For you Conference USA traditionalists, we offer our sincerest apologies for what realignment has done to the state of football in your league. For those unaware of how much Conference USA has changed, we will attempt to explain it in concise fashion. Gone are perennial powers Louisville, Cincinnati, and TCU, as well as Army and South Florida. Added are WAC doormats of recent years SMU, Rice, UTEP, and Tulsa, plus Marshall. The result is a league comprised of 12 teams with a composite StatFox Power Ranking that places it just above the Sun Belt in terms of conference strength. The good news is this will enable the league to split into two divisions and hold a season ending conference title game. The bad news is that the league, particularly the West Division, is so watered down that an extra game could do more harm than good.
The most unfortunate aspect of the whole realignment situation surrounding Conference USA is that the league comes off of one of its finest seasonÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s ever, one in which its best team was being talked about on a national stage. Louisville was a legitimate BCS contender and its totals of 49.8 PPG and 539 YPG on offense stand as testament to that. Had they beaten Miami in one of the 2005 seasonÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s most exciting games, the Cardinals would have grabbed one of the at-large BCS berths. Elsewhere, four other teams claimed bowl berths, including Southern Miss, Cincinnati, Memphis, and first time postseason participant UAB. Louisville won the league title by three games last year and would have been a heavy favorite again, so naturally, the CardinalsÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ defection opens the door for several other contenders to emerge. UAB, Memphis, Southern Miss, and Tulane seem to be the most likely candidates. On the field, RB DeAngelo Hall of Memphis assumes the role as the leagueÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s biggest star and new coaches are welcomed in at Marshall and East Carolina.
Play On: @ Troy 9/10
Off a presumed loss at Tennessee, the mobile senior QB Hackney has a big game against inexperienced Troy. The Blazers are 15-6 ATS in September.
Play Against: @ UTEP 11/19
New conference foes go at it in Southwest Texas. Blazers find out first hand how difficult it is to win in El Paso.
Play On: Memphis 11/19
Southern Miss. is a superior home favorite with a 32-19 ATS record in Hattiesburg. The Golden Eagles have covered 12 of 13 vs. the Tigers of Memphis.
Play Against: @ Alabama 9/10
USM established themselves as a ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œBig Game KillerÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