Saturday, July 2, 2011

College Football Preview Part 3: C-USA

Good ole C-USA. Personally I'm glad the Frogs are out of there, but life goes on for the teams still holding it down in one of the Nation's most spread out conferences. Four Texas teams to talk about in this conference, so let's get it on!

MY Preseason Rankings:


1. Central Florida Knights-
UCF has owned this conference in recent years and this season could well be an audition for Big East inclusion: an opportunity the Knights will not likely squander. The East will bend to their will, except perhaps Southern Miss and ECU who should put up quite a fight. Still, UCF will be the team to beat in the C-USA Championship. So what else is new...

2. Southern Miss Golden Eagles-
If any team is going to step up and smack UCF off their East throne, it's the Golden Eagles. They have talent on both sides of the ball and a reputation as a tough team. Best of all, they get UCF at home in front of their small, but rowdy crowd. Look out ladies and gentlemen, we could have a spoiler on our hands!

3. East Carolina Pirates-
ECU is not awful by any stretch of the imagination, however they are in the process of rebuilding and that will keep them out of the division's top 2. There is still some good talent on both sides of the ball, so they should have no trouble snagging the #3 spot. QB Dominique Davis and his top target, Lance Lewis, could light up some C-USA scoreboards in 2011.

4. UAB Blazers-
The team with the coolest mascot in C-USA won't have the coolest season. But that comes as no surprise to anyone who has ever watched C-USA football. Their strongest suit this year is probably their offensive line, but there simply isn't sufficient talent around it to crack the East's top 3. ECU will likely be their biggest game and only hope at moving up in the conference.

5. Marshall Thundering Herd-
This year's Marshall team is a bit of an enigma to me. I feel like they have the potential to end as high as third or as low as fifth in the East. Southern Miss, ECU, and UAB are all home games for the Herd, but will it make a difference? This team still has some improving to do, but they might finish better this year than most are giving them credit.

6. Memphis Tigers-
No contest here. Memphis is the worst football team in the conference right now. They could be looking at a max of 2 to 3 wins, none in conference. Memphis fans will be eagerly awaiting basketball season.


1. Houston Cougars-
Although most seem to have forgotten about him, QB Case Keenum will be back this season and looking for redemption. Not to mention, he is surrounded by a considerable amount of talent. For this reason, I'm finding it hard to pick against the Cougs in 2011. They have a realistic shot at an undefeated season. Look out C-USA!

2. SMU Mustangs-
SMU is finally rising from the ashes of the death penalty and is on the brink of national prominence again. They will have to wait one more year though, as this year's schedule is a rough one. That's not quite a bad thing though, because next year will be the senior season for most of their best players. The future looks bright, and this season won't be half bad either. A third consecutive bowl is certainly something for this team to hang its hat on.

3. Tulsa Golden Hurricane-
Rounding out the top of a very solid C-USA West at a close 3rd is Tulsa. Led by QB, GJ Kinne, Tulsa is a frequent contender and this year will be no different. The difference maker and reason why I've picked them 3rd rather than 2nd, is they have a brand new head coach. Still, this year will be nothing to frown upon for Golden Hurricane fans.

4. Rice Owls-
Rice has had a rough road since their 10-3 season in 2008, but things are starting to look up. They return 17 starters this year, including a wealth of experience on both lines and at RB. Remember Sam McGuffie, the kid whose high school highlight tape was him jumping over defenders? Ya, he's their starting RB. If only their schedule wasn't such a beating, they would have a shot at bowl eligibility.

5. Tulane Green Wave-
Tulane is bad, but they certainly are trying to improve. A big reason they'll stay out of the West's cellar is that they don't have to play UCF or Southern Miss this year. That could be the only bright spot for this team besides an opening win vs SE Louisiana. You won't see the Green Wave in December.

6. UTEP Miners-
Before you start labeling Coach Mike Price as a failure, consider their recent success and also consider that the Miners go into this season missing 35.3% of their lettermen. This team will be rife with inexperience and play the role of hopeful upsetter while they rebuild.

Case Keenum, Houston
MY All-Conference Team:

QB- Case Keenum, Houston

RB- Zach Line, SMU

RB- Sam McGuffie, Rice

WR- Lance Lewis, ECU

WR- Damaris Johnson, Tulsa

WR- Patrick Edwards, Houston

Sam McGuffie, Rice
TE- Luke Wilson, Rice

C- Chris Thompson, Houston

OG- Joe Duhon, Southern Miss

OG- Clint Anderson, Tulsa

OT- Kelvin Beachum, SMU

OT- Jake Hicks, Rice

Vinny Curry, Marshall

DE- Taylor Thompson, SMU

DE- Vinny Curry, Marshall

DT- Dontari Poe, Memphis

DT- Elliott Henigan, UAB

LB- JG Davis, SMU

Kemal Ishmael #18, UCF
LB- Marcus McGraw, Houston

LB- Curnelius Arnick, Tulsa

CB- Emanuel Davis, ECU

CB- Josh Robinson, UCF

S- Omar Brown, Marshall

S- Kemal Ishmael, UCF

K- Danny Hrapmann, Southern Miss

P- Kyle Martes, Rice

Ret- Damaris Johnson, Tulsa

5 Games to Watch:

1. UCLA @ Houston: Houston opens the season at home against a team that not only embarressed them on the road last year, but injured Case Keenum and his backup. Revenge anyone? If Houston pulls off a win here, they could be smelling an undefeated season.

2. UCF @ Southern Miss: Huge conference game that should determine the East's representative in the conference championship game. Southern Miss plays in a hostile environment and UCF has some great talent. Sounds like a classic.

3. SMU @ Tulsa: Two great teams sparring for a shot at Houston and possibly the West title. Also a chance for SMU to prove how far they've come by beating a tough conference opponent on the road. Should be a lot of offense in this game.

4. Houston @ Tulsa: If Houston can put away SMU at home, November 19th, their final obstacle towards a Western division title and possibly undefeated season will be a roadtrip to Tulsa. This could be a huge challenge. Another shootout game with high stakes.

5. UCF @ ECU: Another opportunity for an upset of UCF. Road game against a quality opponent and conference rival. Sounds like a good game to me.

The previews march on next with a look at the PAC 12! If Utah is now in a BCS conference, is it suing itself? Either way... we need a playoff.

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