2016 College Football Preview: Conference U.S.A.

Day two of THE Ultimate Sports Blog’s College Football Preview continues with a look at the best teams in the Conference U.S.A.

I know, I know. Settle down. The C-USA may not be the most exciting conference in college football, but they have the coach with arguably the best name in the entire sport (DOC F’N HOLLIDAY!) so that counts for something, right?

Anyway…let’s do it.




13. Charlotte 49ers


Last Year’s Record: 2-10 (0-8)

Last Year’s Bowl: No bowl game

Head Coach: Brad Lambert (2-10 at Charlotte)

Top Returning Players: Kalif Phillips (RB), Austin Duke (WR), Jamal Covington (OT), Larry Ogunjobi (DT), Nick Cook (LB), Terrance Winchester (CB), Tank Norman (CB)

Top Incoming Players: Kevin Olsen (QB), Robert Washington (RB), Benjamin LeMay (RB), Ryan Carriere (TE)

Toughest Games (for 2016): @Louisville, @Temple, @Marshall, @Southern Mississippi, Rice

Predicted Record (for 2016): 1-11 (0-8)

13. North Texas Mean Green


Last Year’s Record: 1-11 (1-7)

Last Year’s Bowl: No bowl game

Head Coach: Seth Littrell (0-0 at North Texas)

Top Returning Players: Jeffrey Wilson (RB), Bryce English (DT), James Gray (S), Trevor Moore (K), Eric Keena (P)

Top Incoming Players: William Johnson (LB), Nic Smith (RB), Mason Fine (QB)

Toughest Games (for 2016): @Florida, @Rice, Marshall, Louisiana Tech, @WKU, Southern Mississippi

Predicted Record (for 2016): 1-11 (0-8)

11. Florida International Panthers


Last Year’s Record: 5-7 (3-5)

Last Year’s Bowl: No bowl game

Head Coach: Ron Turner (10-25 at FIU)

Top Returning Players: Alex McGough (QB), Jonnu Smith (TE), Michael Montero (C), Anthony Wint (LB), Treyvon Williams (LB)

Top Incoming Players: Zachary Armour (TE), Hunter Orem (QB/LB)

Toughest Games (for 2016): Indiana, Maryland, Louisiana Tech, @WKU, Marshall

Predicted Record (for 2016): 3-9 (3-5)

10. Old Dominion Monarchs


Last Year’s Record: 5-7 (3-5)

Last Year’s Bowl: No bowl game

Head Coach: Bobby Wilder (19-17 at Old Dominion)

Top Returning Players: Ray Lawry (RB), Zach Pascal (WR), Melvin Vaughn (TE), Rashaad Coward (DT), Bunmi Rotimi (DT), Oshane Ximines (DE), T.J. Ricks (LB), Justice Davila (FS), Chris Kirtley (K)

Top Incoming Players: Drayton Arnold (QB), Marcus Joyner (TE), Bailey Cate (K)

Toughest Games (for 2016): @Appalachian State, @NC State, @WKU, Marshall, Southern Mississippi

Predicted Record (for 2016): 4-8 (2-6)

9. Florida Atlantic Owls


Last Year’s Record: 3-9 (3-5)

Last Year’s Bowl: No bowl game

Head Coach: Charlie Partridge (6-18 at FAU)

Top Returning Players: Reggie Bain (OT), Kelly Parfitt (OT), Trey Hendrickson (DE), Azeez Al-Shaair (LB), Ocie Rose (LB), Herb Miller (CB), Jalen Young (S), Dalton Schomp (P), Casey Winner (LS)

Top Incoming Players: Steven Frank (QB), Devin Singletary (RB), John Raine (TE), Kevin McCrary (DL)

Toughest Games (for 2016): @Miami, @Kansas State, @Marshall, WKU, @Rice

Predicted Record (for 2016): 4-8 (3-5)

9. UTSA Roadrunners


Last Year’s Record: 3-9 (3-5)

Last Year’s Bowl: No bowl game

Head Coach: Frank Wilson (0-0 at UTSA)

Top Returning Players: Jarveon Williams (RB), Kerry Thomas (WR), Marcus Davenport (DE), Kevin Strong (DT), Ronnie Feist (LB), Marcos Curry (LB), Michael Egwuagu (S)

Top Incoming Players: Jack Giblin (TE), Marquez McNair (WR), Jaquelle Green (CB)

Toughest Games (for 2016): Arizona State, Southern Mississippi, @Rice, @Louisiana Tech, @Texas A&M

Predicted Record (for 2016): 4-8 (3-5)

7. Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders


Last Year’s Record: 7-6 (6-2)

Last Year’s Bowl: Bahamas Bowl vs. Western Michigan

Head Coach: Rick Stockstill (64-61 at Middle Tennessee)

Top Returning Players: Brent Stockstill (QB), Chandler Brewer (OG), Maurquice Shakir (OT), Daniel Stephens (C), Steven Rhodes (DE), Shaquille Huff (DT), Jimal McBride (DT), Jeremy Cutrer (CB), Michael Minter (CB), William Eads (LS)

