By Kenny Howell
What better conference to profile on July 4th than Conference USA. This is the 5th part of my College Football Preview.
Several teams left and several new ones came in to the new look Conference USA. But I think the old school ones are going to be the ones that dominate the conference.
The team with the most favorable schedule and probably the best chance to win is Marshall. Marshall has a tough out of conference game at Virginia Tech, but the only tough road conference games are Tulsa and my alma mater, MTSU. I think they will split those games, and beat many people's favorite, East Carolina, at home to win the East. They also have the returning MVP of the conference, Quarterback Rakeem Cato. I think they will finish 10-2, 7-1 in conference.
East Carolina should be 7-1 in conference also, but they have a very tough out of conference schedule with games against Virginia Tech, North Carolina and N.C. State. 8-4 should be their finish.
On the West side, it is Tulsa's to lose. They are the defending champ, and a trip to East Carolina will probably be their only conference loss. Out of conference games at Oklahoma and hosting Iowa State should be losses as well. 9-3 overall, 7-1 in conference.
Rice and Louisiana Tech should be their closest competition, but I think Tulsa beats both of them, and they both end with two losses.
I think Marshall and Tulsa meet in the Conference USA Championship, with Marshall coming away with the title.
Conference USA East
1. Marshall (10-2) (7-1)
2. East Carolina (8-4) (7-1)
3. MTSU (5-7) (4-4)
4. Southern Miss (5-7) (4-4)
5. UAB (4-8) (3-5)
6. Florida Atlantic (3-9) (3-5)
7. Florida International (2-10) (1-7)
Conference USA West
1. Tulsa (9-3) (7-1)
2. Louisiana Tech (8-4) (6-2)
3. Rice (7-5) (6-2)
4. Tulane (4-8) (2-6)
5. North Texas (3-9) (2-6)
6. UTEP (2-10) (2-6)
7. Texas-San Antonio (0-12) (0-8)