C-USA Conference Odds: UTSA, UAB, Western Kentucky-All Expected to Compete for Title

Departures of Three Teams Alters Landscape in Conference USA

The Conference USA Title Race Could Come Down to Three Teams

Things will look a little different when it comes to the Conference USA odds with the departures of Marshall, Old Dominion, and Southern Mississippi to the Sun Belt.

Seven of the 11 teams have expected win totals at 5.5 or lower so this is not looking like the deepest conference in the country.

Week 1 games between UTEP, Oklahoma, Houston, UTSA, as well as Rice and Southern California will get Conference USA some early national attention. While the NCAAF point spreads list UTEP and Rice as underdogs of more than 30 points for their season openers, UTSA is just a 4.5-point underdog against Houston.

Here is a breakdown of the Conference USA race.

Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners (+200 to win the Conference USA title)

The odds are at -155 for UTSA to come in under the expected win total of 8.5.

Quarterback Frank Harris returns after completing 66% of his passes for 3161 yards and 27 touchdowns to go with 561 rushing yards. Receiver Zakhari Franklin is also coming back after leading UTSA with 81 catches and 1027 yards as is Joshua Cephus with 71 catches, 819 yards… De’Corian Clark to go with tight end Oscar Cardenas. Arkansas transfer Trelon Smith will have some tough shoes with running back Sincere McCormick headed to the NFL.

Safety Rashad Wisdom (team-high 88 tackles), linebacker Jamal Ligon Trevor Harmanson, as well as Cornerback Corey Mayfield (37 tackles, two interceptions) return to lead the defense. With so many players returning, it is no wonder that the Roadrunners lead the way in the Conference USA odds.

Alabama Birmingham Blazers (+225 to win the Conference USA title)

With DeWayne McBride (1371 rushing yards) and Jermaine Brown (631 rushing yards as well as 23 catches) will be back for UAB with standout offensive linemen Sidney Wells, Will Rykard, and Matthew Trehern leading the way.

On defense, linebacker Noah Wilder (a team-high 93 tackles), cornerback Starling Thomas (41 tackles, two interceptions eight pass breakups) and safety Grayson Cash are among the players to keep an eye on.

UAB is also looked at by the college football odds as likely to come in under the 8.5 projected win total.

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (+450 to win the Conference USA title)

The 8.5 expected win total is a popular number among Conference USA contenders with that being the number for the Hilltoppers as well.

The Hilltoppers will need to replace quarterback Bailey Zappe who led the nation with 5967 passing yards. Western Kentucky’s top rusher Noah Whittington has transferred to Oregon. Receivers Jerreth Sterns and Michael Tinsley have also moved on.

Quarterback Jarret Doege comes in from West Virginia. Malachi Corley and Daewood Davis will take on even larger roles. Offensive linemen Quantavious Leslie and Rusty Staats are other key returnees on offense.

Cornerback Kahlef Hailassie is among the returning players on defense, although DeAngelo Malone (26.5 sacks over the last three seasons) is among the key losses for the Hilltoppers.

Florida Atlantic Owls (+850 to win the Conference USA title)

Not every team is being projected to come in under the expected win total as the odds are at -155 for FAU to finish with at least six wins.

FAU is just a couple of years removed from an 11-win season. The Owls won’t hit that mark but they could finish in the top half of the NCAAF standings top 25.

Defensive lineman Evan Anderson and safety Teja Young will lead the defense while Nick Weber should be one of the top offensive linemen in the conference.

Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (+1200 to win the Conference USA title)

Defensive lineman Jordan Ferguson (nine sacks, 16.5 tackles for loss) and cornerback Teldrick Ross (12 pass breakups) are defensive players to watch. Jaylin Lane could emerge into one of the top receivers in Conference USA while continuing to contribute as a kickoff and punt returner.

Middle Tennessee is right on the line of being bowl eligible with a project win total coming in at 5.5.

North Texas Mean Green (+1200 to win the Conference USA title)

Linebacker KD Davis is back after leading Conference USA with 121 tackles while cornerback Deshawn Gaddie will be a key contributor in the secondary once again.

Keep an eye on offensive lineman Manase Mose.

It is interesting that North Texas has a 6.5 expected win total but in the Conference, USA betting odds come in behind teams with lower win total projections.

Charlotte 49ers (+2200 to win the Conference USA title)

Quarterback Chris Reynolds (2684 passing yards, 26 touchdowns), running back Shadrick Byrd (583 yards), receivers Grant DuBose (62 catches, 892 yards) and Victor Tucker (51 receptions, 639 yards) gives the 49ers plenty of talent at the skill positions.

Defensive lineman Markees Watts (61 tackles, six sacks) will lead the defense, but there were heavy graduation losses.

UTEP Miners (+2200 to win the Conference USA title)

The defense could be much improved with linebackers Breon Hayward (108 tackles) and Tyrice Knight (102 tackles) joined by defensive linemen Praise Amaewhule (13 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks) and Keenan Stewart. Running back Ronald Awatt (854 yards) and offensive lineman Elijah Klein will lead the offense.

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (+3300 to win the Conference USA title)

Linebacker Tyler Grubbs (97 tackles, 10 tackles for loss), safety BeeJay Williamson (54 tackles, three interceptions), and defensive lineman Deshon Hall are among the returnees on defense. Smoke Harris not only led Louisiana Tech with 71 catches but was also the top punt returner. Offensive linemen Joshua Mote and Abraham Delfin also return.

Rice Owls (+8000 to win the Conference USA title)

The odds for Rice are -135 to go under 3.5 wins.

Expect more than 569 yards from running back Ari Broussard while defensive lineman Ikenna Enechukwu (4.5 sacks) and De’Braylon Carroll both return while linebacker Josh Pearcy and defensive back Gabe Taylor should have larger roles as sophomores after the loss of the top three tacklers.

Florida International Golden Panthers (+10000 to win the Conference USA title)

The odds are -140 for FIU to top the expected win total of 3.

Receiver Tyrese Chambers had quite the first impression with 1074 yards on 45 catches last season while tight end Rivaldo Fairweather should be busier after making 16 catches as a freshman.

Leading tackler Richard Dames is among the departures on defense. Lineman Davon Strickland (53 tackles, three sacks) is a key returnee on defense.

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