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Presenting the Underdog Dynasty Conference USA Preseason Poll

Where things are going pretty much as you'd expect them to go... except at the top, oddly enough.

Marshall will battle Western Kentucky for the East Division... and for conference supremacy overall.
Marshall will battle Western Kentucky for the East Division... and for conference supremacy overall.
Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

It's been a few weeks since Conference USA announced their 2015 preseason poll, and admittedly the Sun Belt writers beat we CUSA writers to their own poll, so we had to space it out a bit.  Underdog Dynasty felt it would be unprofessional to compete with ourselves, and in keeping with that same professionalism, we now present our own poll so you need not fret over where your Conference USA school may land (unless you're UAB).

Our crack Conference USA panel is comprised of the following:

  • Nic Lewis, Site Manager and highly unofficial Florida International writer
  • Jared Kalmus, Offensive Coordinator and UTSA's most tenured blogger
  • Andrew G. Thomas, Co-Offensive coordinator and WKU writer
  • Jason Jones, Defense Coordinator and senior Bulldog blogger
  • Jeremy Adcock, MTSU and Southern Miss writer
  • Adam Woodyard, North Texas writer
  • Trey Lower, Charlotte writer (!)

Follow all of them on Twitter immediately, and realize they all care more deeply about the conference than your local sports writer, who is just trying to make a deadline as he or she tries to get that SEC job.  Meanwhile, we're here cuz we wanna be.

1.  Marshall (5) - 86 points

Highest Vote: 1st (Almost Everybody)
Lowest Vote: 4th (AGT)

Unlike with the SBC poll, UD writers went a different way than CUSA coaches did.  This is perhaps to do with how Marshall nearly ran the table against its 2014 sched, and how this season, after an opener against Purdue, things seem pretty well cut-and-dry for the Thundering Herd until the final week of the season, when they get that rematch against WKU.... in Bowling Green.

If they don't make the CUSA Championship game, our WKU writer is the one called it.  Sheer skill or blatant homerism?  You have to wait four months to find out.

2. WKU (2) - 84 points

Highest Vote: 1st (Nic, AGT)
Lowest Vote: 3rd (JJ, AW)

That's close, and so was the Marshall/WKU matchup last year.  The battle for CUSA East will be tough, and will come down to the final game of the season, so we feel pretty confident that however that goes, you'll have forgotten about this poll by November 27th.  In Doughty we trust.

3. Louisiana Tech - 78 points

Highest Vote: 2nd (Nic, JJ, AGT, AW)
Lowest Vote: 5th (TL)

No love for the West division?  A veteran defensive line apparently doesn't offset a schedule that sees WKU and Kansas State on the road, and Louisiana-Lafayette at home.  Win those three and run the table, you're nationally ranked.  Lose those three and run the table, and third place sounds about right.

4. Rice - 67 points

Highest Vote: 3rd (Jared)
Lowest Vote: 6th (JJ + AGT)

This is where you can see the writers start to split, with Rice consistently at the top of the middle of the conference, in everyone's poll.  Never mind an easier schedule than last year, and a 5th-year senior at QB.  Or that Rice won the conference in 2013.  This is still Rice we're talking about, and you might as well pick Vandy to win the SEC.  We appreciate what you're doing and all, but there's a precedent here.  Still.  Dark horse?  Dark horse.

5. Middle Tennessee - 59 points

Highest Vote: 3rd (AGT, TL)
Lowest Vote: 6th (Nic)

The Blue Raiders are in SEC country, but their fates seem irrevocably tied to the Volunteers, underachieving more often than not.   They've been bowl eligible 5 times in the past six seasons, and this year sees a QB battle between returning Austin Grammer (2,999 yards passing last season) and redshirt freshman Brent Stockstill, son of head coach Rick Stockstill.  The more interesting statistic is 57-55, which is Rick Stockstill's head coaching record at MTSU, the only place he's ever been head coach.  Also they play at Alabama and at Illinois this season.  Good luck with that.

6. UTEP - 55 points

Highest Vote: 5th (about half)
Lowest Vote: 7th (about half)

That vote probably says all you need to know about UTEP.  It's not about raising the bar this year-- this year, UTEP is that bar.

7. FAU - 46 points

Highest Vote: 5th (Nic)
Lowest Vote: 9th (AW, TL)

What can you say about FAU?  They're not FIU and they're not FSU.  This is a team good enough to not embarrass themselves but not so bad we have anything especially mean to say about them.  They hired a new HBC last year and yet kept their offensive coordinator who seems to be the root of their problems for the last couple years.  FAU might finish fine but they'll be lucky to get out of September with a win, and that's against Charlotte on Sept. 26.

8. Old Dominion - 37 points

Highest Vote: 6th (TL)
Lowest Vote: 12th (JJ)

This is basically the "lolwut" pick, since ODU was barely FBS last year and this year could go either way. New QB, new center, but experienced O-line beyond that. Their defense was terrible last season so they could have matured with another year, or not.  This is another middle-of-the-road program that could finish anywhere from the middle to the bottom and no one would bat an eye.

9. Southern Miss - 31 points

Highest Vote: 7th (JA)
Lowest Vote: 13th (AGT, Nic)

Here's where the math gets wonky, because Nic, our very own editor, officially refused to rank the bottom four teams in his poll, USM, FIU, UNT and Charlotte, as he's a very busy man, so we guess you can't blame him.  We gave all those teams one point under his poll, but overall, that's how much faith the writers-- nay, the world-- have in Todd Monken's squad. They have a storied history!  A case full of trophies!  They won three games last year, against an FCS team, a Sun Belt team, and North Texas!  Last season the Eagles played Mississippi State and Bama, this year they get Mississippi State and Nebraska.  We'd say this is the basement, but we've got four teams to go.

10. UTSA - 29 points

Highest Vote: 9th (about half)
Lowest Vote: 11th (the other hal

Every. Single. Voter. Had this team 9th or 11th.  Sorry, Roadrunners. Maybe this is just a rebuilding year, but Howard Schnellenberger was another legendary coach who started a program (at FAU), and he didn't take the Owls to the promised land, either.  You're better off reviewing the 2016 calendar early.

11/12. TIE - FIU and North Texas, 23 points

One last place vote each, both from Nic.  That's harsh but fair.  This is simultaneously a vote of confidence for the dumpster fire that is the Golden Panthers athletic department, and a gigantic shrug for whatever is going on at North Texas.  Even the NT writer put them 10th, and that's from our charitable, incredibly talented North Texas writer, who is obviously a big hit with the ladies and certainly didn't write this paragraph.  Still, the rest of you: go to home games this season, for crying out loud, those stadiums are gorgeous.

13. Charlotte - 8 points

Highest Vote - 12th! Because AGT just hates USM that much, we're pretty sure
Lowest Vote - 13th (everyone else)

Dude.  Even the CHARLOTTE WRITER picked this team last.  They're a transitional team.  Even 2-time FCS champ WKU went 0-12 their first FBS season.  Considering Charlotte has had no such previous success, this is going to be a rough season.  Think of it like your initiation, Charlotte.  Let the other teams kidnap you at 3 a.m. to go drink vodka straight from the bottle, then go stand out in the quad reciting all twelve fight songs (or whatever it is pledges do), and in a couple years you'll have earned your stripes.  But for now you've gotta finish this season, collect your checks and get to class on time, and maybe... just maybe, if you try hard and eat your vegetables, you can finish ahead of FIU in 2016.  Mahalo.