The Conference USA nearly won the basketball crown last season, with the University of Memphis' Tigers falling short vs. the University of Kansas in the NCAA Title Game. But, what about football in 2008 for the Conference USA? Will the Conference USA be relevant on a national level in 2008?
The C-USA has never been relevant in the BCS. Unlike Memphis in basketball, there really isn't a marquee name in the conference at a national level in college football. Tulsa is about the only consensus type team in the conference... the top pick in the C-USA West. One preseason magazine picked a C-USA team in the Top 25, with Gold Sheet picking Eastern Carolina #25. Tulsa is my preseason #25 team, with a strong offense under coach Todd Graham, entering his third season.
Top 20 C-USA OOC games for '08:
- West Virginia at East Carolina
- Louisville at Memphis
- Cincinnati at Marshall
- East Carolina at Virginia Tech in season opener
- Marshall at Wisconsin
- Tulsa at Arkansas
- Marshall at West Virginia
- Central Florida at Boston College
- East Carolina at Virginia
- Central Florida at Miami-FL
- East Carolina at North Carolina State
- SMU at Texas Tech
- UTEP at Texas
- Memphis at Mississippi in season opener
- Southern Mississippi at Auburn
- Houston at Oklahoma State
- Rice at Vanderbilt
- Tulane at Alabama in the Green Wave's season opener
- Tulane at LSU
- UAB at Tennessee
Street & Smith's Preview asked: And what does a Conference USA team have to do to sneak into the BCS Party?
"You have to go undefeated and win all your games," (new Southern Miss coach
Larry) Fedora says.
Tulsa appears the best candidate to go undefeated, but they were 3 games short in '07, so they have a lot of ground to cover in '08.
Who are the top teams in '08 for the C-USA in football (my picks):
- East Carolina ( 6-2 C-USA in '07)
- Central Florida (7-1 C-USA in '07)
- Memphis (6-2 C-USA in '07)
- Marshall (3-5 C-USA in '07)
- Southern Mississippi (5-3 C-USA in '07)
- UAB (1-7 C-USA in '07
- Tulsa (6-2 C-USA in '07)
- Houston (6-2 C-USA in '07)
- UTEP (2-6 C-USA in '07)
- SMU (0-8 C-USA in '07)
- Rice (3-5 C-USA in '07)
- Tulane (3-5 C-USA in '07)
- Biggest Game in '08: Oct. 26th - UCF at Tulsa (Sunday game)
- Biggest Game in C-USA East: Nov. 2nd - East Carolina at UCF (Sunday game)
- C-USA Title Game Prediction: Tulsa over East Carolina
- Coach of the Year: Todd Graham, Tulsa
C-USA has a lot of ground to cover to get to the level the WAC and Mountain West. Those other two leagues have crashed the BCS bowl party. It's been four years, since major realignment of the C-USA. Tulsa may sneak into the Top 25, but I see them more like TCU in previous years and coming up short.