark is on defense. A year ago they were far and away the best in the league giving up just 17ppg. With just four starters returning that is likely to slide. Still the offense may prove more than capable of making up that gap.
Even if the defense is average they should still win a lot.
Conference USA 2016 Odds: Western Kentucky Hilltoppers +325
The Hilltoppers have had one of the most prolific offenses in the nation the last few seasons.
They were able to hold onto their coach Jeff Brohm for another season but lose Brandon Doughby, the first team CUSA quarterback a year ago.
As they break in a new starter their schedule does them no favours with trips to MTSU, Marshall and Louisiana Tech, likely the second best team in the West. Plus they visit Alabama in week two which could take a few weeks to recover from.
I am confident the offense will be good no matter who they settle on at QB and likely more balanced than a year ago due to less experience at the pivot and the return of all conference running back Anthony Wales.
He is one of eight returning starters in total so there is a good base to stay really competitive once again this season. I would put their odds higher than Marshall’s though.
Conference USA 2016 Odds: Middle Tennessee Raiders +450
MTSU never really seems to move the needle but they are usually very competitive. They are in a really strong position thanks to the return of QB Brent Stockstill, the coach’s son.
Overall this team might not be as talented as the other contenders in the East division – see above but it is a key factor to have continuity there.
They split home and road with those teams and do not have to travel to Southern Miss so their schedule is pretty fair.
The offense should be good once again but the defense needs to get better as they seek to find six new starters.
The extra value is nice but I think they are well placed as the third best option in the East to win it.
Conference USA 2016 Odds
- Southern Miss +300
- Marshall +325
- Western Kentucky +325
- Middle Tennessee +450
- Louisiana Tech +600
- Florida Atlantic +1500
- Old Dominion +2000
- Rice +2000
- UTEP +2500
- Florida International +3500
- UTSA +10000
- Charlotte +15000
- North Texas +15000
Big 12 Conference: 2016 Prediction
What do you think about our Conference USA 2016 Predictions? Please leave us a comment below telling us how you think they’ll do in 2016!
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