Bill Connelly has released his 2018 S&P+ projections, an advanced stat that combines recent history, returning production, and recruiting rankings.
Here’s how Bill’s numbers project Conference USA in 2018.
FAU is the clear favorite
The Owls are 31 spots ahead of the second highest ranked team, Marshall. The transformation of FAU’s football program in one season is incredible. Just last preseason FAU was ranked 97th in S&P+. That’s a 66 spot jump from last year to now.
FAU will have to replace Jason Driskel at quarterback, find some receivers, and find a few pieces on the line of scrimmage, but with the Lane Train back in Boca for another season the Owls are the runaway favorite to win C-USA for the second straight year.
If they catch a couple of breaks elsewhere and run the table in conference play, FAU might be Conference USA’s first representative to appear in the New Year’s Six.
C-USA West is up for grabs
I was a bit surprised to see Louisiana Tech ranked as the highest C-USA West team but seeing as how recent history does favor the Bulldogs over North Texas, the projection makes sense.
Only three spots separate UAB and Southern Miss, and seeing as how La Tech’s conference draw is really, really tough, expect the battle for C-USA West to be tight throughout the season.
This conference still has a long ways to go
The football in this conference has gotten much better. From prestigious head coaches to improved recruiting classes, C-USA football is a lot more entertaining.
But there’s still a lot more room for improvement. C-USA has six teams ranked 100th or worse. The bottom of the conference is still really bad, as UTEP is predicted to be the worst team in the country with Charlotte not too far behind.
Sun Belt is still the worst FBS conference in college football, but despite what fans of C-USA football might think, this conference still isn’t that much better.