Inside The 2013 C-USA East Schedule
By Dan Harralson
A revamped Conference USA will field 14 teams instead of 12 for the 2013 college football season. Out goes Houston, UCF, SMU, and Memphis while FAU, FIU, Louisiana Tech, MTSU, North Texas, and UTSA enter. The conference lost three schools that competed for the conference championship on a consistent basis and a Memphis program that was eager to turn it around.
Conference USA loses teams that could make a push for a BCS-buster bowl spot, but as for the 2013 season, the conference has parity from top to bottom. Florida Atlantic and Florida International bring two state of Florida programs that have Florida recruiting and top-notch facilities. Mesh these two programs with East Carolina, Marshall, Middle Tennessee State, Southern Miss, and UAB and the East Division is wide open.
Louisiana Tech, Tulane, UTEP, UTSA, Rice, North Texas, and Tulsa round up the C-USA West Division, which Tulsa should be favored to win. After Tulsa, the rest of the division is up for grabs as well.
Here's a look at each team's conference schedule in the East:
Opponents: FAU, at MTSU, at Tulane, Southern Miss, at FIU, Tulsa, UAB, at Marshall
The Pirates only have one home game (Southern Miss) between Sept. 14 and Nov. 9. ECU has to play Tulsa as one of their West games. Tough break there. ECU is probably the favorite to win the wide-open East, but will have to fair well at Tulsa, at FIU, and at Marshall. The Pirates also need to take care of business against UAB, a team that they should be favored against, but ECU lost to UAB last year.
Opponents: at ECU, MTSU, at Rice, at UAB, Marshall, Tulane, at Southern Miss, FIU
Florida Atlantic once again will play the majority of their games away from their nice stadium in Boca Raton. Only one home game (MTSU) will be played during the first six games and only two during the first nine weeks. It will be a tough year for the Owls, but they do draw Rice and Tulane as their West games.
Opponents: at Southern Miss, UAB, Louisiana Tech, ECU, at MTSU, at UTEP, Marshall, at FAU
Ron Turner enters as head coach, replacing Mario Cristobal. FIU brings back a good team, but also faces a difficult schedule. Playing at Florida Atlantic in the Shula Bowl is part of playing three road games in the final four after playing Louisiana Tech and East Carolina. The good news will be not having any road dates from Oct. 5 until at Middle Tennessee on Nov. 9.
Opponents: UTSA, at FAU, at MTSU, Southern Miss, UAB, at Tulsa, at FIU, East Carolina
The Thundering Herd have a reasonable conference schedule. Marshall draws at Tulsa from the West, which means the season finale at ECU may be for the East championship since ECU draws a visit against Tulsa, as well. If Marshall wants to be in that position at ECU, then the Herd need to take care of business against winnable UAB, MTSU, UTSA, and FAU games.
Middle Tennessee State
Opponents: at FAU, ECU, at North Texas, Marshall, at UAB, FIU, at Southern Miss, UTEP
The Blue Raiders have one of those schedules that stacks up their "tough" games at home and their "easier" games away from Murfeesboro. MTSU has home games against ECU, FIU, and Marshall. Road games against North Texas, UAB, Southern Miss, and FAU. These games can make or break for a bowl game.
Opponents: FIU, at ECU, North Texas, at Marshall, at Louisiana Tech, FAU, MTSU, at UAB
It won’t help going on the road three times in four weeks, in the middle of the season, with dates at East Carolina, Marshall and Louisiana Tech around a home game against North Texas. Ending with Florida Atlantic and Middle Tennessee State are winnable games before taking on rival UAB in Birmingham. But it can only get better from last year's zero-win season.
Opponents: FAU, at FIU, at UTSA, MTSU, at Marshall, at ECU, Rice, Southern Miss
The Blazers are looking for a return trip to a bowl game, something that has only happened once (2004) in the young program's history. UAB needs to beat FAU, MTSU, Rice, and Southern Miss at home. These home wins along with a road victory at UTSA should put the Blazers back bowling. An opening-game win at Troy will help the Blazers' bowl chances even more.