Conference USA 2011 Odds Preview
Conference USA is known for its high-scoring games, and this season should be no exception.
Editor Note: Conference USA odds preview for 2013, click here
A bunch of teams have quarterbacks capable of putting up big numbers, and one or two of them might sneak into the Heisman picture. Defense is not the forte of the CUSA.
Houston Cougars (Odds to Win CUSA at Bovada 7/4)
Houston returns 12 starters from a team that went 4-4 in league play last year without QB Case Keenum, who hurt his knee and missed most of the season. This year Keenum is back, and he should again put up big numbers. But he'll have to, because the Cougar defense is iffy. Houston plays at Tulsa in the regular-season finale in a game that might decide the West Division.
Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles (Odds to Win CUSA at Bovada 3/1)
Southern Miss returns 14 starters after going 5-3 in CUSA last year, including QB Austin Davis (20/6 TD/INT last year) and five of the defensive front seven. And the Eagles get Central Florida and SMU at home, and don't have to play Houston or Tulsa.
Central Florida Knights (Odds to Win CUSA at Bovada 4/1)
The defending league champs only return 10 starters, just four on defense. As well, they have to play at SMU, Southern Miss, and East Carolina.
Alabama-Birmingham Blazers (Odds to Win CUSA at Bovada 8/1)
UAB, 3-5 in CUSA last year, gets 16 starters back, led by QB Bryan Ellis (25/12 TD/INT ratio), four on the o-line, and nine on defense.
SMU Mustangs (Odds to Win CUSA at Bovada 8/1)
SMU gets back 18 starters from last year's CUSA runner-ups, including QB Kyle Padron (31/14 TD/INT ratio), 1,500-yard rusher Zach Line, and the entire o-line. But the 'Stangs have to play at Southern Miss, Tulsa, and Houston.
Tulsa Golden Hurricane (Odds to Win CUSA at Bovada 8/1)
Tulsa returns 18 starters from a team that went 6-2 in CUSA last year, including QB GJ Kinne (31/10 TD/INT ratio) and the entire o-line. The 'Cane lost head coach Todd Graham, but new head coach Bill Blankenship has been an assistant here the last four years. And they get Houston and SMU at home
East Carolina Pirates (Odds to Win CUSA at Bovada 20/1)
East Carolina managed to go 5-3 in CUSA in its first season without Coach Holtz. This year 12 starters are back, led by QB Dominique Davis (37/16 TD/INT ratio), but the defense needs improvement after giving up 44 PPG last year.
Rice Owls (Odds to Win CUSA at Bovada 25/1)
Rice has 17 starters back from a 3-5 CUSA team of last year, but has to play at Southern Miss, Houston, and SMU.
Marshall Thundering Herd (Odds to Win CUSA at Bovada 28/1)
The Herd gets back 14 starters, including nine on defense, from a team that went 4-4 in CUSA in its first year under head coach Doc Holliday
Tulane Green Wave (Odds to Win CUSA at Bovada 50/1)
The Green Wave has 14 starters back as they try to escape the West Division basement.
Memphis Tigers (Odds to Win CUSA at Bovada 66/1)
Memphis gets a league-low nine starters back from a team that went winless in CUSA last year.
UTEP Miners (Odds to Win CUSA at Bovada 66/1)
The Miners return 11 starters to a team that's suffered through five straight losing seasons under head coach Mike Price.