The preview tour continues with a conference where games resemble those of Arena Football. Ok that’s a slight exaggeration, but the teams of Conference USA are some of the top scoring units in the country and this season should be no different. Of course the defenses of the conference were generally pretty bad last season, then again fans like to see high scoring affairs rather then a final score that looks like it came off a baseball boxscore.

Other Previews: MWC, SEC, ACC, Big 12, Pac 12, Big Ten

East Division

1) UCF
This is one team that could really surprise and possibly win the entire division. QB Jeff Godfrey is talented and there is big depth at RB, but the top 3 receivers from last season don’t return and several players must step up; same with the O-line. The defense will be solid with LB Josh Linam and CB Josh Robinson, but must replace uber-talented DE Bruce Miller.

2) Southern Miss
The Golden Eagles are as offensively talented as any team in C-USA. QB Austin Davis will be throwing to veteran group of receivers. The RB duo of Kendrick Hardy and Desmond Johnson will have one of the top O-lines in C-USA in front of them. The front seven will be productive, with all-C-USA DE Cordarro Law and LB Korey Williams included. The secondary will be the weak point.

3) ECU
This will be a pass-oriented offensive with QB Dominique Davis and WR Lance Lewis being a top combo. The running backs and O-line are inexperienced and could struggle. The defense, which is normally a strength, did a complete 180. They gave up a ton of points, including 76 to Navy. A ton of players will need to have somewhat productive seasons for the defense to be near ok.

4) Marshall
A counterpoint to the offensive bent of C-USA, the Thundering Herd struggled greatly, highlighted by the 114th ranked rushing defense, but there is no place to go but up. The defense was so-so, with a decent run defense and a inconsistent pass defense. Talented DE Vinny Curry is back to lead a solid front line, but the rest of the defense is questionable.

5) UAB
Bryan Ellis is the most underrated QB in the conference, though he will be without the top 2 WRs from last season. The O-line is solid if unspectacular and RB Pat Shed will be productive. DT Elliott Henigan is the big standout on defense, though the rest will need to step up.

6) Memphis
At least for fans, the basketball season will start relatively soon because football will not be great as they only won 1 game last season. Both the offense and defense ranked at the very bottom nationally in practically every category and there will be several new starters on both sides.

West Division

1) SMU
June Jones is known as a pass happy coach and will have QB Zach Pedron and a deep group of receivers to do just that. Though RB Zach Line did lead C-USA in rushing and will try to do so again with a very good O-line. The defense is underrated and returns several productive starters including LB duo Ja’Gared Davis and Taylor Reed and DE Tayl0r Thompson.

2) Houston
QB Case Keenum will probably end the season with several NCAA passing records and has WRs Patrick Edwards and Tyron Carrier to help accomplish that. The RBs are no slouches, though the O-line returns only 2 starters. The defense will be the team’s Achilles heel as the D-line and secondary will be among the worst in the conference, though the LBs will be solid.

3) Tulsa
Surprise, surprise another good offense. QB GJ Kinne was C-USA OPOTY last season. WR Damaris Johnson is the NCAA leader in all-purpose yards and will be key for the offense. The O-line returns all 5 starters, but the RBs will need to more productive. Following the theme, the defense struggled last season, though the tackling LB duo of Curnelius Arnick and Shawn Jackson was good.

4) Tulane
QB Ryan Griffin is productive and RB Orleans Darkwa could be a big breakout star on offense. However, the O-line will be in the bottom of the conference and the receiving corp will need big seasons for the offense to really click. That must happen because the defense did not deliver consistently last season.

5) Rice
An ok offense last season does not bode well for the Owls in C-USA. They have former Michigan recruit Sam McGuffie as the leading rusher and receiver from last season. OT Jake Hicks has all-conference talent, though the rest of the offense will struggle. A defense that gave up 38.5 points per game and tons of yards is not a good indicator for this season.

As bad as Rice will be, UTEP will top them. Only two starters return on offense and their biggest weapon, WR Marlon McClure, has been suspended indefinitely. The defense returns eight starters and that provides some optimism, though they will have to compensate for the offense in order for the team to reach a bowl.