Brad’s 2022 College Football Preview- Conference USA Analysis and Predictions

Every summer since 2007 I have created an intricate set of college football predictions for each upcoming season.  This year is no exception, as I will be using my blog over the next few hours to publish my 16th annual college football preview guide which will contain 18 entries in all. The records below reflect each team’s predicted regular season overall record followed by their conference record.  These records include conference title games for the two division champions but exclude bowl games which will be previewed later on in a separate column on this blog.  The teams marked in bold font are the ones predicted to gain bowl eligibility.  Without further ado, here are my predictions for Conference USA in 2022.

1UTSA (11-2, 7-1)conference champion

Positional Strength: Offensive Line

Positional Weakness: Running Back

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: at Texas (September 17)- upset of the year in C-USA!

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: at UAB (November 5)

Bottom Line: Everyone thinks the Roadrunners are going to take a step back without their star running back from last year Sincere McCormick. And while he is a huge loss, this team still has the best QB (pictured above), offensive line, and head coach in the league, which should lead to a successful defense of their Conference USA championship.

2Western Kentucky (8-5, 6-2)conference runner-up

Positional Strength: Wide Receiver

Positional Weakness: Defensive Line

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: at Auburn (November 19)- catching the Tigers at a perfect time!

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: vs. Troy (October 1)

Bottom Line: The Hilltoppers lose prolific passer Bailey Zappe, but they bring in two stud QBs from the transfer portal to take his place in Austin Reed and Jarrett Doege. And as long as one of those guys can step up and master Helton’s offense, the Toppers will be slinging it around the yard and scoring lots of points all season long.

3UAB (9-3, 6-2)

Positional Strength: Linebacker

Positional Weakness: Wide Receiver

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: vs. UTSA (November 5)

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: at Louisiana Tech (November 26)

Bottom Line: The Blazers return most of the key components from their 9 win season in 2021, but a difficult road slate will cost them the conference crown.

4North Texas (7-5, 5-3)

Positional Strength: Running Back

Positional Weakness: Defensive Line

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: vs. Florida Atlantic (October 1)

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: vs. SMU (September 3)

Bottom Line: The Seth Littrell hire finally produced results at the time of 2021, as this team caught fire at the end of last season and won its last five games to earn a bowl bid. I think the Mean Green will build upon that momentum and once again achieve bowl eligibility this season.

T-5Florida Atlantic (7-5, 5-3)

Positional Strength: Defensive Backs

Positional Weakness: Running Back

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: vs. Western Kentucky (November 26)

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: at UTEP (October 22)

Bottom Line: The Owls return their QB, Miami transfer N’Kosi Pierry (pictured above), and top running back and receiver from last year, but they also lose 6 of their top 7 tacklers. Nevertheless, I think Willie Taggart is a good enough coach to get this team back to a bowl in 2022 after a November collapse last season.

T-5Louisiana Tech (6-6, 5-3)

Positional Strength: Wide Receiver

Positional Weakness: Quarterback

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: vs. UAB (November 26)

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: at Charlotte (November 19)

Bottom Line: Whenever you have a new QB and head coach coming in, there are going to be some growing pains early on (unless you’re USC). However, I think this team has enough talent and experience, especially on the defensive end, and a favorable enough schedule to go bowling this season.

7Charlotte (5-7, 4-4)

Positional Strength: Quarterback

Positional Weakness: Linebacker

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: vs. UTEP (October 1)- keeping the Miners’ eastern time zone curse alive! (see facts and tidbits article that was published on 8/22)

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: at Rice (October 29)

Bottom Line: The 49ers have a lot of key pieces back in their high-powered offense, but a brutal schedule, in which they will be an underdog in 3 of their 4 non-conference games, will prevent this team from bowling.

8UTEP (6-6, 4-4)

Positional Strength: Defensive Line

Positional Weakness: Wide Receiver

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: vs. Florida Atlantic (October 22)

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: at Charlotte (October 1)- the eastern time zone curse continues!

Bottom Line: The Miners won’t contend for a conference crown like they did in 2021, but they have enough pieces back (starting QB, top 2 RBs, top 3 tacklers) to attain bowl eligibility for the second consecutive season.

T-9Middle Tennessee (2-10, 1-7)

Positional Strength: Defensive Line

Positional Weakness: Running Back

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: at Florida International (November 26)

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: at James Madison (September 3)

Bottom Line: This will be a major rebuilding year in Murfeesboro as the Raiders change offensive schemes while losing 9 offensive starters and their top 4 tacklers on the defensive end.

T-9Rice (2-10, 1-7)

Positional Strength: Running Back

Positional Weakness: Wide Receiver

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: vs. Charlotte (October 29)

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: at Louisiana Tech (October 22)

Bottom Line: The Owls lost several key pieces from last year’s team (QB, top WR, top 3 tacklers) and also face both a brutal conference and non-conference schedule.

11Florida International (3-9, 0-8)

Positional Strength: Wide Receiver

Positional Weakness: Defensive Line

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: at New Mexico State (October 1)- first win over any FBS squad since Miami-FL in 2019!

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: at Texas State (September 9)

Bottom Line: This program in shambles and will need several years to recover under new coach Mike MacIntyre. Fortunately, the administrators there are smart enough to schedule other FBS bottom feeders in the non-conference, so I expect them to end their 3 year losing streak against FBS opposition.

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