Top Incoming Players: Kyle Banks (QB), Crew Holts (K)

Toughest Games (for 2016): @Vanderbilt, @Bowling Green, Louisiana Tech, WKU, @Missouri, @Marshall

Predicted Record (for 2016): 5-7 (4-4)

6. UTEP Miners


Last Year’s Record: 5-7 (3-5)

Last Year’s Bowl: No bowl game

Head Coach: Sean Kugler (14-23 at UTEP)

Top Returning Players: Aaron Jones (RB), Hayden Plinke (TE), Will Hernandez (OG), Nick Usher (DE), Alvin Jones (LB), Devin Cockrell (LB), Michael Lewis (S), Jay Mattox (K), Alan Luna (P), Jacquan White (PR)

Top Incoming Players: Amorama Noel (TE)

Toughest Games (for 2016): @Texas, Southern Mississippi, @Louisiana Tech, @Rice

Predicted Record (for 2016): 7-5 (4-4)

5. Rice Owls


Last Year’s Record: 5-7 (3-5)

Last Year’s Bowl: No bowl game

Head Coach: David Bailiff (53-60 at Rice)

Top Returning Players: Zach Wright (WR), Connor Cella (TE), Peter Godber (OG), Alex Lyons (LB)

Top Incoming Players: Sam Glaesmann (QB), Jonathan Sanchez (TE)

Toughest Games (for 2016): @WKU, Baylor, @Southern Mississippi, @Louisiana Tech, @Stanford

Predicted Record (for 2016): 7-5 (5-3)

4. Marshall Thundering Herd


Last Year’s Record: 10-3 (6-2)

Last Year’s Bowl: St. Petersburg Bowl vs. UConn

Head Coach: Doc Holliday (50-28 at Marshall)

Top Returning Players: Chase Litton (QB), Deon-Tay McManus (WR), Ryan Yurachek (TE), Michael Selby (OG), Clint Van Horn (OT), Jordan Dowrey (OG), Gary Thompson (DE), Davon Durant (LB), Tiquan Lang (S), Kendall Gant (S)

Top Incoming Players: Xavier Gaines (QB), Garet Morrell (QB), JaQua Daniels (RB), Cody Mitchell (TE), Pro Wells (TE), Jaquan Yulee (LB), C.J. Reavis (DB), Sir Patrick Scott (DB)

Toughest Games (for 2016): Louisville, @Pittsburgh, @Southern Mississippi, WKU

Predicted Record (for 2016): 9-3 (7-1)

4. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs 


Last Year’s Record: 9-4 (6-2)

Last Year’s Bowl: New Orleans Bowl vs. Arkansas State

Head Coach: Skip Holtz (22-17 at Louisiana Tech)

Top Returning Players: Trent Taylor (WR), Carlos Henderson (WR), Darrell Brown (OT), David Mahaffey (OC), Jaylon Ferguson (DE), Dalton Santos (LB), Ronald Lewis (CB), Xavier Woods (S), Jonathan Barnes (K)

Top Incoming Players: Jack Abraham (QB), Zach Cousar (TE), Josh Outlaw (OL), Willie Baker (DL), Ka’Derrion Mason (DL)

Toughest Games (for 2016): @Arkansas, @Texas Tech, WKU, Rice, @Southern Mississippi

Predicted Record (for 2016): 9-3 (7-1)

2. Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles


Last Year’s Record: 9-5 (7-1)

Last Year’s Bowl: Heart of Dallas Bowl vs. Washington

Head Coach: Jay Hopson (0-0 at Southern Mississippi)

Top Returning Players: Nick Mullens (QB), Ito Smith (RB), D.J. Thompson (WR), Cameron Tom (C), Devin Farrior (OG), Brandon Farmer (OG), Dylan Bradley (DT), D’Nerius Antoine (S)

Top Incoming Players: Keon Howard (QB), Kwadra Griggs (QB), JaCorey Morris (LB)

Toughest Games (for 2016): @Kentucky, Rice, @LSU, Marshall, Louisiana Tech

Conference U.S.A. Championship Game: vs. Western Kentucky (L)

Predicted Record (for 2016): 9-4 (7-1)

1. Western Kentucky Hilltoppers


Last Year’s Record: 12-2 (8-0)

Last Year’s Bowl: Miami Beach Bowl vs. USF

Head Coach: Jeff Brohm (20-7 at WKU)

Top Returning Players: Anthony Wales (RB), Leon Allen (RB), Taywan Taylor (WR), Nicholas Norris (WR), Forrest Lamp (OT), Brandon Ray (OG), Darrell Williams (OT), Nick Dawson-Brents (DE), T.J. McCollum (LB), Keith Brown (LB), Branden Leston (S), Jake Collins (P), Nolan Dowling (LS)

Top Incoming Players: Steven Duncan (QB), Quinton Baker (RB), Kyle Fourtenbary (TE), Jeremy Darvin (DL)

Toughest Games (for 2016): Rice, @Alabama, Vanderbilt, @Louisiana Tech, @Marshall

Conference U.S.A. Championship Game: vs. Southern Mississippi (W)

Predicted Record (for 2016): 10-3 (7-1)

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