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C-USA Announces 2008 Preseason Football Poll

UCF and Tulsa Picked To Win Their Divisions Again

CUSA Press Release
July 16, 2008

The 2007 Conference USA Football Championship game featured Tulsa and UCF battling for the league title and the two squads are favored once again for a title shot in 2008, according to the league's 12 head coaches. The defending champion Knights were picked to win the East Division crown, garnering 67 of a possible 72 points. The Golden Hurricane was unanimously picked to win the West, grabbing all 72 available points.

UCF was picked to finish third in the East Division in last year's poll, but behind record-setting running back Kevin Smith, the Knights finished the year 7-1 in the league and advanced to host the third annual C-USA Football Championship game. UCF rolled to the league championship with a 44-25 win over TU and went on to play in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, just the second bowl appearance in program history. The team returns nine starters in 2008 to a defensive unit that picked off a school record 24 passes in 2007.

Despite falling in the C-USA Championship game, Tulsa represented the league in the GMAC Bowl and routed Bowling Green, 63-7, to finish the season at 10-4. The 10 wins were the most for the program since 1991 and along the way TU became the first team in NCAA history to have a 5,000-yard passer, three 1,000-yard receivers and a 1,000-yard rusher. More importantly, nine starters return in 2008 to an offensive unit that led the nation in total offense a season ago.

Houston was voted to finish second in the West and is coming off its third consecutive appearance in a bowl game. The Cougars will be led in 2008 by first-year head coach Kevin Sumlin. Sumlin became the first African-American to head an NCAA FBS program in the state of Texas when he was picked for the job and is the 11th head coach in UH history. He spent the past five seasons at Oklahoma, where he served most recently as both the co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach. Senior DL Philip Hunt highlights the returning Cougars in 2008.

UTEP was tabbed to take third in the West in 2008 after finishing in fifth place in 2007. Quarterback Trevor Vittatoe returns for his sophomore campaign after having the second-most passing yards among NCAA FBS freshman last season. His favorite target at wideout will also be back in 2008, as Jeff Moturi returns for his senior campaign. Moturi tied the school record by making a touchdown reception in 10 consecutive games and also notched four 100-yard games in 2007.

East Carolina was picked to come in second in the East for the second consecutive season. The Pirates are coming off back-to-back bowl appearances for the first time since 1999-2000 and finished 8-5 last season after a thrilling win over No. 22 Boise State in the Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl. ECU closed the season by scoring 30 or more points in six of its last seven C-USA games and returns both signal callers on offense. Patrick Pinkney and Rob Kass both saw action under center and will vie for the starting spot again. Pinkney played in all 13 games and made five stars, while Kass made seven starts and played in 10 contests.

Southern Miss was chosen to take third in the East after finishing 2007 7-6 overall for the team's 14th straight winning season. The Golden Eagles made their 18th appearance in a bowl and have appeared in a bowl game for six consecutive years and 10 out of the last 11. Larry Fedora will lead the Golden Eagles in 2008 after being named the program's 18th head coach last December. Fedora spent that last three seasons as offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State where his teams were in the Top 10 in rushing yards per game and in the Top 20 in total offense.

2008 CUSA Coaches Poll:

  Team Points
1. UCF 67
2. East Carolina 60
3. Southern Miss 49
4. Memphis 36
5. Marshall 27
6. UAB 13
  Team Points
1. Tulsa 72
2. Houston 59
3. UTEP 42
4. Rice 32
5. SMU 29
6. Tulane 18


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