With seemingly constant realignment among college football conferences, C-USA will look much different in 2013 and more changes are coming in 2014 when Tulsa, East Carolina, and Tulane leave for the American Athletic while Old Dominion and Western Kentucky join Conference USA.
With UCF’s departure to the American, East Carolina has a better shot at winning the East division. The Pirates’ lone conference loss last season was to the Knights. Marshall is projected below to win the division, but it could come down to the final game of the season vs. East Carolina in a virtual pick 'em game. The Thundering Herd barely lost in double OT to the Pirates last year. (CFU writer Ron Clements picks ECU to win the East)
Tulsa is projected to win the West Division and Conference USA Championship. Even though they could tally another 11 win season, the Hurricane could also easily lose a few more games such as on the road at Bowling Green, East Carolina, and Louisiana Tech. The Hurricane's losses on defense could really make this season a toss up.
There is enough parity in C-USA that a pack of teams could contend for the conference title and six programs are projected to be bowl eligible in 2013. Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee, and Rice all could have decent seasons due to their schedule strength.
Former ECU coach Skip Holtz returns to Conference USA as the Louisiana Tech head coach. The Pirates and Bulldogs don’t face each other in the 2013 regular season, but it would be interesting to see him match up against his old team in the conference championship.