Conference USA has made some noise the last few years with multiple wins against top teams from BCS automatic qualifying conferences. The conference will build on the recent success this year.
1. Who will win the conference? Houston Cougars. Houston will hold off a steep challenge in the west division by SMU, but Case Keenum’s senior leadership will carry the Cougars to the conference championship game. Memories of the loss in 2009 will lead to a big win by Houston.
2. Who is the top returning player? Case Keenum, Houston. Keenum has passed for over 5,000 yards two years in a row. He tossed 44 touchdown passes in 2009, while adding four scores on the ground.
3. Which team will be the most improved? Tulsa. The Golden Hurricanes will rebound from the 5-7 season a year ago. With a year under his belt, G.J. Kinne will have the offense clicking again, and this Tulsa team will more resemble the 2007 and 2008 teams that won 10 and 11 games.
4. What will be the biggest surprise? Case Keenum will go to New York as a Heisman Trophy finalist. With monster numbers to go along with the conference championship, Keenum will earn enough respect from the voters that he will be invited to New York for the announcement.
5. Which coach is on the hottest seat? Bob Toledo, Tulane. A 4-8 season followed by 2-10 and 3-9 is enough to get any coach on the hot seat. Tulane needs to push for bowl eligibility for Toledo to keep his job.