The pundits are predicting Marshall to run away with the East, and expected tight race in the West brings plenty of intrigue to some end-of-season games. While the national theme of Conference USA has been MARSHALL MARSHALL MARSHALL, there are some other games that will have a major impact on how the conference race plays out. Here are the best in-conference Conference USA games this season.
1a. UNT at UTSA (Nov. 29)
1b. UNT a Rice (Oct. 25)
1c. Rice vs UTSA (Nov. 8)
Preseason polls have these three regional rivals separated by only four votes in the West Division, and the season-ending game between the Roadrunners and the Mean Green could decide who advances to the C-USA Championship. It was only natural to group these three games together, as the team registering two wins out of these three games should be a lock to be the C-USA West Champion. Unfortunately for the Mean Green, they play the other C-USA West Favorites on the road.
2. Marshall vs Middle Tennessee (Oct. 11)
Marshall plays no one of note in non-conference play and MTSU looks to be the most likely speed bump in the Thundering Herd's quest for perfection. Can the Blue Raiders control the game with their run-based offense and keep Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato off the field?
3. Old Dominion vs Marshall (Oct. 4)
I'm interested in this game for the sole reason of seeing how the Monarchs do against the class of Conference USA. While ODU built a strong FCS program, it remains to be seen how Coach Bobby Wilder and company will fare against strong Conference USA competition.
4. Western Kentucky at Marshall (Nov. 28th, noon EST)
Getting tired of Marshall yet? Marshall could come in 11-0 with a possible chance at the new College Football Playoff on the line. This is the second of a back-to-back for the Hilltoppers facing the top teams in Conference USA, with a game against UTSA the week before. Western Kentucky is no stranger to an upset, knocking off in-state rival and perennial SEC doormat Kentucky two years in a row.
5. UAB at Southern Mississippi (Nov. 29, 3:30 EST)
Southern Miss is 1-23 the past two years, with their only win coming in a blowout of the Blazers in the final game of the season last year, 62-27. Coach Jeff Monken has done a lot to improve the Golden Eagle football program, both on and off the field (picture of suits for job interviews), so I'm interested to see the win total of USM coming into the final game of the season for both teams.