Conference USA Football 2019 Predictions

Complete preview for Conference USA in 2019

Conference USA won’t lack for intrigue in 2019. Athlon’s predictions feature Marshall and North Texas as the winners of the two divisions, but neither team should be considered a heavy favorite to book a trip to the league title game in December.

 

The top of the East Division was a little easier to sort out than the West. Marshall and FIU were clearly the top teams in Athlon’s projections from this side of the conference. The Thundering Herd’s offense is led by a line that returns four starters, a potential rising star (Isaiah Green) at quarterback, along with a solid one-two punch at running back with Tyler King and Brenden Knox. Green has to find a new go-to target after Tyre Brady finished his eligibility. Marshall’s defense also has holes to fill at every level and suffered an unexpected loss when Ty Tyler decided to transfer in late May. FIU’s offense led C-USA in scoring (34.6 ppg) last fall, and this unit could exceed that total in 2019. Quarterback James Morgan returns, along with a strong supporting cast, including three starters up front and a deep stable of running backs. The Panthers have to get tougher versus the run, but linebacker Sage Lewis is one of the top defensive players in Conference USA. FIU’s secondary should be one of the toughest in the league this fall. Marshall has a tough non-conference slate, but the Thundering Herd have an edge over the Panthers on the conference slate. In addition to missing UAB, Southern Miss and North Texas in crossover play, Marshall hosts Louisiana Tech and catches FIU on Nov. 30 in Huntington – a game that could decide the East title. The Panthers have a tougher schedule in conference action, getting Louisiana Tech, FAU and Marshall on the road.

 

FAU checks in third behind Marshall and FIU in Athlon’s C-USA East predictions. The Owls had some bad luck (minus-seven turnover margin and four losses by eight points or less) last season and could have help at the quarterback spot if Florida State transfer Deondre Francois joins the team. Running back Devin Singletary will be missed, but FAU has an intriguing transfer in former Alabama product BJ Emmons. Brent Stockstill leaves big shoes to fill under center for MTSU this season. The Blue Raiders return 11 starters, so the cupboard isn’t bare for coach Rick Stockstill. However, contending for the East Division title will hinge on how fast the offense finds a quarterback. Little separates Charlotte, WKU and Old Dominion at the bottom of the division. If a quarterback emerges, the Hilltoppers could surprise under new coach Tyson Helton.

 

With Mason Fine back under center, North Texas edged UAB, Southern Miss and Louisiana Tech as Athlon’s pick to win the West Division. Coach Seth Littrell’s team should have no trouble lighting up the scoreboard, but the Mean Green have holes to fill at every level on defense. Additionally, road trips to Louisiana Tech and Southern Miss are tricky. The Golden Eagles should be able to lean on a standout defense until the offense takes a step forward behind quarterback Jack Abraham. The status of receiver Quez Watkins is worth monitoring. UAB suffered some massive personnel losses, but coach Bill Clark will ensure this program doesn’t miss a beat. Quarterback Tyler Johnston is a rising star, and running back Spencer Brown will push Charlotte's Benny LeMay for the league's rushing title this fall. Louisiana Tech gets Southern Miss and North Texas at home, but coach Skip Holtz’s team has to play both Marshall and FIU in crossover play. The Bulldogs must replace standout end Jaylon Ferguson and jumpstart an offense that averaged only 24.7 points a game in 2018.

 

UTSA is looking to rebound after recording the lowest win total (three) under coach Frank Wilson. In order to push for a bowl trip, the Roadrunners have to show marked improvement on an offense that mustered only 14.2 points a game in 2018. Rice and UTEP will both continue to rebuild under second-year coaches in ’19.   

 

Conference USA 2019 Unit Rankings

Best RB

Units

Best WR

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Best OL

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Best DL

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Best LB
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Best DB

Units

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Conference USA Football 2019 Predictions
       
East Division
Rank   Projected C-USA Record Projected Overall Record
1 Marshall 6-2 9-4
2 FIU 6-2 8-4
3 FAU 5-3 7-5
4 MTSU 5-3 6-6
5 WKU 3-5 4-8
6 Charlotte 2-6 4-8
7 Old Dominion 2-6 3-9
       
West Division
Rank   Projected C-USA Record Projected Overall Record
1 North Texas 7-1 8-5
2 Southern Miss 6-2 8-4
3 UAB 5-3 8-4
4 Louisiana Tech 4-4 7-5
5 UTSA 3-5 4-8
6 UTEP 1-7 2-10
7 Rice 1-7 1-11
       
Conference USA Championship
Marshall over North Texas
 

C-USA 2019 SUPERLATIVES AND SEASON PREDICTIONS

 

Offensive POY

Pick by Steven Lassan: Mason Fine, QB, North Texas

Pick by Mitch Light: Mason Fine, QB, North Texas

Pick by Mark Ross: Mason Fine, QB, North Texas

 

Defensive POY

Pick by Steven Lassan: Amik Robertson, CB, Louisiana Tech

Pick by Mitch Light: Amik Robertson, CB, Louisiana Tech

Pick by Mark Ross: Sage Lewis, LB, FIU

 

Coach of the Year

Pick by Steven Lassan: Doc Holliday, Marshall

Pick by Mitch Light: Doc Holliday, Marshall

Pick by Mark Ross: Seth Littrell, North Texas

 

Coach on the Hot Seat

Pick by Steven Lassan: Frank Wilson, UTSA

Pick by Mitch Light: Frank Wilson, UTSA

Pick by Mark Ross: Frank Wilson, UTSA

 

Top Freshman

Pick by Steven Lassan: DeShawn Gaddie, CB, North Texas

Pick by Mitch Light: Clay Servin, OT, Rice

Pick by Mark Ross: Manny Allen, WR, WKU

 

Top Newcomer

Pick by Steven Lassan: D'Andre Plantin, OL, North Texas

Pick by Mitch Light: BJ Emmons, RB, FAU

Pick by Mark Ross: Eric Kumah, WR, Old Dominion

 

Sleeper Team

Pick by Steven Lassan: FAU

Pick by Mitch Light: WKU

Pick by Mark Ross: Louisiana Tech

 

Key Position to Watch

Pick by Steven Lassan: North Texas OL

Pick by Mitch Light: UAB WR

Pick by Mark Ross: North Texas OL

 

Best Coordinator Hire

Pick by Steven Lassan: Glenn Spencer, DC, FAU

Pick by Mitch Light: Bob Diaco, DC, Louisiana Tech

Pick by Mark Ross: Glenn Spencer, DC, FAU

 

Hardest Team to Evaluate

Pick by Steven Lassan: Southern Miss

Pick by Mitch Light: UAB

Pick by Mark Ross: Charlotte

 

Coach on the Rise

Pick by Steven Lassan: Seth Littrell, HC, North Texas

Pick by Mitch Light: Will Healy, HC, Charlotte

Pick by Mark Ross: Seth Littrell, HC, North Texas

 

Must-See Game

Pick by Steven Lassan: FIU at Marshall

Pick by Mitch Light: Louisiana Tech at Marshall

Pick by Mark Ross: FIU at Marshall

 

Breakout Player

Pick by Steven Lassan: Tyler Johnston III, QB, UAB

Pick by Mitch Light: Brad Anderson, WR, MTSU

Pick by Mark Ross: D'Vonte Price, RB, FIU

 

Comeback Player

Pick by Steven Lassan: Jovante Moffatt, S, MTSU

Pick by Mitch Light: Derron Gatewood, OL, UTEP

Pick by Mark Ross: Jovante Moffatt, S, MTSU

 

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(Top photo courtesy of meangreensports.com)

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