Conference USA Report
Can Case Keenum win the Heisman? Will Houston be able to bust the BCS? Is SMU still galloping under June Jones?'s 2010 conference reports continue with Matt Dollinger's C-USA breakdown.
How They'll Finish
Southern Miss6-29-3
East Carolina4-45-7
Conference Championship: Houston def. Southern Miss
Offensive MVP
Case Keenum
2009 Season Stats: 5,671 passing yards, 44 TD, 15 INT, 4 rush TD
2010 Projected Stats: 5,703 passing yards, 41 TD, 13 INT, 5 rush TD
The record books are already cowering in fear. Keenum is back under center and ready to wear out the airspace over Robertson Stadium. Last season, Keenum and the Cougars led the nation in scoring, passing and total offense. This year, with a docile schedule and an abundance of talented speedsters around him, Keenum could be even better, and come away with some hardware to the boot. Just a reminder: The last C-USA player to win the Heisman was Houston's own Andre Ware in 1989.
Defensive MVP
Bruce Miller
2009 Season Stats: 56 tackles, 13 sacks, 1 forced fumble
2010 Projected Stats: 62 tackles, 12.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles
As the conference's reigning defensive player of the year, Miller is receiving his share of attention from media, coaches and preseason awards committees heading into the 2010 campaign. He can expect the same during UCF's season. As a junior, Miller finished fifth in the nation in sacks (13) and dominated games late in conference play. Standing at 6-foot-2, 258 pounds, Miller is a load for opposing linemen to handle -- and a lock for an NFL team in 2011.
Three Key Nonconference Games
SMU at Texas Tech
Sunday, September 5
3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
What better way to kick off the 2010 season than with a little offense? Texas Tech boasted the nation's second-best aerial attack in 2009, and the Mustangs weren't far behind at No. 15.
Houston at UCLA
Saturday, Sept. 18
10:30 p.m. ET
If the Cougars can weather an early road test at UCLA, they have a chance to be undefeated headed into their final two games of the year (at Southern Miss and Texas Tech).
East Carolina at North Carolina
Saturday, Oct. 2
The Tar Heels got the best of East Carolina last year, 31-17. The Pirates will look to avenge the loss in this season's battle between the state's two best teams.
Conference Game of the Season
UCF at Houston
Saturday, Nov. 5
8:00 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
In what could be a conference championship preview, the Cougars and Knights square off in Houston in early November. Last season, UCF rallied from a 14-point deficit to upset then-ranked Houston, 37-32.
Did You Know?
Parity could be prevalent in C-USA in 2010, but so could postseason participation. The league added its seventh bowl partner last fall in the Dallas Football Classic. The historic Cotton Bowl will host the event and pit a Conference USA team versus a Big Ten squad every two years.
While media days are anything but personal, Conference USA took a step in the right direction by bringing back its traditional in-person format and doing away with last year's video teleconferencing, a misguided attempt at cutting costs and going electronic.
BCS could stand for 'Beating C-USA Soundly.' Conference USA teams went 4-24 against BCS opponents last season, but performed a respectable 17-9 against non-BCS out of conference opponents.

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