2010 Non-BCS Conference Profiles: Conference USA

Bleacher ReportContributor IJuly 20, 2010

NEW ORLEANS - OCTOBER 17:  Quarterback Case Keenum #7 of the Houston Cougars throws the ball against the Tulane Green Wave at the Louisiana Superdome on October 17, 2009 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

This is seventh in a series of conference profiles as part of BCS Know How’s season preview. Today’s conference is Conference USA.


Conference: Conference USA (C-USA)

Active Since: 1995

Current Member Schools: Houston Cougars, Rice Owls, Southern Methodist (SMU) Mustangs, UTEP Miners, Tulane Green Wave, Tulsa Golden Hurricane, UAB Blazers, Central Florida Knights, East Carolina Pirates, Marshall Thundering Herd, Memphis Tigers, Southern Mississippi (USM) Golden Eagles. (12)

Bowl Affiliations: New Orleans Bowl, St. Petersburg Bowl, Hawaii Bowl, EagleBank Bowl, Armed Forces Bowl, Liberty Bowl. (6)

2009 Results:
Conference Champion: East Carolina
Conference Runner-up: Houston
Overall Bowl Record: 2-4
AP All-Americans: Memphis P Matt Reagan
Heisman Vote Recipients: Houston QB Case Keenum


2010 Outlook:

Do you enjoy offense?

Well, if you do, Conference USA would be a conference to watch in 2010. Every major contender in the conference has threats on the offensive side of the ball, and that conversation starts with Houston and their nationally recognized quarterback, Case Keenum.

Keenum put together a statistically brilliant season in ’09, passing for more than 5800 yards and 48 TDs. For his performance, he was rewarded with a variety of honors, but Keenum was unable to bring his Cougars a C-USA championship. Expect Keenum and Houston to be motivated to give the conference crown another shot.

Two-time defending conference champion East Carolina will be trying to string together a third title under the tutelage of new coach Ruffin McNeill, but it will be difficult to maintain their recent success with a defensive roster that was depleted by graduation.

Rice running back Sam McGuffie could make an immediate impact on C-USA play after sitting out a transfer-required year after leaving Michigan behind in 2008, only strengthening the conference’s overall offensive prowess.

Coach June Jones at SMU seems to moving the Mustangs in the same direction he pushed Hawaii when he was overseeing some of the most production quarterbacks and offenses of the past few decades. And with a large contingent of returning starters from last year’s 8-5 squad, SMU could be poised to make a move into national prominence.

A mid season meeting between SMU and Houston may hold the key to the West Division crown and the winner may be on the fast track to the C-USA conference title.

Marshall, Tulsa and Southern Miss are also all improved and are are a part of what could be a very strong conference come the end of the 2010 season.


2010 Heisman Hopefuls:

Houston QB Case Keenum, Rice RB Sam McGuffie, Southern Miss WR DeAndre Brown


BCS Know How’s 2010 Predictions:

Conference Champion: Southern Methodist (9-3, 8-0)
Conference Runner-up: Central Florida (8-4, 6-2)
Heisman Finalists: None