So the new American Athletic Conference, called the AAC (pronounced ACK!) is really just Conference-USA Plus. So I guess that makes the current C-USA, the Sun Belt Plus? Then the Sun Belt would be the SoCon plus, and so forth. OK, maybe a new Division 4 isn’t a bad idea after all considering that.
- Marshall Thundering Herd (7-1 C-USA, 9-3 overall). We Are Marshall! To be honest that was a pretty boring pedestrian movie. And I’m not just saying that because Matthew McConaughey was in it. But back to the predictions, this is one of two very chic BCS-buster picks (Fresno State being the other one). I can’t see the Herd climbing to those heights but they do have one of the best keep secrets in college football in quarterback Rakeem Cato. Expect them to sneak away with the East division crown.
- East Carolina Pirates (6-2 C-USA, 7-5 overall). The Pirates seem to be the most consistent of the Conference USA teams. Always in the hunt for a division title and a shot at the, um, “prestigious” Liberty Bowl. Unfortunately this year for them, Marshall has improved that much that they will once again be on the outside looking in and probably off to one of the less-prestigious bowls…like the Beef O’Brady’s Bowl (is that a restaurant chain or something?).
- UAB Blazers (4-4 C-USA, 5-7 overall). The East division is definitely the weaker division in this conference. Case in point…I predict UAB to be third in the east. But they won’t be bowl eligible. This will be done by losing three of their last four games of the season. So the third best team in this division won’t be bowl-eligible, yet the fourth best team from the west will be easily bowl-eligible and light-years better than the Blazers? Yep.
- FAU Owls (4-4 C-USA, 5-7 overall). It’s time for another change in conference. How many teams are doing that this year? Too many in my estimation. Anyway, the Owls won’t be half-bad. However, the, uh, leap from the Sun Belt (so to speak) will be enough to keep them from bowling. However, they are a Florida school. Eventually they will be really good and you could be looking at a team that might dominate this division in a few years.
- Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (3-5 C-USA, 5-7 overall). We have teams with Eastern, Western, Southern, Northern, etc. The fact that there is a team with Middle in their school name means we are officially getting ridiculous with this. What’s next, a South Central New York Tech team? Again, another team that will just miss out on the post-season.
- Southern Miss Golden Eagles (2-6 C-USA, 3-9 overall). The owners of the worst drop-off in FBS history reside in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. I was shocked to see the Eagles drop to the depths they went to last year. It was like a train wreck really. Well, at least it can’t get any worse (in theory and in record). I still don’t know how some prognosticators can pick this team to get back to a bowl though. Maybe it’s the whole “if you became that much worse in one year, you should be able to get that much better in one year” theory. Yeah I don’t buy it either.
- FIU Golden Panthers (1-7 C-USA, 2-10 overall). And since Southern Miss will be at least a little bit better this year, that leaves the Golden Panthers as the only team left. Hey, someone has to be last place, might as well be yet another newcomer to the conference.
- Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (8-0 C-USA, 11-1 overall). There are many experts out there saying that not only is Tulsa the class of the C-USA West (and not Louisiana Tech) but that Tech will have problems just making a bowl game this season. Not so fast. I am officially calling this my (kind of) upset pick of the season. I am calling for the Bulldogs to run the C-USA table (and even beat mighty Tulsa) in their first season in C-USA (coming over from the pathetic WAC).
- Tulsa Golden Hurricane (7-1 C-USA, 9-3 overall). Here’s the popular pick to win the whole conference (not just this division). I think if people actually read this blog, I would get a lot of hateful YouTube-style comments thrown my way by saying Tulsa will finish second in the division this season. But hey, second isn’t that bad. It’s not like we conform to the Ricky Bobby way of dealing with things (if you’re not first, you’re last).
- North Texas Mean Green (5-3 C-USA, 7-5 overall). Remember back when North Texas was the class of the Sun Belt? No? Well, OK I can understand you not remembering (or caring) that was the case. But it was! They reeled off the first four Sun Belt football titles and then decided to shit the bed for season after season since. I think finally they are on their way back and in a new conference to boot.
- Rice Owls (5-3 C-USA, 8-4 overall). I remember back when I played NCAA Football 2004 (or was it 2005?) for the friggin Gamecube and trying to win a game with this team. Unless it was on Freshman level you couldn’t because they ran the option. And not the smashmouth option that Nebraska used to run or that Georgia Tech and the service academies run. No, it was a shitty option with poor O-linemen and slower runners. Terrible………..Oh yeah, but Rice doesn’t really do that anymore so….yeah, good for them I guess. Allows them to go bowling more than once a decade.
- UTEP Miners (2-6 C-USA, 2-10 overall). The only major college team that feels like they are actually from Mexico. El Paso seems so un-Texas it’s ridiculous. Why doesn’t New Mexico just walk in and take it over? Anyway, the Miners haven’t been that relevant in quite a long time and if it wasn’t for the Sun Bowl every year (and why is that game on CBS? Makes no sense) many people might not know there was a football team in El Paso (or a college for that matter).
- UTSA Roadrunners (1-7 C-USA, 1-11 overall). A relative newcomer to the FBS, we have to give UTSA some time to get acclimated to the climate here. Yes it may only be Conference USA, but every year there are at least a couple teams from this conference that can hang with the big boys. Lucky for them, they have a great coach (Larry Coker) and a good fanbase starved for anything that isn’t the San Antonio Spurs. Give them about three or four years and this could be a C-USA contender.
- Tulane Green Wave (1-7 C-USA, 3-9 overall). So let me get this straight. Tulane struggles to stay out of the basement in Conference USA (and usually ends up there anyway). Yet next season they will be off to the American conference. Seriously? Wow, if they thought they had a tough time now. I think it’s high time for them to move out of the Superdome and into a smaller stadium considering they wouldn’t be able to fill a Texas high school football stadium these days.
Finishing with an unpopular pick, I will go with Louisiana Tech to win Conference USA over Marshall. Most have Tech as a middle-of-the-road team. I beg to differ. Hope they don’t play horribly and prove me wrong.
So there we have it. The end of my predictions. That took way longer than I expected it to take. OK, I lied. One more set of predictions and that’s how all this crap fits together come bowl season. And after that we wait for the season to play out. I might as well do a post at the end of the season showing how close my predictions are (a la Phil Steele’s magazine). Depending on the results it may be my first and last set of predictions.