2018 CUSA college football projections on the Hour Glass
Let’s be honest, nobody is going to mistake Conference USA for the PAC-12 or even the AAC. Conference USA is doing all they can to stay relevant in college football and that’s ok. The league found a new multimedia rights deal this year through CBS, Facebook and other partners, in hopes to generate revenue, interest and a better product. The league continues to look for outside the box ways to keep pace with their college football brethren.
We will see what happens with CUSA in the future, but today they will play football as a 14 team conference in the near future.
The league has done a nice job upping the ante on coaching and some talented teams for that matter.
Lane Kiffin is the face of the league, like it or not and will be as long as he is at Florida Atlantic. Outside of Central Florida or Boise State, Kiffin and FAU will be the most widely talked about Group of Five team in 2018.
North Texas, Southern Miss, UAB, LA Tech, FIU and Marshall give the league strength on the field and balance in numbers and don’t forget about Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky. While the league finds ways to make it financially, on the field the product has become a nice one to watch on Saturdays in the fall.
2018 Conference USA Power Rankings:
Marshall believe it or not, is on paper the best team in the league pound for pound in 2018. We will see if they can turn their 2017 season of 8-5 into a trip to the CUSA Championship Game, but when you look at recruiting, coaching and quarterback play, the Thundering Herd have again established themselves as stable a program in the conference as there is.
Florida Atlantic and Lane Kiffin, check in at number two, followed by a very scrappy Louisiana Tech team, then Southern Miss and UAB round out our top five.
2018 Talent Index:
Again, Marshall is doing things the right way in the conference, building a good talent base; but there's that wild card FAU. Kiffin you know will have some transfers and nobody evaluates talent or coaches quarterbacks better than Kiffin. FIU is quietly doing a nice job on the recruiting trail and Jay Hopson is keeping Southern Miss stable. UTSA and Western Kentucky aren't far behind either when talking talent.
Skip Holtz, along with Kiffin are the class of coaches in this league, but Rick Stockstill of MTSU and Seth Littrell, as well as hot name Bill Clark of UAB are doing a great job.
We mentioned Hopson at Southern Miss and Butch Davis could have the most upside at FIU.
Seven coaches in the league are just above our average coaching stamp for 2018 (3.75), and two new coaches in Dan Dimel at Utep and Mike Bloomgren of Rice have their work cut out for them in 2018.
This could be the last year Charlotte puts up with Brad Lambert as the Hornets have yet to get off the ground in Division One.
Mason Fine of North Texas is the class of CUSA in 2018, followed by AJ Erdely of UAB. J'Mar Smith is expected to have a big year at LA Tech, and whoever plays quarterback for Kiffin should have another good year.
Several teams are still looking for quarterbacks and battles will go into fall camp and for a team like FIU, they need to find the right guy, be it Maurice Alexander or someone else to have a shot at the championship.
Conference race and finish:
FAU plays at Oklahoma and also plays UCF in 2018, but no game may be bigger than their October 20th trip to Marshall. This could very well decide the CUSA East and if FIU can find a quarterback don't count out Butch Davis either.
LA Tech looks to be the class of the West in 2018, but UAB, North Texas and Southern Miss will have a say in this division. Overall we have seven teams bowling from CUSA in 2018, and what should be a great championship game, with FAU again coming out on top.