NCAA Football 2012 Conference Betting Previews- Conference-USA
If you are a fan of the current lineup of teams in Conference-USA, you had better take a picture because starting next season it will be a whole new-look in this mid-major Division I-A conference.
As far as this year, everything remains unchanged, so the following is a betting preview for a few of the top contenders to win the both the East and West Division and potentially meet in this year’s Conference-USA title game at the end of the regular season.
The top team in the East this season should be the Central Florida Knights, who have been opened at +115 to win the division and are +250 favorites to win the conference. They will be moving to the Big East starting in 2013, so the motivation to go out with a bang is also there. The Knights stumbled to a 5-7 record last season, but head coach George O’Leary remains confident that his team can quickly regain the form that led to an 11-3 record overall and 7-1 record in conference play in 2010. Look for Blake Bortles to get the call at quarterback for opening day against Akron, but if UCF is going to turn things around it will be behind a defense that finished last season ranked ninth in the nation in points allowed.
The second-favorite to win the East Division at +225 is the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles, who went 6-2 in conference play last season and 12-2 overall. The defending champions knocked-off Houston 49-28 in the Conference-USA title game have been opened at +500 to successfully defend their title. Ellis Johnson takes over as the Golden Eagles new head coach, replacing Larry Fedora, who left to take the head coaching job at North Carolina. Johnson inherits a team that returns just six starters on offense and five on the defensive side of the ball. Chris Campbell should have the inside tract to take over at quarterback, but do not be surprised if Ricky Lloyd works his way into the lineup sometime this season.
The college football odds to win the conference for the rest of the teams in the East Division are East Carolina at +800, Marshall at +1000, UAB at +2500, and Memphis at +4000.
The top team in the West this season should be the Houston Cougars at +175 to win the division and at +450 to win the conference. This is another team that decided to defect to the Big East after this season and has the added chip on its shoulder to win it all in 2012 after losing just one game last year against 13 victories. A big reason for the success was quarterback Case Keenum, who is currently trying to play on Sunday’s this year. Also gone is head coach Kevin Sumlin, who now at Texas A&M, so the Cougars face somewhat of a rebuilding process in 2012 for new head coach Troy Levine. With just five starters back on offense it will be up quarterback David Piland to fill some mighty big shoes, just as he did when Keenum missed the 2010 season due to injury.
The second-favorite to win the West at +200 is the Tulsa Golden Hurricane, who have been opened at +500 to win the conference. They are coming off an 8-5 campaign in 2011, which includes a stellar 7-1 record in conference play. They are another team that will field a new head coach in 2012 after Todd Graham abruptly decided to move onto Pittsburgh after just one year at the helm. Hoping to finally provide some stability at this position, Tulsa elevated assistant coach Bill Blankenship to the top spot. He will have six starters back on offense and seven on defense, so there is a basic core of talent and experience to post another winning record this year. The key could be quarterback Cody Green, who transferred from Nebraska and will assume the starting role for the Golden Hurricane this year.
The odds to win the conference for the rest of the teams in the West Division are SMU at +500, UTEP at +1500, Rice at +2500, and Tulane at +3000.
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