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Conference USA Odds: 2012 Preview

Unlike many of the other Mid-Majors in college football, Conference-USA remains unchanged heading into this season with the same 12 schools as last season.

Editors Note: For 2013 conference preview, click here

Next year will be a whole other story in this conference, but we will save that discussion for another time.

The following is a look at a few of the top contenders from the East and West Divisions as well as the C-USA betting odds to win for all 12 teams as provided by 5Dimes.

East Division

Central Florida was the favorite at +120 to win the East and a +275 favorite to win the conference, but it recently received a one-year ban from the NCAA for recruiting violations. That should open the door for the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles to not only win the division as +230 second- favorites, but to successfully defend their conference title as +450 second-favorites.

They will have a new head coach at the helm in Ellis Johnson as well as a number of new faces on both sides of the ball with just 11 starters back from last year’s team. Look for Chris Johnson to get the early nod at quarterback while Ricky Lloyd waits patiently in the wings.

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The next team to watch in the East is the East Carolina Pirates. They have been opened at +425 to win the division and at +900 to win the conference title. After back-to-back losing seasons, head coach Ruffin McNeill is hoping his third season with the team will be the charm. Rio Johnson is expected to take over at quarterback for the departed Dominique Davis. Torrence Hunt returns at running back after leading the team in rushing in 2011 with 489 yards. The Pirates will also have Reggie Bullock in the backfield. He ran for 428 yards on 98 carries in 2011.

The odds to win at 5Dimes for the rest of the teams in the East Division are Marshall at +1200, UAB at +3000, and Memphis at +5000.

West Division C-USA prediction

The team to beat in the West should be the Houston Cougars, who have been opened at +185 to win the division and at +450 to win the conference. Troy Levine takes over as head coach for the departed Kevin Sumlin. Also gone is Case Keenum, who was largely responsible for last season’s 12-1 record, but in his place is quarterback David Piland, who filled-in for Keenum when he was injured early in the 2010 season.

Houston is going to need some things to quickly fall into place to make a run to the top, but with UCF out of the picture, it has as good of a shot as anyone to win it all this year.

The next favorite to win the West is the Tulsa Golden Hurricane at +230 along with SMU. Tulsa has the inside track with a number of key starters back from last season’s team that went 7-1 in conference play last season. It has been opened at +600 to win the conference.  

The Golden Hurricane will also have Cody Green at quarterback after he decided to transfer from Nebraska. If new head coach Bill Blankenship can improve a Tulsa defense that was ranked 64th in the nation in points allowed, his team should be able to make some serious noise in the Conference-USA title race.

The odds to win the conference for the rest of the teams in the West Division are SMU at +600, UTEP at +1500, Rice at +3000, and Tulane at +3500.