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2017 Conference USA Football Predictions

College Football

2017 Conference USA Football Predictions: Who Wins?

Tight race in the East Division.

The previews continue with our 2017 Conference USA football predictions.

It may not be a conference getting much attention, but every now and then, they surprise us. Western Kentucky and Old Dominion were the teams to beat in 2016, but it’s a new year. Who will rise to the top when all the games are played this season?

2017 Conference USA Football Predictions: But First, The Preseason Poll

C-USA East
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders
Old Dominion Monarchs
Marshall Thundering Herd
Florida Atlantic Owls
FIU Golden Panthers
Charlotte 49ers

C-USA West
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
UTSA Roadrunners
Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles
North Texas Mean Green
Rice Owls
UTEP Miners
UAB Blazers

2017 Conference USA Football Predictions: Teams To Watch

Western Kentucky is the reigning conference champion. Importantly, they’re getting fifth-year senior quarterback Mike White back for one more go. White tossed 37 touchdown passes last year, which was second only to Louisiana Tech’s Ryan Higgins.

Speaking of, Higgins was a senior last year, and the Bulldogs must now replace their starting quarterback. Higgins was also Conference USA’s Most Valuable Player in 2016. His absence didn’t stop the C-USA media from picking Louisiana Tech to win their division again. Good things are being said about the heir apparent, J’Mar Smith. He’s a dual-threat quarterback, but if the Bulldogs are anything like last year’s team, they’re going to be a pass-first offense. Smith could add a new dynamic to the offense, if he works out under center. The assumption is that he will, and if so, it’s hard to see anyone passing them in their division.

Old Dominion and Middle Tennessee both had very respectable years in 2016. The expectation is for it to continue. In the case of ODU, it’s remarkable how good they’ve gotten in C-USA so soon after their FCS promotion. Hell, they didn’t have a program ten years ago. Meanwhile, the Stockstill-James QB-WR combination at Middle Tennessee will keep them afloat in their division race.

Western Kentucky is likewise impressive in that they keep winning despite coaching turnover. Really, it’s the ideal scenario for a Group of Five team. Be the place where people want to pay their dues for a few years and move up. As long as they keep replacing their decent coaches with other decent coaches, they’ll be fine. Mike Sanford is WKU’s fourth coach since 2012, but they’ve won two C-USA titles and been to four bowls since then.

We will also throw the UAB Blazers in here, as they got their football program back. It’s going to take time for them to recover, as they essentially gave themselves the “death penalty” because of budget cuts. Maybe they’ll stick around this time.

2017 Conference USA Football Predictions: Our East Picks

1. Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
2. Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders
3. Old Dominion Monarchs
4. FIU Golden Panthers
5. Marshall Thundering Herd
6. Florida Atlantic Owls
7. Charlotte 49ers

2017 Conference USA Football Predictions: Our West Picks

1. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
2. Southern Miss Golden Eagles
3. North Texas Mean Green
4. UTSA Roadrunners
5. Rice Owls
6. UTEP Miners
7. UAB Blazers

Even if Conference USA isn’t a factor, the College Football Playoff picture page is always live.

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