The 2020 season for Conference USA is headlined by uncertainty in the East Division and a clear front-runner in the West. UAB is Athlon’s projected champion in the 2020 Conference USA predictions, with coach Bill Clark’s squad anchored by a strong defense and an offense poised to improve with a healthy fall out of quarterback Tyler Johnston III and running back Spencer Brown. The East is one of the more difficult divisions to predict in college football. WKU is Athlon’s pick to win it, but Marshall, FAU and Charlotte should all be in the mix.
Southern Miss and Louisiana Tech headline the next tier in the West Division, followed by Rice and North Texas as potential bowl teams. UTSA and UTEP round out the bottom of the West. Middle Tennessee and FIU should push for postseason trips out of the East, but Old Dominion is likely a year away from contention.
Athlon Sports has released its preseason magazine for 2020, and now it's time to preview and predict the conferences. Below are Athlon's picks and projections for Conference USA in 2020:
Read more: https://athlonsports.com/college-football/conference-usa-football-2020-predictions
Ninety-eight yards, 57 seconds.
In one, game-winning drive last October vs. Conference USA rival UT-San Antonio, North Texas quarterback Mason Fine gained a national reputation. The sequence included Fine rolling out and then delivering a bomb through three defenders into the hands of receiver Michael Lawrence. Fine completed the drive when he found wide receiver Rico Bussey up the middle a fraction-of-a-second before a Roadrunners defender made contact. Bussey took Fine's fifth completion of the possession to pay dirt for the win.
The drive made highlight shows and was aired on telecasts coming out of timeouts around the nation.
"I never felt we couldn’t do it," Fine said. "Looking back on it, the probability of actually pulling that off is really low. But everyone had confidence: the [offensive] line, the coaches, the receivers, and nobody blinked."
Fine's assessment of the actual likelihood North Texas could pull off that rally isn't wrong. ESPN.com's Win Probability chart gave the Mean Green a 1.2 percent chance to win when they took the field for that drive. That march down the field there may not be a better quarterback at defying odds than Fine.
Despite being recognized as 2014 USA Today Oklahoma Player of the Year at Locust Grove High School, Fine garnered interest mostly from Div. II programs, and just one scholarship offer from a Div. I university: Austin Peay -- which, with a 3-43 record in the previous four seasons, was arguably the worst program in the Football Championship Subdivision.
"I’d be lying if I said it didn’t frustrate me, because that was a dream of mine, to play Div. I football," Fine said. "I’ve been working toward that for the past 10 years, then not seeing the letters come in, not seeing the offers come in."
Read more: https://athlonsports.com/college-football/mason-fine-ty-gangi-andrew-ford-lead-group-5-qbs-watch-2018
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