Inside The 2013 C-USA West Schedule
By Dan Harralson
Tulsa is back and are waiting to defend their 2012 Conference USA title. The West Division is not as wide-open as the C-USA's East Division, but still has a lot of parity.
Bill Blankenship and his Golden Hurricane has the likes of Louisiana Tech, North Texas, Rice, Tulane, UTEP and UTSA rounding out the newly-formed C-USA West Division. Here's a look at each team and what they face within the conference in 2013:
Opponents: Tulane, at UTEP, North Texas, at FIU, Southern Miss, at Rice, Tulsa, at UTSA
Louisiana Tech welcomes in Skip Holtz, who is no stranger to the conference. Holtz will feature two solid running backs in Tevin King and Kenneth Dixon. La. Tech has two winnable East games against FIU and Southern Miss and has a favorable West schedule with Tulsa coming to Ruston.
Opponents: at Tulane, MTSU, at La. Tech, at Southern Miss, Rice, UTEP, UTSA, at Tulsa
The Mean Green have not been bowling since 2004 and realistically may not for another year. However, 6-6 is possible if everything falls the right way. North Texas will have to win their two East games against MTSU and Southern Miss on top of starting the season 3-0 against Idaho, Ohio, and Ball State.
Opponents: FAU, at Tulsa, at UTSA, UTEP, at North Texas, La. Tech, at UAB, Tulane
David Bailiff has things turned around in Houston. A five-game winning streak and a bowl victory to close out the 2012 season created a positive outlook going into 2013. FAU and UAB bring a favorable C-USA East schedule for the Owls. Seven wins is a great possibility for Rice.
Opponents: at La. Tech, North Texas, ECU, Tulsa, at FAU, at UTSA, UTEP, at Rice
Ten consecutive losing seasons have hampered the Green Wave football program, but there are signs a better future is in store. Second-year head coach Curtis Johnson has a favorable schedule to get to six wins and to go bowling. Tulane brings in marquee transfers in quarterback Nick Montana (Washington) and defensive tackle Chris Davenport (LSU). Montana will be high on the radar to replace quarterback Ryan Griffin.
Opponents: Rice, at UTEP, at Tulane, UTSA, at ECU, Marshall, at La. Tech, North Texas
Tulsa looks to defend their C-USA championship and returns a solid offense to help them do it. Nebraska transfer quarterback Cody Green will be surrounded by 2,000 yards-plus of offense in 2012 from running backs Ja'Terian Douglas and Trey Watts. The Golden Hurricane have a tough East schedule with a trip to ECU and hosting Marshall. Even if Tulsa stumbles and loses one conference game, winning the West is still manageable with one conference loss.
Opponents: UTSA, La. Tech, Tulsa, at Rice, at North Texas, FIU, at Tulane, at MTSU
The Mike Price era is over in El Paso. Enter new head coach Sean Kugler. The East schedule is not the easiest with games against FIU and at MTSU. Coach Kugler has his work cut out for him entering year number one. The Miners' defense will need to address giving up at least 31 points in five of the last six games of 2012.
Opponents: at UTEP, at Marshall, Rice, UAB, at Tulsa, Tulane, at North Texas, La. Tech
The Roadrunners bring experience into Conference USA. The national championship coach, Larry Coker, has a solid quarterback returning in Eric Soza. UTSA went 8-4 in its first year in FBS, but will need a lot of help from the defense to repeat a winning season. This is a defense that allowed 26 touchdowns through the air.