CFT predicts: Conference USA standings

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As we look ahead to the 2011 college football season, we take with us the lessons we learned from seasons past. We calculate, scrutinize, dissect and digest schedules, returning starters, coaching changes, injuries, and yes, even hunches, and spew it back in the form of how we think each of the 11 Division 1 FBS conferences — and independents — will pan out by year’s end.

Of course, these are merely our opinions. Feel free, as we know you will, to disagree. We know that’s why you really come here anyway.

Here are our predictions for Conference USA:

Ben Kercheval’s C-USA champion: Houston
 John Taylor’s C-USA champion: UCF

Ben’s take
If you like offense, hate defense, or are content with a disproportionate amount of the former over the latter, then Conference USA is likely your conference affiliation of choice. And there promises to be plenty of offense this year with Case Keenum returning from an ACL tear for Houston, Kyle Padron starting another year in SMU’s run-and-shoot offense and Austin Davis finishing his career under center for Southern Miss. Indeed, C-USA is truly a conference of great system quarterbacks and even better offensive minds.

In the East, I like Southern Miss over Central Florida. Both teams return practically their entire offense, but the Golden Eagles have a veteran advantage over the Knights on defense. Plus, Southern Miss gets UCF at home.

In the West, Houston should bounce back from a tough, injury-plagued 5-7 2010 campaign. Kennum, who has been granted a sixth year of eligibility, will pick up where he left off on his way to breaking just about every NCAA passing record.

Regardless, the East and West divisions of Conference USA should be anywhere between a two and three-team race. And for a conference that prides itself on great offense, it should be an exciting, high-octane race at that.

John’s take
While it will hardly garner much attention as compared to Big Six BcS battles, the race for the Conference USA title could be the most fascinating and exciting one in the country, even as it will likely happen well under the radar. No less than five schools will have a legitimate shot at winning either the East or West divisional titles.

In the former division, UCF will likely be the preseason favorite according to most prognosticators, although Southern Miss is talented enough to challenge. The game of the year in the East will pit the two schools against each other Nov. 12 — in Hattiesburg, a potentially huge advantage for the Golden Eagles.

In the West, Houston will welcome the return of a healthy Keenum as it attempts to rebound from a disappointing, injury-riddled season. Standing in the Cougars’ way for a return to the conference championship game are a pair of formidable obstacles: SMU and Tulsa tied for the Western division title last season, and it appears both school are ready for another run at an overall conference crown.

We’ll see a repeat from last season, with the Oct. 28 SMU-Tulsa game — my pick is the Mustangs — deciding who will play UCF in the conference championship game.

More predictions: ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, MAC, MWC, Pac-12, SEC, Sun Belt, WAC, Independents

CFT’s preseason Top 25

UCF’s undefeated team to be honored by NFL at Pro Bowl

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Now even the NFL is in on the gag.  Sort of.

As you no doubt know by now if you’re even a peripheral fan of college football, UCF kicked up quite the ruckus by very proudly and extremely loudly proclaiming themselves national champions after capping off a perfect 13-0 season by defeating Auburn, which beat both of the College Football Playoff game participants.  The football program went so far as to pay its assistants, now at Nebraska after following head coach Scott Frost out the door, the title bonuses they were entitled to contractually, with Disney World throwing the team a championship parade and even the state’s legislature egging the movement on.

Fast-forward to the here and now, and the NFL is getting set for this season’s Pro Bowl, which will be played in Orlando; the Knights, of course, play their home games in the same city. So, naturally, the NFL will honor the team during the game, although it’s expected the league will stop short of officially crowning their asses.

“When we thought about UCF and the amazing season they had going undefeated and their bowl game win, we thought there was really no better way, especially in the city of Orlando, to do something for that college celebration of football than to honor the UCF team in stadium on Sunday,” said Matt Shapiro, director of events strategy for the NFL, told the Orlando Sentinel. “I think we’re going to focus on their undefeated season. I don’t know that we’re going to get into the business of labeling them national champions. But we’re just excited to honor them and celebrate them.

According to the Sentinel, the players in attendance will be invited to walk on to the field at the end of the first quarter to be feted.  Just which players will be in attendance is unclear.

Ohio State promotes Ryan Day to offensive coordinator

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One Ohio State assistant remaining on Urban Meyer‘s coaching staff will apparently come at the expense of another, at least responsibility-wise.

After speculation surfaced over the weekend that Ryan Day was being wooed by an NFL team, it was reported Monday that the assistant would be staying with the Buckeyes.  Tuesday, OSU announced that Day, who just completed his first season as quarterbacks coach and c0-offensive coordinator, has been promoted to offensive coordinator.

That will no doubt raise some eyebrows as Kevin Wilson held the title of coordinator in 2017.  In explaining the move, the football program wrote that “Day will continue to coach the Ohio State quarterbacks and work with Kevin Wilson to lead the Ohio State offense with additional adjustments to [Wilson’s] responsibilities forthcoming.” It would seem those adjustments would at least partially revolve around play-calling, a responsibility that fell to Wilson on gamedays this past fall.

“Ryan is clearly a very talented coach who has been an outstanding addition to our program,” Meyer said in a statement. “He has been approached by other schools numerous times this off-season for coordinator and head coach opportunities, and by the National Football League for a coordinator opportunity. I am pleased that he has elected to continue to work on this staff and to lead, mentor and coach the terrific young men we have in this program.”

Day has been a solo coordinator twice in his coaching career — at Temple in 2012 and then again in 2013-14 at Boston College.

Prior to coming to OSU, Day was the quarterbacks coach for the San Francisco 49ers in 2016 and spent the 2015 season in the same job with the Philadelphia Eagles.  Those were his first two stints at the NFL level.

Starting Utah corner Casey Hughes transfers to Michigan

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Less than two weeks after leaving the Pac-12, Casey Hughes has landed in the Big Ten.

Jan. 10, Hughes announced on Twitter that he had decided to transfer from Utah.  Over the weekend, the defensive back confirmed that he will be transferring into the Michigan football program.

Hughes joins Jim Harbaugh‘s squad as a graduate transfer, which will allow him to use his final season of eligibility with the Wolverines this year.

Hughes started 11 games in 2017 for the Utes, missing two others because of injury.  After taking a redshirt as a true freshman in 2014, the North Las Vegas native played in 18 the next two seasons.  He didn’t start any of those contests.

Missouri new home for former LSU QB Lindsey Scott

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After a brief sabbatical, Lindsey Scott is back in the SEC.

Scott confirmed on his personal Twitter account Monday evening that he has committed to continuing his collegiate playing career at Missouri. Per his social media missive, the quarterback opted for Mizzou over FBS programs like Kansas and UT-San Antonio.

A three-star member of the LSU’s 2016 recruiting class, Scott was rated as the No. 26 dual-threat quarterback in the country and No. 54 player at any position in the state of Louisiana.  He took a redshirt his true freshman season.

In August of last year, Scott decided to transfer from the Tigers.  He spent the 2017 season at Last Chance U, otherwise known as East Mississippi Community College.