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Conference USA Football Preview: Tulsa’s Season Opener

Conference USA Football has their official media day today and will also be starting the season with a game featuring last year’s division champions.

Last year, Central Florida won the C-USA East Division, going 10-4 overall and 7-1 in their division. This led to a showdown with the Tulsa Golden Hurricane for the championship, a game which they lost in overtime 33-27.  With Central Florida moving to the ACC in the expansion, this leads the East division wide open as to who will lead this year.

Marshall leads in the odds to take the division 7/2 (according to Bovada).  However, East Carolina was picked by C-USA coaches to win the East Division, receiving 11 out 14 votes in the coaches poll.  Both Marshall and East Carolina will not start their season until Saturday.  Which leaves us with C-USA Champions, Tulsa, to get the division’s season started today.

Tulsa will kick off their season tonight against Mid-America Conference team Bowling Green.  Both these teams are expected to perform well within their division this year.  Tulsa is the favorite to win the C-USA Championship with 2/1 odds.  Bowling Green has the second best odds behind Southern Illinois to win the MAC Championship with 7/2 odds.

This game is expected to be a back and fourth contest between two elite football programs, who both have phenomenal offensive and defensive styles.  It is Tulsa, though, who has the most question marks around their team as they enter this game returning only three defensive starters from last year.  By comparison, Bowling Green is returning eight offensive starters.  Most of Tulsa’s new blood is on the D-Line so expect Bowling Green to attack with a strong running game to take advantage of this perceived weakness.

Tulsa will have to make up for their inexperienced defense through their offense, which does not lack talent by any means.  Tulsa has a devastating run-game with the 1-2-punch of  Trey Watts and Ja’Terian Douglas . Last year, Watts ran for 1,108 yards and scored three touchdowns. Douglas ran 936 yards and seven touchdowns.  Tulsa can also air out the ball with Cody Green going 10-3 while throwing for 2,592 yards and 17 touchdowns last year, though he struggled with accuracy.

Bovada has Bowling Green as the favorites to win this game with a point spread of -3.5.  The game start at 7 p.m. ET.  It will be the featured game on ESPNU.

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