Division Champs: Eastern Carolina (East), Tulsa (West) Conference Champ: Tulsa Top Heisman Candidate: Rakeem Cato, QB, Marshall Offensive Player Of The Year: Shane Carden, QB, East Carolina Defensive Player Of The Year: Phillip Gaines, CB, Rice Coach Of The Year: Ruffin McNeill Biggest Upset: Bowling Green over Tulsa Emerging Star: Darrin Reaves, RB, UAB Game Of The Year: Tulsa at East Carolina Biggest Disappointment: Florida Atlantic Coach On The Hottest Seat: Carl Pelini, Florida Atlantic (Note: all C-USA coaches are in good standing. Pelini is really the only coach you can classify in this category due to longevity at his current job.)
A Six Pack Of Bold C-USA Predictions
1. UAB, with team chemistry, offensive talent and Garrick McGee's confidence, will have the Blazers bowling for the second time in school history.
2. Southern Miss will contend for a bowl game after going winless in 2011. The late-season game at UAB will be crucial if the Golden Eagles want to go bowling.
3. Tulsa will have a tough first game on the road against Bowling Green. The Golden Hurricane are a four-point underdog for a reason. ESPNU should have an upset alert game Thursday night. Stay tuned and do not be surprised if Tulsa starts out 0-1 and then wins the conference.
4. Cairo Santos will win back-to-back Lou Groza Awards, but watch out for UAB's Ty Long, an emerging kicker nationally.
5. Marshall has a tougher schedule, but ECU wins the East even with a loss head-to-head with the Thundering Herd.
6. ECU will win the regular-season battle against Tulsa, but look for Tulsa to win the rematch game because that is what Tulsa and Bill Blankenship are equipped to do.
Bonus: Cato and Carden combine for more than 8,000 passing yards.