Beth Hall-USA TODAY Sports

2013 Conference USA football previews, from worst to first

Who's in Conference USA this year? One way to find out: read Bill Connelly's advanced previews of each team!

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14 Total Updates since April 4, 2013
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Is Tulsa still the one in C-USA?

With Southern Miss' 2012 collapse, Tulsa is undoubtedly the class the new Conference USA. But Bill Blankenship's third Golden Hurricane squad must replace some serious play-making ability from an underrated, explosive defense; in its final year in C-USA, can Tulsa claim one more conference crown?

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Medium fish, shrinking pond

Doc Holliday has done a rather stunning job of amassing star recruits in three years at Marshall, but he only has 20 wins to show for it. If a breakthrough is going to come, it should come pretty quickly; and if it does, the Thundering Herd could become the preeminent power in the Future C-USA. Peace, love, and pannkaka blockeras.

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ECU the favorite in the C-USA East?

Head coach Ruffin McNeill comes across as one of the nicest coaches in college football, but a pretty mean, experienced ECU team could be the favorite to win the C-USA East in 2013, at least if that bendy defense stiffens a bit.

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For So. Miss, 2012 never happened

Southern Miss made a confusing hire in replacing Larry Fedora with Ellis Johnson in 2012. The result was not only an end to the Golden Eagles' 18-year streak of winning seasons, but a complete and utter collapse to 0-12. After just one year, Johnson was replaced with Todd Monken, who perhaps should have been the choice all along. Monken inherits a team rich with experience and poor with confidence. Time to pretend last fall didn't actually happen.

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A soft landing for La. Tech

When you knowingly change course away from an approach that is working, it is either brave and filled with foresight, or it is pretty stupid and likely to backfire miserably.

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Rice finds its ceiling

On October 6, 2012, Rice lost to Memphis to fall to 1-6 and put head coach David Bailiff near the top of any "coaches on the hot seat" list. Six months later, the Owls are riding a five-game winning streak, returning almost literally everybody, and talking about a conference title.

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FIU a total wildcard

FIU earned quite a bit of bad press for firing Mario Cristobal after a single bad season, then taking a swing at Butch Davis and missing. New coach Ron Turner, however, inherits a squad that is interesting and athletic and has spent much of the last two years underachieving. Good luck figuring out what this team might do in 2013.

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MTSU turns it around

A new offensive coordinator made a world of difference for Rick Stockstill and Middle Tennessee in 2012. The Blue Raiders bounced back after a 2011 collapse, and with a load of returning experience, could make a pretty smooth transition to Conference USA ball this fall.

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A UTEP man takes over UTEP

The UTEP job is a difficult one, but UTEP alum and respected offensive line coach Sean Kugler succeeds Mike Price and attempts to make something out of a Texas A&M transfer quarterback, some weapons and a green defense.

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North Texas is actually deeper now

Year 2 for Dan McCarney looked quite a bit like Year 1. But entering his third year in Denton, he has what is pretty clearly his deepest, most interesting team. Will that matter now that the Mean Green are in a deeper, more interesting conference? And ... is Conference USA actually deeper and more interesting than the Sun Belt?

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UAB waters seeds, looks for a blitz

UAB threatened Ohio State well into the fourth quarter in Columbus and got destroyed by Memphis at home. Garrick McGee's first season in charge was full of upside, youth, and serious head-scratchers.

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Tulane taking baby steps

Tulane improved a little bit in Curtis Johnson's first year as head coach. The Green Wave should improve a little bit more in 2013. The goals are modest, but the schedule is pretty easy. Can Tulane top four wins for the first time in eight years?

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Checking in with Larry Coker

UTSA has played 22 games in its existence, and it has already climbed a couple of rungs in the realignment ladder. Larry Coker's Roadrunners begin life in Conference USA with an interesting, experienced offense and a defense that needed a lot of help from JUCO recruiting.

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Welcome to Double-A, FAU

FAU's late promotion to Conference USA was based mostly off of potential instead of recent production. But while the offense will probably hold the Owls back, a late-2012 surge (and an outright stud at receiver) makes them worth watching, just in case.

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