There were no surprises when it came to the top of the C-USA this year.
Maybe it wasn’t anticipated that UTSA would go unbeaten in league play, but it was expected that the Roadrunners would finish at the top of the pack. They did so, going 11-2 and 8-0 in the conference. College football betting odds listed them as co-favorites with UAB at +300 to win the conference prior to the season.
The closest UTSA came to losing a conference game was a double overtime win over UAB in Week 9 on its way to defeating North Texas in the C-USA title game. The Roadrunners were dealt a red-hot and solid Troy team in the Cure Bowl where they lost 19-12. Still, it was a successful campaign for UTSA in its final season as a member of the league.
UAB was voted to finish second and behind the Roadrunners in the preseason media poll, but the Blazers finished just .500 and in fifth place. UAB gutted out some wins over Middle Tennessee and North Texas, both who finished ahead of them in the standings. It even gave Western Kentucky a run for its money, losing by three points. The losses to Rice and Florida Atlantic were the most damaging to the Blazers, but they managed to finish the season with a win over Miami (OH) in the Bahamas.
North Texas was beaten by UAB, but its only other conference loss came to UTSA. The Mean Green didn’t struggle much through the rest of their league games, winning by an average of 22.3 points — their closest game coming in a four-point win over Rice. The next smallest margin in their victories was 17 points. However, UNT, again, had no answers for UTSA in the league championship, losing by three touchdowns in that outing.
One of the Mean Green’s biggest wins in their conference slate was a 40-13 rout over WKU. It’s what ultimately sealed their spot in the C-USA championship, as the Hilltoppers also finished 6-2 in conference.
Outside of the loss to UNT, the Hilltoppers’ only other loss in the league was to UTSA. Following that game, they sat at 3-3 on the season. It could have been argued then that they were underperforming, but looking back, the loss to Troy makes sense, and the other defeat was in overtime at Indiana.
With Austin Reed coming back to lead WKU’s offense and the departure of UTSA, UAB, and UNT, the Hilltoppers should be the favorite going into next season. Unless MTSU has something to say about it.
Sure, the highlight of the Blue Raiders’ season was probably the upset win over Miami in Week 4. It was one of the biggest upsets of the year:
But they made strides and finished fourth in the C-USA after being selected to finish eighth. MTSU had no problems with the lower-echelon teams in the conference but struggled against the top teams. It finished the season on a four-game win streak, including a bowl victory over San Diego State.
It was a ho-hum season for the rest of the conference while Rice proved to be competitive and UTEP struggled against middle-of-the-pack squads.
With six teams leaving, the C-USA will look a lot different in 2023. The addition of Jacksonville State, Liberty, New Mexico State, and Sam Houston will shake things up and provide some intrigue in the new-look league.